Sometimes our education can open the doors to possibilities we had never previously considered. For Camille Pedersen (17), PLNU was the catalyst for a career she had never imagined herself pursuing.
After graduating from the School of Theology & Christian Ministry, Pedersen went on to pursue her graduate education at Duke Divinity School where she was challenged to grow and explore her faith in new ways. She eagerly returned to California after her time on the East Coast and now serves as a chaplain resident at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego.
Her current role has also created a learning environment where Pedersen gets to explore how to best provide for those who need her in critical moments. She said, “I get to practice what I preach and show up for people, providing the emotional, spiritual support and being there for patients in whatever ways they need us to.”
Looking back, she shared the ways her younger self never thought something like this was possible: “Point Loma showed me what was available; I went through this journey of discovering women in ministry because I had never seen a female pastor.”
When she came to PLNU, the new environment and opportunities available to her were an adjustment at first. “Freshman year, I struggled with whether women could be pastors, but I was never alone in those challenges with my faith. My professors invested in me and encouraged me to believe seminary was possible.”
She distinctly recalled the ways professors like Rebecca Laird, D.Min., Kara Lyons-Pardue, Ph.D., Michael Lodahl, Ph.D., and Brad E. Kelle, Ph.D. walked alongside her during this journey both through the classes she took with them and outside of academics. When she moved on to her graduate program she said, “They continued to be available and encouraging. That investment they made in me didn’t end when I graduated.”
Even now, Pedersen shared how she still uses so much of what she was taught as a student in Point Loma’s School of Theology and Christian Ministry. “Dr. Laird taught me about the ‘ministry of presence,’ being available for others and showing up. It’s something I’m living with people now.”
As she begins the ordination process and navigates what a career in ministry looks like, there is a sense of hope and optimism because of the foundation she has created for herself and the support she has from those who have helped her grow. Though challenging, her role as a chaplain resident is allowing her to expand her understanding of what providing support can look like as she gets to be a part of hard but rewarding work in a beautiful place.