Changing Plans to Heed the Call
Kelly VandenBerg ’12 of Hudsonville, Michigan, never even “entertained the idea” of being a teacher. Her grandfather, father, and brother are all teachers, but VandenBerg wanted to do something different. But now she is an enthusiastic special education major.
VandenBerg began her education at Trinity as a nursing major, but she struggled with finding her niche. She made tentative plans to transfer elsewhere for her second semester, but God had other ideas for her life, and VandenBerg heeded the call with joy.
Late in her second semester, VandenBerg heard about the Summer Institute of Discovery program at Elim Christian Services in Palos Heights, Illinois. The program offered a six-week paid position, working full time with special education students.
“At this point, education was still not my first choice,” said VandenBerg. “I worked really hard with a student with behavioral issues, and all I wanted was to accomplish one significant thing with her for the summer. I love special needs kids and saw this summer as an opportunity to work with them and experience something new.”
Her epiphany came when her student began responding to VandenBerg’s example.
“I saw my student finally begin to pick up on the simple meaning of ‘I’m sorry’ and at that moment I thought, ‘Oh my word, I have to do something with this.’ Special education was it,” said VandenBerg. “I went almost right away to talk with Professor Pete Post, and I felt like God was telling me that I made the right decision.”
VandenBerg is now in her sophomore year, working as a resident assistant, playing in the string ensemble, loving her new niche in the special education program, and looking forward to one day teaching lower-functioning students.
“Special education is what I’m called to do, what I’m supposed to do, what I’m passionate about,” she said. “I’ve never really loved going to class before but now I feel motivated and excited every time I enter a classroom.”
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