After graduating with her undergraduate degree in psychology, Morgan Frost returned to her hometown of Seattle and began working at Seattle University. As she began planning her graduate studies, she was drawn to the Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership (MATL) degree for the diverse and enriching environment the School of Theology and Ministry offered. “The kind of people I met while checking out the school were so charismatic, centered, and engaged. I knew I wanted to be part of that,” says Morgan.
As an IT employee for the project management office and men’s rowing coach at Seattle University, Morgan has always been drawn to leading teams. “The MATL degree is teaching me how to improve my leadership for others and how to sustain myself while I lead. With project management, you always have new challenges to respond to and teams of people to lead through the challenge. The MATL degree helps me stay very in sync with people as humans first—so they can be most effective, but also so they can stay encouraged and inspired by the work and the team.” Morgan explains.
Morgan enjoys being able to transfer hands-on experiences working in small groups and teams within class to her work at Seattle University. She applies concepts gleaned from the program to inform the way she interacts with others. Morgan elaborates, “Every plan, action, speech, even seating arrangement I am responsible for…it’s like I can see layers and layers of meaning behind the scenes now. In the past, I was hyper-focused on what is getting done and how fast it is getting done. Now I put much more weight on how something is getting done, why it is getting done, and how people are experiencing it.”
Since studying at the School of Theology and Ministry, Morgan has experienced the most growth in her listening and negotiation abilities. She describes, “Listening applies both to listening to my own desires and also those of others—even if not verbalized. I mention my negotiation skills, too, because the more understanding I gain from improved listening, the more natural and successful I find all of my collaborations with others.”
She has also learned that the school prioritizes the personal value students are achieving. Morgan details, “In every class, you will be encouraged to share your connections to the readings, your life experiences, explore values and meaning with classmates, and to genuinely honor your unique being and perspective of the world while learning and growing together. If you want to bring your whole self to your degree and be transformed in an inspiring community, this is the place for you!”
Kristina Gibbs-Ruby comes from a diverse academic background, with a bachelors in cultural studies focusing on women’s history and creative writing. Her work experience ranges from a career as a goldsmith to being a pre-school teacher, which adds a unique perspective to her studies in multiple graduate programs. Looking for a challenge and yearning to develop personal growth, Kristina was attracted to the School of Theology and Ministry because of the social justice focus.
With the goal of working in the poverty law field, Kristina chose to purse the Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership-Juris Doctor degree. This dual degree, in partnership with the Seattle University School of Law, prepares students to become a positive force for social justice in a dynamic world. “I wanted tools to care for myself and my clients in a more authentic way than what is offered by a law degree alone. I wanted to do work that addresses the systematic issues facing our society, and the MATL degree gave me a solid foundation in looking at the underlying systems causing oppression,” Kristina explains.
For Kristina, the combination of degrees gave her great flexibility in terms of career options: “I can work as an attorney, a non-profit manager, a mediator, or several other things. My hope is that I will have all the tools I need to do meaningful work for the rest of my life.”
When reflecting upon the personal growth she has experienced while pursuing her studies, Kristina remarks, “I know myself better. My work in the MATL program gave me a chance to learn about myself at the deepest levels. I have a solid understanding of what motivates me as a leader, and what my stumbling blocks are. I also know how to evaluate those things about myself in evolving situations, so I am able to be my most present, solid self. I’ve learned how to lead from a place of power within, rather than power over.”
When Kristina is not in school or preparing for the Bar exam, she interns at the Center for Children & Youth Justice – a place helping to redesign child welfare and juvenile justice systems – where she is involved in the Lawyers Fostering Independence Program. In addition, as a part of her legal externship, she performs client counseling, where the deep listening skills she learned in our pastoral skills class have been an important part of Kristina’s interactions with clients.
Kristina offers this advice to students, “Be prepared to change more than you could ever expect. The School of Theology and Ministry is transformative. You will get to know yourself in ways you never expected, and you will leave stronger and more joyful than you imagined you could be.”