I had an internship all lined up with a church in California when a pastor at Fellowship Church in Knoxville suggested I stay in town and complete an internship there.

I said no, and then that turned into a yes. I ended up not only interning there for a summer, but also doing a second-year residency during my senior year and then joining the staff after graduation. I began part time, working with the high school girls’ ministry, and I now serve as associate pastor of high school ministry.

I always knew I wanted to be a youth minister. My family situation was difficult when I was growing up, and having life group leaders and pastors who showed Jesus to me changed my life. God showed me he can redeem the hard things I’ve been through and allow me to make the same difference for others.

The foundational Bible classes at Johnson have been so helpful in equipping me for ministry. I understand the metanarrative of Scripture, the story God is telling all the way through. I’m also grateful for the preaching classes I had to take; I hated public speaking, but Dr. Overdorf’s encouragement was a game-changer. When you’re a woman going into ministry, it feels like you have to be excellent at everything, so having professors who said, “You can do this and you’re qualified” was a big deal.

Ministry is hard, but it’s also the greatest. I’m grateful for what I learned at Johnson and for the people who continue to encourage me.