Gallaudet University Professor’s Life Enriched by NNU Degree

Dr. Charlene C. Sorensen NNU Class of 2012

Dr. Charlene C. Sorensen NNU Class of 2012

You might assume that only full-time ministers enroll in Northwest Nazarene University’s School of Theology & Christian Ministries fully online Master of Divinity and Master of Arts programs. While the majority do fall into that category, we still have many other adult students who come from all walks of life, including doctors, lawyers, educators, and other committed volunteers with a heart for deepening their walk with God. Their NNU graduate degree follows them out into the world, no matter their career path.

One example is Charlene C. Sorensen, Ph.D. Dr. Sorensen is a full-time professor of Chemistry in the Department of Science, Technology and Mathematics at Gallaudet University, the world’s only four-year university for the Deaf and Hard-of-hearing.

Dr. Sorensen earned her Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Ministry in December 2012. She chose the program because its fully online design enabled her to complete her studies without relocating, and empowered her to deepen her theological roots in the Wesleyan tradition.

“I have always felt a call in my life to minister,” says Dr. Sorensen, who also serves part-time as a pastor. “As an undergraduate (at St. Andrews Presbyterian College), I wanted to become a medical missionary so I graduated with majors in Chemistry and Religious Studies.”

But then “God closed that window”—or so she thought—when her son lost his hearing. Fortunately, Dr. Sorensen already knew a little American Sign Language because she had students in her classes who were deaf.

Recognizing this divine-human connection, she notes that “God took all of that and put me into a faculty position at Gallaudet University.”

“Only about two percent of people who are deaf know the name of Jesus,” she says. Through discussions with her students, Dr. Sorensen has seen some of them find faith in Christ.

“I had become a missionary in a way,” she says.

She imagines a future in which full-time ministry is her primary path. Dr. Sorensen is particularly drawn to working with people who are broken or struggling, and those who have been oppressed or isolated.

When she looks back at her online educational experience at NNU, she particularly enjoyed the group discussions. Her professors, she recalls, were excited about their material, current in the field, and supportive. She believes earning her MA in Pastoral Ministry has enriched her career and her life.

“I have learned how to dig deeper and organize my thoughts in new ways.”

Jay AkkermanWhether you’re a minister, interested in vocational ministry, or simply want to deepen your faith, you’ll find a place at NNU. Please email me if you would like to learn more. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

- Jay Akkerman

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