By Madison Franks, Student Writer
OTTERBURNE, MB – Providence University College and Theological Seminary has been touching the lives of students for almost one hundred years. Not only has it provided a safe haven for students and a terrific place for growth, but its loving hands reach into the past as well. Providence has embraced its reputation for being an environment teeming with community life as well as fulfilling a mission to provide academic excellence for all learners.
When walking into the east entrance of the Hanna Centre on the Providence campus, one can read the words “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Teach” displayed for all to see. This phrase is not merely there for show, but stands the test of time. The university has seen many students graduate and go on to do just what the pseudo-prophecy states: teach. One person who has enacted this statement is Troy Dearborn, the pastor at St. Pierre Bible Fellowship Church in St. Pierre-Jolys – a town located just south of the Providence campus.
“I intended to go to Prov for only one year,” said Troy, which is a story shared by many people who have graduated from Providence with a three or four year degree. When asked what he thinks of first when considering Providence, Troy mentioned the words quoted above and expanded, “It wasn’t just entering to learn more academically, but about myself and the Lord.”
Many things at Providence contributed to Troy’s opinion that the school was a hugely formative place for him, and he found academics to be the primary thing that influenced him. While in seminary, the president at that time, Gus Konkel, taught a course on the Pentateuch. “It was really impactful because the president of the school was teaching a class and he was very relational.” Troy told a story of how Gus invited Troy into his office one day after the latter had submitted a paper that needed correcting. Rather than reprimanding him and worrying about the grade, Gus discipled Troy to become a better student and teacher, something that has left an impression on Troy to this day. “It was a really Christ-like experience. Gus Konkel was Jesus to me in that moment,” the pastor reflected. Providence has a habit of building up its faculty with professors who show genuine care for their students, and that care lasts long after being handed a diploma.
The influence of this small, Otterburne school goes further yet. Charisma Ginter, a previous Student Council President, was impacted greatly by her time at Providence too. Being in a position of student leadership on campus allowed her to work closer with the Providence staff than she would have had she not been a student leader and, as Charisma noted, she was able “to learn about leadership from them.” Providence prides itself on collecting a great number of wise and compassionate staff members as well.
In the same way that Troy was touched by his classes, so too was Charisma. Her microbiology class, taught by Rebecca Dielschneider, left a lasting impression. “It filled me with wonder for the world around me,” as Providence seems to be in the business of doing. And it went further than simply the content of the class. Charisma looked up to Dr. Dielschneider, “as a woman in science and as a great example of Christian love.”
The impact left on Charisma from the class and professor mentioned above and the others she enjoyed learning from has been long-lasting. In fact, “the teaching I received at Providence influences how I read my Bible, how I relate to those around me, and how I continue to learn,” Charisma said as she reflected on her current life.
When asked to give advice to students, Charisma offered “Make decisions prayerfully, and trust that the Lord will guide you and provide for you.”
“There are a lot of voices when you enter academics. In all the opinions, don’t lose the voice of the Good Shepherd,” provided Troy.
While some things can be taught to us and then quickly forgotten, the lessons of Providence seem to do the opposite. They remain long-lasting and formative for the lives that our alumni are currently living.