‘Lunch and Learn’ gives faculty food for thought
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
The first time she taught on that same stage, in Howerton Hall, she was pregnant with her daughter, Cassandra. Cassandra will turn 13 on Tuesday. Her mother has been at GCU for 18 years.
So when the associate professor in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology addressed a large group of faculty members Friday on “Knowing God and Self,” part of the University’s Integrating Faith, Learning and Work (IFLW) program, she came at it with considerable knowledge of GCU’s recent history. Judging from the lively question-and-answer session, her knowledge of integrating her faith into her teaching methods was considerably appreciated, too.
A year ago, Seminoff said she introduced a “Scripture of the Week” and other forms of prayer into her exercise science and nutrition classes. The response, she said, was “overwhelmingly positive.”
Of the 48 students who responded to an end-of-year survey, 45 said they liked her use of Bible verses in communications to them and her practice of leading them in prayer before exams. The three other responses from students who aren’t religious had no objections to it and even saw the value in it.
“When I started I was super nervous about it,” she said. “I had never done anything like that. But I found that it really helps me.”
And the students found that it really helps them, too. One sent her a note that thanked her and added, “You never know what a student is going through.”
Seminoff invited students to submit Bible verses they find inspirational. Here are some examples of the responses:
- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
- “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
- “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
But she also shared with them inspirational stories, such as that of Sister Madonna Buder, aka the “Iron Nun,” who keeps setting records for being the oldest female triathlete. She’s now 84 and has competed in more than 300 events.
“I’m not overbearing,” Seminoff said. “I just introduce it. I try to get students to think about how this relates to their lives. … It’s so exciting to see.”
Other faculty members shared similar stories of positive student reactions, from hearing “Amen” throughout the room after a prayer to the class erupting in applause to student-led readings of devotions.
Incorporating prayer into lecture time is important, said Dr. Jason Hiles, dean of the College of Theology, because of the perilous times in which we live, made even more difficult by the fact that so many people have turned away from the Christian message rather than having never known it.
“Our students live and breathe in a rapidly changing culture in which the Gospel is not dominant,” he said.
This is the second year of the IFLW program, but the Lunch and Learns are a new way of presenting the material. Seminoff is the first of six presenters from six colleges. Next up is Michael Kary of the College of Fine Arts and Production at 11:15 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 10.
“What they’re going to hear,” Hiles said, “is six opportunities to learn from different perspectives.”
Faculty members wanting a copy of Seminoff’s PowerPoint presentation may email her or Hiles.
Contact Rick Vacek at 602-639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.