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Alum Finds Adventure While Sharing Faith

byCarol Best

Home health nurse Taylor (Fries ’16) Hartke says even as a child she was an adventurer. Her dad described her as having “itchy feet.” She didn’t like staying in the same place for long. Her faith was also important, so finding a way to connect the two, faith and adventure, was her top priority when it came to searching for a college. She was looking for a skill she could use internationally, when MNU’s nursing program caught her eye. Both her mother and sister were nurses at local hospitals, but Taylor wasn’t one to follow in someone else’s footsteps.

MNU Offered a Foundation for her Faith
The path she chose included attending a Christian college. The university’s size, quality professors and opportunities for students were among the valued items on her checklist. MNU was not too big and not too small, making it easier for professors to manage relationships with its students. Check.  The professors had their own vast experiences to share as well as a dynamic curriculum. Check.  The university’s connections afforded venues in which to explore her career and the world, including summer mission trips and study abroad programs. Check and check.

MNU Prepared Her for Adventure
After enrolling at MNU, Taylor hit the ground running and had no trouble finding professors who could share in the experiences she was looking for. Rachel Storm, assistant professor of nursing, had experience as a traveling nurse and mission work in Africa.

As part of the honors program, Taylor’s mentor, Mark Hayse, professor of Christian education, challenged her at every turn, encouraging her to take advantage of every opportunity she could. During a summer break, she joined a group of MNU students on a mission trip to Ecuador. She loved the people there and later returned to study there.

While in Ecuador, she explored the Amazon jungle. Taylor says her most memorable experience was meeting the people of the Huaorani tribe, an isolated indigenous tribe that is most known for the killing of five male missionaries in 1956. The surviving widows of the martyrs continued to serve the Huaorani tribe, many of whom eventually converted to Christianity.

Her adventures were just beginning. Taylor explored alone, backpacking for three weeks in Peru. She stayed in hostels, inexpensive dorm-like shared rooms used by students and travelers that typically offer a modest place to sleep and inexpensive food.  Along the way, she met other travelers from all over the world, listening to different perspectives, while sharing her own faith.

Sharing Faith Takes Practice
Now a home health nurse in Colorado, Taylor says expressing one’s faith and sharing compassion takes more than book knowledge. She now feels comfortable praying with her patients if that’s something they want.

“I wouldn’t have had the courage to do that if it wasn’t for what I learned at MNU. I learned how to be caring and loving to patients.”
Home Health Nurse

Recently married, her husband, who works as a counselor, plans to join her as she continues her adventures. With a kind and hopeful heart, this alum has found adventure for her soul as she cares for the physical and figurative hearts of her patients.

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