Graduate Spotlight: A Conversation with Mary Asta Halvorsen
Chad Burchett | December 13, 2023
With a passion for writing and the literary arts, Mary Asta Halvorsen came to The College at Southeastern in 2019 to receive further training as a writer and a faithful disciple of Christ. Over the next four years, she not only matured as a writer and a disciple maker but also developed lasting friendships and an expanding vision for how the Great Commission orients her life. Graduating this past week with her Bachelor of Arts in English, Mary Asta is excited to use her training to reach the world with God’s truth.
In the following Q&A, Mary Asta shares more about her journey in The College and how her experiences have prepared her to leverage her gifts for the cause of Christ.
Why did you choose The College?
As I was searching for the right college, I knew I wanted somewhere that would grow my writing abilities and would also strengthen me in my walk with the Lord. When I stepped onto Southeastern’s campus and spent preview day with the students there, I felt like I had come home. That was the final deciding factor in choosing The College at Southeastern.
What aspects of living, working, and studying at The College were particularly formative or encouraging to you?
I have learned about the beauty and strength of community through my time with Judson House, and I am so thankful for all of the memories and friendships that I made within that community. I also worked for two and a half years in the registrar’s office on campus, and those coworkers became some of my closest friends. Working alongside that team was one of the most formative and memorable parts of my college experience, and I am beyond thankful for the time that I had with them.
How did your education at The College shape your view of the Great Commission?
As an English major who hasn’t felt called to the mission field but wants to write and reach people with God’s truth, I was worried that “The Great Commission” stance of the school wouldn’t apply to me. However, through conversations with friends and the teaching of my professors, my understanding of the Great Commission has broadened. I better understand how I can honor and represent Christ in everything that I do, even if it is not directly ministry related. I am able to use my talents to be a light in this dark world and embody Great Commission love to my closest friends and to those nearest to home who are struggling or are often overlooked.
Which classes, professors, or memories stand out from your time here?
During my time at Southeastern, I took seven classes with Dr. Matthew Mullins, and those have been the most formative aspects of my education. Two classes that stand out in particular are Literary Theory and Devotional Poetry. Dr. Mullins is deeply invested in helping his students develop a love for learning and truth as well as an understanding of their own voices. It was in his classes that I lost my fear of the research process and grew in my ability to confront deep and difficult questions, both about my writing and what I believed. He makes his students think, and he teaches them how to communicate those thoughts clearly and in correlation with the scholarly conversation they are entering.
In what ways have you seen theological education and ministry preparation go hand in hand while a student?
It is tempting, while in academics, to pour all of your energy into knowledge and forget that this knowledge is meant to be applied practically and with compassion in the mundane moments of life. I have witnessed this union of theology and ministry, knowledge and compassion, in the kindness of our faculty and the ways in which they care for their students. One specific example would be Dr. Strickland’s Theology II class in which he explained many complex concepts to us and did so with great humility and patience. He was always ready to help and to listen to our own thoughts, and he valued our input even though he clearly knew much more than us. I learned a lot in that class.
How do you hope to use your degree, and where do you hope to serve now that you have graduated?
From my first semester at The College, my desire has been to learn how to communicate God’s truth clearly through creative writing. This is still the desire that God has put on my heart. Stories and images are powerful vehicles for truth, and we serve a creative God who made us as creative beings. Originally, I thought I would be writing fiction and fantasy stories, and now I am leaning more towards poetry. I’m sure things will continue to change. In the meantime, while I further pursue writing, I hope to find a career, likely in higher education, where I can help people grow and understand themselves and the world around them better.
How can your Southeastern family be praying for you?
Please be praying that I would transition well into this next season of life and trust in God’s timing and direction. It is easy to create a picture of what I think life should or will look like, but I want to be ready to go through whatever doors he opens, wherever he leads me. Please also be praying that my love for God would grow, and that from this love would flow eager and ready obedience.