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LeTourneau University students gear up for summer internships

By Reese Gordon rgordon@news-journal.com
May 4, 2014 at 11 p.m.


While many college students are now returning home for the summer, several theology majors at LeTourneau University will be furthering their education with internships.

Junior Ashley Rhodes, 21, said this past week that she will be leaving for Hong Kong, China, on June 27 to start an internship.

"I will be there for five weeks," she said. "The first week will be orientation and then I will be teaching junior high and high school students conversational English. This will be my first time out of the country so this will be a brand new experience for me."

Rhodes is one of several of the university's theology students who will be engaged in ministry this summer.

Pat Mays, theology department chair, said the summer internships promote "hands-on" education, which is ingrained in the university's culture.

"LeTourneau University talks a lot about that," Mays said. "And we (the theology department) are just doing our part."

Rhodes said she will teach English three hours a day Monday through Friday and will be staying at Hong Kong Baptist University.

"I definitely want to engage the students over there," she said. "This will help me experience different cultures and will give me a feel on what it will be like adjusting to new places."

While Rhodes is traveling across the world, other students will be staying closer to home.

Skylar Willingham, a senior from Athens, will be staying in Longview for her internship at First United Methodist Church where she'll be working with Youth Director Janice Crane.

"I will be teaching some summer classes and helping to lead the middle school students," she said. "I hope to get some good experience and to take what I've learned this year and incorporate it going forward. It will help me learn how to meet kids where they are at and be relational with them."

Willingham, 20, said she wants to work with youth in some capacity when she graduates.

She said LeTourneau University has helped her find her identity as a Christian.

"I used to think you couldn't be a mature Christian at my age," Willingham said. "And it is amazing to see people living out their faith here at LeTourneau."

As a cross-cultural ministry major, sophomore Brittney Powell said she will be pursuing her passion of mission work this summer.

From June 10 to Aug. 1, Powell will be stationed in San Fernando, Spain, with East-West Ministries International.

"I am one of four interns who will be receiving missionaries," she said. "I have been on a few missionary trips as a team member but never in a lead role. I feel like this will be a good experience as I desire to become a missionary."

Will Graham, majoring in Christian ministry, said he will be returning to his hometown of Denham Springs, Louisiana on Sunday to intern as a youth pastor at Watson Baptist Church.

"I am going to be building relationships and hopefully making a change in young peoples' lives," he said. "I have learned a lot about the importance of structure in Dr. Mays' classes, and the group discussions and case studies have been a real starting point."

Already certified through the American Council on Exercise, Graham said his goal is to work with athletes as a strength and conditioning coach.

"I am going to be helping out with the basketball team next season," he said. "I feel like ministry will be part of my life but I want to be a strength and conditioning coach."

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