College of Arts and Sciences graduate feature: Rebecca Nolte ready to continue mission work
Baldwin City, Kan. — Growing up the daughter of a Methodist minister, Rebecca Nolte learned at an early age the importance of living a life to assist those in need.
As a sixth-grader, she participated in her first mission assignment, helping with clean-up efforts after a tornado ravaged a Wisconsin community. For the past decade, including four years as a Baker University student, she has continued to find worthwhile projects to support.
“Rebecca has grown up in a home in which she was nurtured in the Christian faith,” said Minister to the University Ira DeSpain. “With that foundation, she has claimed the faith as her own and has a passion for helping others.”
During her time at Baker, Nolte in 2010 partnered with DeSpain and other students for a mission trip to Alabama during spring break. The Baker group worked on Habitat for Humanity projects and helped restore natural habitats for sea turtles along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline.
Active in university worship services, Nolte was a Baker Ambassador and was a praise song leader and soloist. She also sang in the choir at the Edgerton United Methodist Church.
Nolte, who will graduate on May 20, was recently accepted into a three-year mission intern program through the United Methodist Church’s Global Ministries. She has been placed in Cameroon, Africa, and will be commissioned as a full missionary. During the program, she will integrate faith and justice by hearing the prophetic voice of communities and individuals around the world and at home.
“I have always aspired to be involved in some kind of mission work,” said Nolte, who was informed of the program by her grandmother Jean Matthews. “My father did a similar program right out of college. This is the perfect job for me.”
Rebecca grew up primarily in Winfield, Kan., before attending high school in Salina, Kan. In high school, she was a lay delegate to the 2008 Jurisdictional Conference and alternate lay delegate to the 2008 General Conference. She was the only youth delegate elected to represent the Kansas West Conference and previously served as a youth member of the Kansas West Annual Conference, attending the Church of the Cross United Methodist Church in Salina.
Her father, Jerre, is the pastor of First United Methodist Church of Hays and her mother, Jalynn, is a music teacher. Jerre will be one of the speakers at Baker’s traditional baccalaureate service before the commencement ceremony on May 20.
She remained active in her faith all four years at Baker.
“Sometimes students who were raised in the faith use college to step away from it for a while,” DeSpain said. “Rebecca chose to live out her faith here and develop it more deeply – especially the component of helping others.”
After her freshman year, she wasn’t sure if she would be able to continue her studies because of financial restraints. A generous scholarship designed to give preference to active clergy or children of full-time church staff enabled Rebecca to continue her studies.
Her fondest memories at Baker are participating in Speech Choir and living independently on campus.
“There is a good sense of family with Speech Choir,” said Nolte, who will graduate as a communication studies major with a social justice minor. “I come from a family of speakers. Speech Choir gave me a lot more confidence and is a great support group.”
Before embarking on her newest mission assignment, Rebecca plans to spend time with her family and intern at her church in Hays. Her experiences from missions have taught her many things and deepened her own spirituality.
“I enjoy being able to learn about a new culture and work with the poor rather than for them,” she said. “This program focuses on working with poor. It will help me learn more about myself and what I want to do with my life, which is exciting.”
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