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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