Alums Using their Liberal Arts Degree
Owner of Engineering Firm
In my current job, I run a small engineering company based in Virginia with a satellite office in Montana. We do work throughout the US and overseas, primarily with the Department of Defense. I love the work and I love my employees. It might seem a bit odd for a liberal arts NSA grad to run an engineering company. It surprised me a bit, too. I have found, however, that the skills and knowledge gained at NSA are a perfect fit for managing technically-driven, service-based companies. In fact, my training at NSA has been far more fruitful and impactful than even my MBA or my executive business courses at MIT and Harvard Business School.
Harvard Divinity School
I came into NSA knowing only that I wanted to teach; after reading two books by Jon Levenson in Dr. Edward’s theology course during my junior year at NSA, I decided to pursue graduate work in Jewish Studies.I am currently in my second year at Harvard studying with Professor Levenson and am in the middle of the application cycle for doctoral work in Hebrew Bible. Although little of my coursework at NSA was directly related to my studies in Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism, my education at NSA has proved invaluable in my graduate work. The transition from a small Christian liberal arts college to a large research university was not an easy one, but the robust theological training and scriptural teaching that I received at NSA gave me a firm foundation from which to branch out into studying in a secular context and the resources I needed to function as a confident Christian in an environment hostile to the very concept of faith. More than anything, my years at NSA gave me a deep love and appreciation for the Bible as the true, authoritative, and beautiful Word of God—a book I could devote my life to studying. Apart from this broader foundation, the specifics of the development of philosophy, literature, and culture that I learned in Traditio, History, and other courses have proved invaluable in my research of the early reception history of the Hebrew Bible. I expected to be at a severe disadvantage entering my graduate work without an undergraduate major in Hebrew Bible, but have found that my studies at NSA prepared me well to think about and understand the world in which the Hebrew Bible was collated, canonized, and interpreted. In addition to the languages relevant to my studies (I learned Latin, Greek, and Hebrew at NSA), my familiarity with the great classical works that shaped the earliest interpreters of the Bible and their context has been tremendously helpful in furthering my research and providing new avenues for understanding the Bible.
Of the ideas and plans that have come to fruition in my life over the past decade, the majority of them may be traced back to my time at New Saint Andrews College: learning the good life from the faculty, attending the Lord’s Day at the local churches in Moscow, living among a mature Christian community, and working through the unparalleled curriculum offered by this quite underestimated institution. To state what NSA has meant to me, and continues to mean to me, would be akin to the child who realizes that the real magic of food, the real work of husbandry, is not in finding the right seed or sunlight but the right soil. NSA is indeed one of those rare soils that many of us are laboring to see spread throughout our current communities. I suspect in one-hundred years when our great grandchildren look back on this all-important revival of great education, perhaps as they are ever-more surrounded by it than we are, they will find that those faithful saints in Moscow are largely to be applauded for having undertaken the task when so few would.
In what ways has my NSA education not helped me be a teacher? Because I was able to learn so many different subjects from many skilled professors, I saw the value in learning. But I didn’t just learn knowledge about God’s world–I also was taught how to learn about God’s world. This is wisdom that I employ everyday in teaching my students, and something I aim to cultivate in them. I teach Latin, and I know not all my students are going to love learning Latin, or even be skilled at it. However, there is something foundational in learning how to learn a language that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. I was a lover of Latin before NSA, but it wasn’t until being there that I understood the greater importance of learning a language. It’s not just something to read and translate, but another way to interpret and see the glory in God’s creation. Also, by having studied other subjects like history, rhetoric, and apologetics, I learned how to understand and communicate with my students. Although I had no formal teacher training, the skills I gained through recitations, declamations, and oral finals help me to be meaningful with my words, and to present topics in such a way as to capture my students’ attention.
Owner of Construction Company
I help people build wealth and create enjoyment through construction and real estate. My wife Emily and I are entrepreneurs in the arenas of construction and real estate. We have a construction company, rental properties, and land that we are working to develop. We flip houses and operate a real-estate-specific marketing company. This year we’re launching a roofing company as well. These businesses may seem scattered to most readers, but they glove very well with my background, interests, and even NSA education. As owners and visionaries, Emily and I have to constantly be learning and teaching ourselves so we can lead our teams. Quite a bit of our work involves face-to-face conversations. We often need to listen very closely and ask the right questions to find out how best to serve our clients. A recent illustration came from our investment property business. A couple weeks ago we purchased a tri-plex with an extra building lot attached. By asking focused questions, listening closely, and being transparently honest, we were able to give the sellers their asking price and get a cash-flowing property in return. I even got a hug when they handed us the keys because the sellers were so happy with how we structured the sale. As an entrepreneur, I don’t regret a penny or minute I spent at NSA. The broad basis of study has been helpful in conversations countless times. The desire and tools to continue to teach myself are a gift every day. Most of all for me, though, NSA exploded my curiosity to learn and taught me the humble habit of asking questions with an ear to hear. I’m super grateful that I get to strengthen that habit every day as I serve clients in construction and real estate.
My name is Josiah Warner. I’m a 2015 alumnus of New Saint Andrews College. In 2017, after working two years in Moscow with my wife (also a 2015 grad), I was accepted to a Post-baccalaureate pre-medical program at Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies. In short, I was accepted to a 15-month long “boot camp” to complete all the science pre-requisites for medical school. I’m currently on track to finish the program this summer and have been building my resume to apply to medical schools for the 2019 or 2020 cycle. I will have a glide year (or two) and I plan to work full time, spend time with Elise, shadow physicians, and continue volunteering at hospitals. Whenever I mention attending a little college tucked up in Idaho, I get two questions: “Were you surrounded by potatoes?” and “Why would you choose that?” To the first: no; there weren’t any potatoes. To the second: to take that road less traveled by. I didn’t want an education that would check boxes and end with me in one; I wanted an education that would shape how I think and grow and act. I chose literature, theology, and Latin as my study-mates because I wanted to become the type of person they make you. I wanted a solid foundation of humanities to draw upon that would help me relate to and understand future patients. Additionally, the sheer rigor of NSA has helped me quite a bit practically—from completing a year of General Chemistry in 12 weeks and navigating the CARS section on the MCAT, to conveying my story to admission’s counselors and talking with others about the grace of Christ. The classmates and advisors who ask those questions often come away impressed with how well the non-traditional program has equipped me to learn and build. But mostly, they are disappointed about the potato thing.
One thing that was firmly ingrained in us during our tenure at NSA, was that culture comes out of our fingertips and the town of Moscow gave us a good view of what a Christian culture could look like. I left NSA convinced that no matter where I ended up living, I was called to be a good citizen and build a culture of faithfulness in my town. We were encouraged to build healthy rhythms of service into our student lives by taking time to love the poor in our community through acts such as singing at nursing homes or raking leaves. I’ve tried to maintain those rhythms through volunteering at our crisis pregnancy center, befriending Somalian refugees as well as assisting my husband in his duties as a deacon at our church. We were taught that as citizens, not only did our vote matter, but we were responsible for getting to know each candidate in order to make an informed decision. I have been known to bring nursing babies to political forums as well walk to the polls with three small children to cast my informed vote. Our rhetoric classes built our communication skills while simultaneously strengthening our faith and building our convictions. I relied on these skills as I fought with our city for the right to own backyard chickens. After all, if you can face down Nate Wilson, how scary could a mayor possibly be? Finally, the professors at NSA take time to disciple you and even invite you into their homes. Following their example, I disciple my own little future citizens as well as open up my home to others on a regular basis so that I can build up others in our church and community through hospitality, Bible studies and book clubs.
On the New Saint Andrews College website, there is a video. I think it’s titled “Swords & Shovels: Build. Fight.” Simply put, the College has given me a sword and a shovel. I don’t mean this in a cute or cliché manner, but say it it in all seriousness. I am the beneficiary of a steep career path – God’s faithfulness displayed through persistent grit, constant drive, and Michelle’s encouragement. But, it’s been hard; it required geographic moves, decisions that had to be made without reliable data, repercussions from those decisions that had to be absorbed, long hours, fear of failure, and an acceptance that the knot in the pit of my stomach doesn’t go away. The sword and shovel had to be used to fight and build. I graduated from the College in 2004. Thirteen years later, I achieved my current position as Chief Financial Officer for a middle market company with sixty-five million in revenue. My responsibilities include oversight and daily support of approximately 1,000 employees, negotiations for large leases, debt instruments or private equity investments, development of strategies for acquisitions to grow our footprint, and other really fun things. To get to this place, I have been responsible for decisions to invest in or finance healthcare real estate deals of approximately one billion dollars in aggregate. Two years ago, in my prior position, I negotiated three deals that saved the owner five million dollars each. My goal is to acquire further operational experience which will propel me to the next level. The College taught me how to think, not what to think. I have worked in healthcare: both the investment banking deal side and the corporate operations side. How to think is largely a lost art. Most people are taught a process, and they often know only that process. The ability to make an analogy from a set of facts you know, then apply it to a brand-new set of facts, exists only in small pockets throughout our culture. If you try to upgrade a process, or change it entirely while striving for efficiency, it can create havoc for those who only know the process they were taught. You must fight to improve the process, but also build new skills into those who will actually apply it. Those who can think, yet still show humility enough to honor their colleagues, will command a steep career path should they want it.