Faith and an Open Mind

Mia Quinones is studying social work as an undergraduate student at Nyack College in New York City. Nyack College is just a train-ride away from where she grew up in the Bronx. However, her path to Nyack College wasn’t a direct one. She attended college in upstate New York for two years and also spent some time doing missions work overseas before becoming a Nyack College student.

Several things attracted Mia to Nyack College. She was looking for a convenient commuter experience in New York City. However, she was also looking for a Christian educational environment that offered advanced degrees. “I wanted a place where I could get my education—pursue my bachelor’s degree and eventually my master’s, but in a Christian environment—with a Christian perspective.” In seeking a college that would meet her needs, Mia discovered Nyack College. 

Mia has only been attending Nyack College for a short time, but she has already come to appreciate how community-oriented it is. “With events, clubs, and even chapel, Nyack College is very intentional about making it a community.” Mia values the community Nyack College helps to develop among its students, “because, being that it’s a commuter campus, everyone has their own lives. Some people are working full time and come here at night. They’re moms. They’re dads. They just have different roles. But in all of that, Nyack College tries to find ways to connect the students and to make sure that there is a community.”

Mia was also happy to discover that in addition to valuing connection through community and having a strong biblical focus, Nyack College also has extremely high academic standards. “Even though it is Christian, it’s the same standard as any college you would go to.” In fact, academic excellence is one of Nyack College’s core values. Similarly, Mia’s professors encourage her to allow her faith to inform, but never limit the professionalism she brings to her work. Instead of wanting to be a Christian social worker, she aspires to be a social worker who is Christian. That distinction is important to her. “Being a social worker and not having a lower standard or a different standard from everyone else in terms of professionalism, but still having Christian morals and identifying with the Christian faith.”

Nyack College’s high academic standards were a draw for Mia, but they have also proven to be one of the challenges for her as a student. It’s quite common for students like Mia to be balancing their academic studies with a job. In addition to work obligations, with so many students commuting, everyone has a different home base. This can make scheduling things like study groups difficult. However, even this challenge is a learning opportunity and good preparation for the responsibilities of life after college. Students at Nyack College learn to be flexible, intentional, and to manage their time well.

Mia has also come to appreciate that although Nyack College is affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, it is inclusive of all denominations and encourages students to think for themselves. In her words, “I’m learning that, in a sense, theology can put God in a box. Something that I’ve already learned while being here [at Nyack College] is to set my pride aside—set the things that I “know” about God aside, and just learn from a fresh perspective and not be so narrow-minded.” At Nyack College, Mia is exposed to students and professors who have a different theology than she does. Advice she has received from fellow students has encouraged her to be more open-minded and have a greater appreciation for the various levels of diversity that exist within the Christian faith. In her words, “They encouraged me to have an open mind, to learn to take in what I can, use discernment with that information, and toss whatever I don’t think is useful.”

Mia is grateful for the opportunities that attending Nyack College makes possible. As a social work major, she is looking forward to the overseas trips she can participate in and earn college credit for. In addition, Nyack College is well-connected to various organizations, churches, and companies where students have a high success rate finding internships and jobs before and after graduation. Looking further into her future, Mia appreciates how much exposure Nyack College is giving her to the various professional paths she can follow as a social work major. She hasn’t yet found the specific field of social work she wants to pursue professionally, but she’s confident that her Nyack College experience will help her do just that.