Jonathan Emerson is a Senior at Weimar College. Born in Guam and raised in the US Jonathan’s background is a reflection of a third culture kid. His parents served as missionaries on the island of Guam but moved back to the US over a decade ago. They currently reside in Maryland. Some of Jonathan’s hobbies include playing the violin, running, ice skating, soccer, philosophy, and hiking.
Jonathan had known about Weimar for a long time before deciding to come. One of his parents had taught a class at the institute and his parents initially met while they were on a mission trip at Weimar. However, what fueled his decision to come to Weimar was something else, people, more specifically, friends.
Graduating from high school at just seventeen, Jonathan realized the tremendous influence that friends had had over his life. He says, “I wanted to put myself in an environment where I would have good friends, good influences, good spiritual mentors, so objectively looking at it, Weimar was the place the provided all those options.”
As a freshman, Jonathan was undecided in his major. Law was his initial intent. Possible career paths included law enforcement with the potential of becoming affiliated with the government. However, during his freshman year, a class he took from Amanda Anguish (LMFT) sparked his interest in psychology. Hearing stories and testimonies of people who were able to overcome their mental struggles resonated with him deeply. Individuals close to Jonathan had struggled with depression and cognitive distortions and after witnessing the distress, Jonathan was interested in how to help people overcome their struggles.
The following year, psychology was offered as an interdisciplinary degree and Jonathan, excited about the prospect of remaining at Weimar and exploring psychology, enrolled.
Weimar’s Christian Interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts program is a four-year degree, that allows students to have a major concentration in either psychology or education while pursuing minor concentrations of interest such as music and religion. Because the field of psychology is so broad, the interdisciplinary program would help students narrow down what areas they would like to specialize in at the graduate level. The program also includes possible research experience with the head of the psychology department, Dr. Garcia, who has worked as a researcher in labs. Additionally, all students will have the opportunity give a poster presentation at the Western Psychological Association (WPA). In their junior year, students also have the opportunity to rotate through the Nedley Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program. Some classes within this track include developmental psychology, general psychology and psychological statistics etc. However, a wide array of general classes are also offered to give students a well-rounded education.
For Jonathan, the biggest benefit about being at Weimar is the mentors and the close staff-student relationships formed. In describing the influence of one teacher, he says: The first year I came… I took English 101…. [the teacher] restored the art of reading the Bible for me because so many times we do word studies of the Bible, or concept studies, and he showed me how the stories in the Bible can be so much more practical than what we make them out to believe. So just those first essays were very pivotal in my understanding of how to study the Bible, being a critical thinker, [and] formulating [solid] arguments–that made a world of a difference for me.”
Through music ministry, leading worship groups on campus and community outreach opportunities Jonathan has been able to grow not only his own faith but also share what he is learning with others. He says: “I’ve had many opportunities to serve others…Weimar provides that atmosphere of promoting personal time with God, promoting time with others, and connecting your personal time with God to sharing that personal time with others. And so that will really grow your personal relationship with God.”
Through the work-study program offered at Weimar Jonathan is able to continue pursuing his strong interest in music. “One special thing about Weimar is that it’s very small, and so you have good student-staff interaction, you have good inter student connections, but you also have, a lot of trust that builds within students and staff… in every department you work in, you are pretty much put in a leadership position….There are many opportunities to build your trust, your work ethic, and your leadership skills.…These opportunities will be crucial and key in giving me an advantage… in a psychology doctorate program or wherever I choose to go.”
“The psychology courses have prepared me to go on to get more education in counseling…. I will say though that at Weimar, since they have the NEWSTART (lifestyle program), Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program, a thriving church and an outreach program, this has provided me with many opportunities to listen to people’s concerns, to pray with them, and share my experiences with them. So, in that sense, the program as a whole has been very beneficial in helping me apply [my degree] practically.”
After Weimar, Jonathan would like to go on to earn a psychology doctorate in clinical counseling with a special emphasis on crisis counseling. He hopes to later transition into Christian marriage and family counseling.
In closing, he says, “The world of Christian Psychology is very lacking in Christian psychologists. There is certainly a need of it everywhere. I would really like to do mission work after my psychology doctorate. I don’t know exactly where that will lead me yet, if that means overseas, or just here in the US, but I think that [I would] definitely do mission work for a while. And if God leads, I definitely could come back and set up a practice somewhere in the US, or maybe even come and teach at Weimar.”
For students like Jonathan, Weimar’s psychology interdisciplinary degree brings together varying personal interests that collectively can be used to help heal a hurting world.
The Christian Interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts is Pending WSCUC Approval