Stories of Transformation


Karen MedallionMA in Ministry and Leadership, Class of 2014

I'd always planned to complete my master's degree or MBA, but raising children, holding a demanding job, plus involvement in our church and community didn't leave much margin. Then receiving a cancer diagnosis in my early 50's and experiencing multiple surgeries, chemo and radiation offered a stark reminder of the fragility of this life. I sensed God moving me forward to explore a master's at Western Seminary.

I longed to build a deeper foundation in my theology as a person and business owner. The more I talked with professors and graduates about my goals, the more it was confirmed that the MA in Ministry and Leadership degree with a Coaching specialization at Western was a fit for me.

During my 3 1/2 years at Western, new insights occurred regularly. Even after a full day at work, I came home at 10 p.m. from my Monday evening theology classes tired, but inspired with so many pieces of the theology puzzle fitting together. Realizing the true breadth and beauty of the whole story of God, as well as the depth and connectivity of God's Word was inspiring. My course on prayer shifted forever how I think about and practice prayer and other devotional practices. Most profound was my deepened understanding of WHO Jesus is and WHAT He really accomplished in His life on earth and sacrificial death; and how this truth impacts my purpose, relationships and activities.

Also, I was so encouraged and revived through positive reinforcement that our company's work in the marketplace was, in itself, an act of worship. Though I thought God might be calling me to shift into a more traditional model of ministry, I was so supported and encouraged that our work helping leaders and organizations is truly ministry! This clarity helped prepare me for the dramatic growth of my business.

Howells Group LogoOur company is focused on helping leaders, teams and organizations flourish. As the owner and managing partner, continuing my own learning is essential. After completing my degree, the business began to experience significant growth. So at 60, when I thought I might be moving towards retirement in a few years, I'm instead experiencing a whole new level of growth for the company, our team and for myself!

Most importantly, the deeper foundation and spiritual confidence from Western helped me navigate the loss of our son in March 2015. Our 25-year-old son was in serious decline from Cystic Fibrosis and related issues. It was a heart-wrenching season. Seminary during such a time might have seemed like crazy timing, but it was perfect. I was immersed in God's word, grounded in truth, and found hope during this difficult time. Professors prayed for our family. Other adult students helped me wrestle through and process losing my son.

My seminary journey has been a gift that continues to give in so many ways, in all aspects of my life.  


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Western Seminary is an accredited graduate school founded in 1927. It offers trustworthy and accessible training for gospel-centered transformation at both the graduate credit and personal enrichment levels for those currently serving, or aspiring to serve, in key ministry leadership roles. The Western system consists of four campuses (Portland, OR; San Jose and Sacramento, CA; and Online) and a teaching site (Seattle, WA) that together serve approximately 950 credit students annually.