An Interview with Heidi Youngquist, 2nd Year Residential Learning Student
Can you describe your path to entering seminary?
The journey to seminary has been like a long, windy road – a repeating cycle of resistance and acceptance! From the time I was in High School, God has been working hard to direct my path towards ministry, but I haven’t always been a willing or understanding partner on the journey. There have been many moments and phases and stages where I wanted to be in charge and thought that it was my duty to take the lead and make all the decisions. Looking back, few of my choices took me in the direction I thought I was headed and none of them were very life-giving. I worked in ministry settings for most of my adult life, but fought against the directional pull towards seminary for many years. As it ends up though, ministry is exactly what I am meant to be doing! In many ways it is my true North and, in so many ways, entering seminary has felt like coming home. Everything about being here feels right!
I chose Wartburg because it is the embodiment of what it means to be a Christ-centered community. I love that there is daily chapel, that class time incorporates small group discussions, and that there is on-campus student housing. I am beyond grateful to be a part of the Wartburg community! Likewise, as a single parent, community is crucial. Because I am not just a student, but also a parent, it was very important for me that my daughter was on board with the decision to uproot our lives and move from Nebraska to Iowa. Violet and I came to campus for a visit prior to making the decision to come to seminary and we both felt at home. While I was a little worried about how to juggle studies, student life and my role and responsibilities as a single parent, I have found that not only are the staff and faculty supportive and understanding, but my fellow students have also offered their support and encouragement.
What has been a highlight of your seminary experience?
So many things! As an older student – having the opportunity to be immersed in a learning-community again has been such a thrill! I have loved the process of studying, questioning, and struggling to articulate matters of faith, learning a new language (Greek), and examining and reading Scripture with a new focus. I have loved the gift of learning, being a part of the worship-centered, theologically-grounded, and faith-focused community here at Wartburg, entering both formal and informal conversations about ministry and the future of the church, and thinking about and dreaming of my future as a pastor and how what I am learning will impact my work as an ordained minister of Word and Sacrament. Another highlight has been the life-long friendships I have made, as well as having the opportunity to learn from incredible professors who are not only some of the best in their area of study, but who genuinely care about us as students and as future leaders of the church.
How do you experience the Wartburg community?
I cannot say enough about this community. I am so grateful that I chose to move to Dubuque and go through seminary as a residential student. Being face to face with the instructors is so very important to the way that I learn and process. I also love that beyond the classroom professors will join students for worship, sit at the table for lunch, and stop and say hello in the hallways. Likewise, it has been a gift to experience the life of the community through various student-led activities like weekly potlucks, impromptu trips to go hiking or bowling, bonfires, movie nights, and opportunities for food and fellowship. There is truly a feeling of support, welcome, and collegiality. As a single parent, it is such a blessing to know that my daughter is surrounded by a community of care and that she is loved and supported by so many. Members of the Wartburg community have even attended her school performances and regularly inquire about how she is doing. It has been a blessing that this is not only my community as a student, but also a community for my family.
Who have been important people in your faith journey?
Having served in the church for most of my adult life, I have accumulated a wide circle of support. From pastors I have served with, students I have taught, parents I have supported, and colleagues I have journeyed with, I feel blessed to have a variety of folks who have given me their love, encouragement, and support and have helped equip me for this journey. I would not be here today without the various influencers who recognized my gifts for ministry, provided me with opportunities to serve the church, and encouraged me to follow this call to seminary. Specifically, I am thankful for my parents who have been a constant source of strength, support and understanding. I also appreciate the support from my congregation, not only for naming my gifts and helping me discern my call, but also for their pledge of support through their prayers and financial contributions. Most importantly, I am grateful for my daughter who continues to encourage and support me and sees this journey as something that we are doing together!