Concordia’s Dean of the School of Health Professions (right) walks Concordia's hallways with her son, Joe, who is a recent graduate of Bethesda College.Concordia’s Dean of the School of Health Professions (right) walks Concordia's hallways with her son, Joe, who is a recent graduate of Bethesda College.

It was a proud day for the head of Concordia University Wisconsin’s School of Health Professions when she watched her son Joe cross the commencement stage last May.

The 25-year-old son of Dean Linda Samuel earned his Certificate of Applied Learning and became a member of the second graduating class of Bethesda College on May 13, 2017. The unique two-year certificate program that Concordia and Bethesda Lutheran Communities began in 2014 is specially designed for students with developmental disabilities—students like Joe, who was diagnosed at a young age as learning disabled, and who struggles with speech and language comprehension.

“Everything for Joe is always a little harder than anybody else, but he just keeps going,” Samuel said. “He’s succeeding.”

Concordia’s focus on preparing students for service to Christ in the Church and world provided the ideal setting for Joe to learn and grow, says Samuel. In fact, the university’s mission is a large part of why all four of Samuel’s children chose to attend CUW and why Joe has maintained his job in Concordia’s maintenance department after graduating.

For the woman who leads Concordia’s health professions (HP) programs, the mission affords a unique opportunity that few other universities can offer: a chance to talk about Christ and God’s Word, and how the two bring new purpose to students’ career pursuits.

“With our students, that extra piece is vocation,” Samuel says. “Our students aren’t graduating just to get a job; they’re using their gifts to serve God and other people.”

That’s why the School of Health Professions has a faith and learning committee whose goal is to lead faith discussions with faculty and help them explore ways to integrate faith in the classroom in a meaningful way. Samuel also has directed that every professor in the academic school include on their syllabus a desired outcome of their faith instruction. Often these outcomes come in the form of service initiatives, says Samuel.

Not that it takes a class requirement to get HP students enthused about serving. One look at the year’s schedule of activities, and it’s plain to see that health professions students are servants at heart.

And in Samuel’s opinion, there’s no higher praise you could say of a Concordia HP grad.

Teens enjoy games during an Asperger Teen Night held last year.

An OT student works with a camper during the June 13 Health Heroes Camp.

Nursing professor Brenda Jobe takes advantage of a wellness exam.

At Your Service

Samuel says she wants students to graduate from Concordia “not only proficient in their field but with a servant mindset, eager to go out of their way to treat people in a Christian manner.” Here are a few of the ways students in the health professions programs do just that each year.

Asperger Teen Night—OT and PT students team up with the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin twice a year to host Asperger Teen Nights. The nights are filled with food, fun, and fellowship that benefits all involved.

Healthy Heroes Camp—For the third straight year this past summer, OT students provided a free, weeklong camp for kids. The camp focuses on teaching youth to live healthy lives, with an emphasis on physical activity, nutrition, and emotional health.

Wellness Exams—PT students regularly perform free wellness exams, which include overall health assessments followed by custom plans to address any areas of concern.

Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in the fall 2017 issue of Concordian, the official magazine of Concordia University Wisconsin. View a PDF version of the magazine here. The fall 2017 Concordian magazines hit mailboxes the first week of October. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, call 734-995-7317.

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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