News - Equipped for Seminary (and Life) at Greenville University

Equipped for Seminary (and Life) at Greenville University

by Rachel Heston-Davis Equipped for Seminary (and Life) at Greenville University

Maria Koppelberger ’14 clearly recalls one of the first life lessons she learned at Greenville University as a brand new freshman.

Her professor, Brad Shaw, drew a simple illustration on the chalkboard: a pair of glasses.

“He explained that everyone wears a pair of glasses, an interpretive lens, that affects how they see the world,” Maria remembers. “We understand ourselves and others better when we remember that we each have a particular way of seeing the world.”

This powerful analogy, which would come to shape Maria’s approach to the world, became the first of many moments she’d later pinpoint as transformative experiences that prepared her for the future.

So far, the future has included degrees in Spanish and international and cross-cultural studies from Greenville and a full-ride scholarship to Asbury Theological Seminary, where she’ll graduate with her MDiv in May. She plans to work in environmental ministry and possibly obtain a PhD in ethics.

The future is wide open for Maria. But she credits her past—specifically lessons learned at Greenville University—for laying a successful foundation.

Training for the Future

Maria was well pleased with how Greenville University prepared her for the rigors of seminary.

“I gained a deeper love for the Bible and for Christian community. My love for the Bible deepened in courses that taught me how to better study the Bible and apply it to my context,” she says of Greenville.

In fact, every college course, whether Bible class or not, “prepared me very well for the academic standards of graduate school.”

Maria remembers her undergraduate expererience as one of open doors and open hearts from Greenville’s faculty and staff. She shared meals in professors’ homes, even meeting there for class on occasion. The gesture deeply impacted her sense of Christian community.

“The professors modeled Christian hospitality for us,” she says. 

Opportunities for Grace Times Eight

Healthy interpersonal skills undergird success in seminary and ministry. Greenville University helped Maria develop that strength, too. It blossomed in tough moments as much as smooth ones.

“It was sometimes difficult to live life so closely with so many students, students from all different backgrounds,” she says of her time on Greenville’s campus. Overcoming differences and finding harmony proved especially valuable when Maria shared a wing in Mannoia Hall with seven roommates.

“I can’t help but laugh when I remember the eight of us trying to get along, and not always succeeding,” she remembers. “We learned a lot, though, through giving and receiving grace from one another.”

Advice for Graduate Students

In reviewing her experiences, Maria offers advice to current students considering graduate school or seminary: 

“My best advice is to lean in. Lean in to the community and reach out to other students, whether you are going to live on or near campus or do online work. Know that transitioning to a new community may be difficult, but you need to give yourself grace.”

“Also, reach out to your professors,” she adds. “In my experience, professors are more than willing to answer questions and even take one-on-one time to help you understand the material.”


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When you give to The Greenville University Fund, you fund scholarships for students like Maria who prepare to serve in Christ’s name. Click here to give, and thank you.

This story was published on March 19, 2018

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