Faculty Focus: Dr. Valerie De La Torre
DR. VALERIE DE LA TORRE
College of Theology
Title: Instructor of Theology, Grand Canyon Theological Seminary, PSEC Course Lead
Years at GCU: 6 1/2
Academic degrees: B.S in Music Education from Grand Canyon; MDiv with Biblical Studies Concentration from Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, Calif.; DMin with a Formational Counseling concentration from Ashland Seminary in Ashland, Ohio.
Faculty scholarship (publications, scholarly presentations, fellowships, etc.): Contributions to GCTS Theology Thursdays and Dear Theophilus Blog sites.
Notable research in your field: My doctoral dissertation focused on the budding roots of neuroscience and its discoveries regarding emotional healing for traumatic experiences such as PTSD. My specific research delved into the area of the church and its musical worship, exploring how the music of worship can be a conduit for emotional healing through the cognitive reading of the text, the unique musical effects on the human brain, and the experiential presence of God in one’s mind. Through the actions of singing and listening to chosen styles and presentations of the music of the church, God’s healing and transforming work can affect emotional healing, contributing to overall spiritual health and well-being.
Notable employment in your field: I have had the privilege to serve in various churches in Southern California as an ordained second career Presbyterian pastor, along with nearly five years as a hospice chaplain in Ventura County, Calif. Currently, I feel as if I have come full circle working here at GCU as an instructor. It has allowed me to return to full-time teaching, especially Christian education and training, which have always been a great joy.
What are you most passionate about in your field? Any teacher who loves their profession can share in the excitement and thrill when students “get” the concept that leads them to succeed. To see them excel both in their grades and their enthusiasm for learning is beyond rewarding. In my pastor role, seeing congregants also “get” those deep biblical truths, seeing them make connections to the larger story and to their personal lives is equally delightful. It brings me great happiness to share all that I have learned and then see that transplanted into the core of people’s souls. To see these marvelous glimpses of maturity is simply glorious.
What aspect of your teaching style is the most distinctive and/or memorable? Teaching online has its unique challenges in that students do not have the benefit of hearing your tone of voice through all your responses, including corrections. I do often hear that I can be helpful in both in the explanation of information and in preparation for assignments, but also in providing sound counsel and insights when it comes to personal issues or tougher questions. I believe I am fully approachable, and I try to go the distance to when it comes to helping students “make the grade.”
What do you like to do for fun in your spare time? I have taken up gardening/landscaping projects as of late in my efforts to renovate the family home. While it is hard work, I am finding it enjoyable. I enjoy traveling and visiting friends and family. With a full weekly schedule and a pastoring job on the weekends, quiet time and reading are luxuries that are fun for me! Outdoor summer concerts and good winter movies are always fun to experience.
What is something interesting about you that most people don’t know? I graduated from Grand Canyon College way back when there was lots and lots of green grass, and I had a key to Ethington Theatre. I would go play the Bösendorfer grand piano in the evening for hours on end. I think I still have those keys …