MNU to Maximum Security: My Unexpected Journey

Sep. 18, 2013 - by arcurtis

My Unexpected Journey

By Kerri Zynen ('12)
September 18, 2013
My Unexpected Journey

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Since my graduation from MNU, the Lord has led me on an unlikely journey: one that I never would have planned out for myself.

I spent four years at MNU and graduated with bachelor’s degrees in both history and mass communications. It was an odd combination, but I planned to eventually either land a career within the realm of journalism or continue my education at law school.

As graduation grew closer, I became increasingly uncertain of my plans; I was unsure that law school was where the Lord could use me the most. When I walked across the stage in College Church to receive my diploma in May of 2012, I was truly clueless as to the next step in my life. The following summer was full of incredible opportunities including a visit to Alaska and an MNU mission trip to Kenya. As the summer ended, I considered returning to Olathe, but I inexplicably felt the Lord keeping me home in Colorado.

My job search was a short week and half, rare among my graduating peers. I was looking for part-time coaching jobs in Denver, hopefully to accompany some sort of writing/editing position. I came across a posting for an opportunity to coach “at risk” youth, which sparked my interest. Little did I know what was to come when I decided to apply!

I began working at the Betty K. Marler Youth Services Center in September 2012. BMYSC is a maximum security correctional facility, treatment center, and charter school for 41 girls in Colo. It is the only facility of its kind in the state; it is gender specific, based on restorative community justice (giving back for what you have taken away), and only takes committed youth, meaning that all of the girls have a court ordered sentence to fulfill.

My Unexpected JourneyI am the athletics coach, health and wellness instructor, and substitute teacher at BMYSC. I run the educational fitness program by designing a monthly workout calendar and implementing lessons related to health. I also coach all of the sports teams.

I am so grateful for the education and life experiences I received at MidAmerica. Although I am not currently fully utilizing my specific studies, I continually feel the impact of my time in Olathe and it is clear that God has woven everything together. I was provided with a strong foundation of faith, education and community that have become part of the person I am today.

Although I cannot explain how I ended up working in juvenile corrections, I do know one thing: it is exactly where I am supposed to be at this point in my life.

My purpose right now is to be an extension of God’s love in any way that I can, mostly in my daily interactions with the girls; I treat them with kindness and genuine concern, which results in a mutual respect. My prayer is that in addition to helping to enhance their physical health, I can provide some encouragement and hope during the short time that I have the privilege of being in their lives.

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Latest Photos
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LC-Ribbon-44 The team that helped bring these changes to Mabee Learning Commons through the US Dept. of Education grant, poses together. Left to right: Dr. Linda Alexander, Rick Hanson, Julie, Lon Dagley, Whitney Gray, Marcelle Cooper, Christine Snyder, Bruce Flanders, Jon Spence, Janelle Jefferson, Lauren Hays, Brenda Ebert, Dr. David Spittal, Mitch Hazen (Nabholz Construction).
LC-Ribbon-26 US Representative Kevin Yoder joined President Dr. David Spittal, Library Director Bruce Flanders, Director of Facilities Services John Spence, Associate VP for Academic and Professional Success Rick Hanson, Mayor Mike Copeland, Mitch Hazen (Nabholz Construction) and Olathe Chamber CEO Tim McKee for the Ribbon Cutting.
LC-Ribbon-8 A large group of students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community gathered for the Learning Commons ribbon cutting October 21, 2016.
LC-48 Several rooms are available for meeting, testing or other working groups.
LC-41 Alumni who have toured the Learning Commons in person find the new space surprising. All the books are upstairs and the first floor is an excellent area for a variety of meetings, conversations and even hanging out.