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September 2021

Sibling principals honored for impacting their community

Like many young children, Lidia Arceo Delarosa dreamed of being a teacher when she grew up and amused herself often by playing school. But while many change course as they get older, Lidia’s passion for education never changed.

So it’s no surprise that not only has she made a career in education – overcoming her family’s immigration to the United States at age 13 – but has thrived in it. It also comes as no surprise to those who know her that she was recently honored as Distinguished Alumni Award winner of the Clovis, NM, campus.

Rodolfo Arceo speaks about his job
Rodolfo speaks about his job

In another unique twist, her younger brother Rodolfo Arceo was honored at the same time as the campus’ second Distinguished Alumnus honoree for 2021. Both were recognized during a special event held in the city on August 3.

Currently, Lidia serves as principal at La Casita Elementary in Clovis, a position she has held since 2019. Lidia earned her Master of Education degree in education literacy in 2010 from Wayland’s Clovis Campus and her non-degree principal certification in 2017. Previously, Lidia served as education literacy instructional coach from 2013-19 for the Clovis schools after serving as dual language teacher for second grade from 2005-13 at La Casita.

Dreams coming true

Her career reflects a literal dream come true.

“Since I was very little in Mexico, I always played school and was always the teacher. So I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was little,” she said. “When our family moved to the United States, I thought that was not going to be possible because of the language barrier. But after graduating from high school, I wanted to continue going to school and pursue my dream of becoming a teacher.”

Lidia attended Portales High School and earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Eastern New Mexico. Her educational path reflected her own experiences greatly.

“I majored in elementary education with a minor in bilingual education because I wanted to work with kids who were going through the same journey that I went through,” she says. “I think as an English Language learner myself, I can see how they are learning, and in this position I can lead teachers and work with them to help the students develop and become bilingual, because that is the end goal of our program, to become bilingual and bi-literate.”

Following sister’s steps

Like Lidia, Rodolfo’s career has been immersed in education, though his experience was a little different since he was six at the time his family came to New Mexico. He picked up English fairly quickly and was able to leave the dual language program by fifth grade. But that also shaped his career goals.

Arceo family
Rodolfo, Lidia and spouses

“I started in elementary education when I went to college but decided I didn’t want to be with little kids, so I switched it to high school or post-elementary,” he said with a smile. “I wanted to teach something that I felt comfortable with, and I enjoyed leading others into the beautiful culture of the Spanish language.”

Rodolfo followed his sister to Eastern New Mexico and earned his degree in modern and classical languages. He then got a job teaching high school Spanish in 2011. Knowing he wanted to earn the master’s degree, he consulted big sister for advice.

“We’ve always supported each other and been there to help out. She had done the master’s degree before me, so I asked her what she’d recommend,” he says. “She suggested I go talk to Wayland and maybe they could be good for me. They work with you, and that’s what I saw. They had classes in the afternoons where I could keep my teaching career and then have afternoon and summer classes.”

Rodolfo earned his Master of Education degree in education administration in 2018 from the Clovis campus. He moved into the principalship at Clovis’ Lockwood Elementary in 2020, right in the midst of a pandemic.

Trials by fire

While the situation wasn’t ideal for either principal, they admit that valuable lessons came from that experience.

“We learned to be more flexible. And we acknowledged the fact that we are all learners. There were some veteran teachers who had to learn new technologies and way of doing things,” she said. “Education is a constant change. We can’t just sit back and say, ‘Oh, I’ve taught for 25 years, I know what I’m doing.’ Because you never know what will happen. We need to be updating on current trends.”

Arceos with mentor
Rodolfo, Lidia and Dr. Martinez

Rodolfo agrees. With some students lacking technology at their home to keep up with virtual learning, the schools had to be creative in solutions to keep those young learners on track.

“The flexibility was one of the key components that COVID taught us. But also to be understanding, having a better understanding of where everybody

is,” he said. “A lot of kids missed school… that was their safe place and where they got their meals, where they came to get away from their homes. So we have to be very understanding of our children and our teachers.”

Both Lidia and Rodolfo credit the Clovis staff for their help in navigating the graduate degrees. And they particularly lauded Dr. Sylvia Martinez, an adjunct education professor and Lidia’s principal at La Casita while a teacher there, for her mentorship. They both feel they are exactly where they are meant to be.

“I’ve enjoyed working at Lockwood. It’s a beautiful campus and the families are very friendly and take you in with a warm heart. I’ve gotten to make really good memories in the past year, in the midst of the pandemic,” says Rodolfo. “It’s been a great place, and I’ve been supported by my wife and family and lots of others. I’ve enjoyed being a principal.”

Lydia echoes those sentiments.

“I love working with kids. La Casita is my home. I was away for a few years and then came back and it feels like home to me,” she says. “I’m very blessed to work in something that I like. I love teaching and learning, and I love to work with students and make a positive impact in their lives.”

Lidia and husband Justin have one son, Justin Jr., age 2. She is an active member of St. Helen Catholic Church in Portales. Rodolfo and wife Veronica have two sons, Erick, 6, and Liam, almost 2.

 

History professor studies Christians, immigration for new book

Dr. Nick Pruitt’s love for history has been lifelong, but his interest in religion and politics in history were honed during his time as an undergraduate at Wayland. All these years later, those things have all come together with the publication of his first book, a look back at Christianity’s response to immigration.

Open Hearts, Closed Doors: Immigration Reform and the Waning of Mainline Protestantism was published by New York University Press and released on June 22. For Pruitt, the  study is the culmination of many years of research and work.

Nick Pruitt
Dr. Nick Pruitt

“The book started out as a paper I wrote in graduate school about 9 years ago. Then it became my dissertation. Then it was a book project for a few years after that. It’s been a long road but a very worthwhile project,” said Pruitt, who earned his BA with Honors in History in 2007. “When I started writing on it in 2011, I did not realize the context we’d be in for the last few years, how immigration is front and center.”

An academician at heart, Pruitt said he was hopeful the book would be useful in academic settings, perhaps as a textbook for a church history course or as supplementary material for history teachers. But he had intentions for the church as well.

“I was also hoping it would be beneficial to the church as well by providing some history about how Christians have responded to immigrants and refugees really over the last 100 years,” he said. “My hope is double-edged: that it fills a niche academically but also provides some light for Christians in terms of how they are thinking about how to respond to issues of immigration and refugee policy today.”

The beginning of the story

The specific topic came about while Pruitt was teaching as an adjunct for Wayland and applying to doctoral programs and contemplating dissertation topics. He had not seen much written on the response if white Protestant Christians to immigration. He took a leap of faith, hoping to find some great information to build a profile. After a little more digging, he was convinced he would have enough to move ahead.

“The people I am writing about are mainline Protestants, generally large Protestant denominations that have been around for a long time and, I argue, are the cultural stalwarts in American society. These are the ones that have a lot of power historically, like United Methodists, Presbyterian Church USA, Episcopal Church, Northern Baptists, and Congregationalists,” said Pruitt of his research subjects.

“In my book, I also include Southern Baptists. While they are not considered mainline Protestants, because they are so numerically important in U.S. history, especially in the 20th century, and because they had such robust responses to immigrant communities, I wanted to include them,” he added. “What’s interesting is that in the 1940s and 1950s, a lot of their responses were actually very similar to what mainline Protestants were doing.”

Uncovering the truth

Pruitt scoured the archives of these denominations and discovered articles that  reflected their political positions, denominational statements, and even records of denominational leaders testifying before Congress on issues of human rights, justice, and racial discrimination. He also looked at the home missions programs of these denominations, considering how their missionary work related to culture. There were obvious evangelization efforts, but Pruitt also unearthed pieces that spoke to the groups’ efforts to Americanize the immigrant populations.

Pruitt’s overall findings from this period shed some interesting light on the issue that he feels some may be surprised to learn.

“The groups I looked at generally tried to accommodate cultural diversity, but they walked a fine line. They still promoted Open Hearts, Closed DoorsAmerican ideals, and sometimes it is cringe-worthy, like programs to teach immigrant women how to be good American mothers.” he says. “Part of my argument is that a lot of these largely white protestant groups were fairly comfortable with growing cultural diversity in the United States. I think that is generally kind of surprising for most people.”

Pruitt said that while Protestant groups tended to be open-minded to cultural differences, some expected the new arrivals to the U.S. to conform to American standards to be accepted fully. This extended greatly to matters of faith.

“While they were comfortable with cultural diversity to an extent, they were not comfortable with religious diversity. What I ended up trying to unravel is the idea of pluralism in the United States,” he explained. “Religious pluralism was of concern because they hoped America would always be a Protestant Christian nation. That’s why they made evangelization so important. They wanted people to come to Christ, but also they wanted to ensure the nation would have this Christian identity.”

The journey to the classroom

In his role as an assistant professor of history at Eastern Nazarene College near Boston, Pruitt has taught a variety of courses and is the sole U.S. History professor at the school. He was hired as he finished his last year of the Ph.D. at Baylor University, which he completed with a specialization on 20th century U.S. History. He also previously earned a MA degree in church-state studies at Baylor. Much of his path he credits to his mentors at WBU.

“It all goes back to Wayland. When I was a freshman, I was planning on being a high school history teacher. Then I got to Wayland and worked with various professors – Owens, Sweeney, Pyeatt, Ray and Wells. After working with them for four years, I decided I really wanted to work on a college campus working with students. So they left their mark on me in that respect,” he recalled. “My interest in American history, particularly religion and politics in history, were focused there too. I was a history major and a Christian leadership minor, so I took church history with Dr. Sadler and theology with Dr. Meeks. While taking those classes, I really developed a fascination with how the American church responds to hot-button issues in culture and society.”

On the other side of the desk now, Pruitt appreciates both the passion for their fields and the mentorship provided by his Wayland faculty. He hopes to impart both to his current charges at ENC.

“I do love working with students. In one class I teach, I take students to a local archive in Boston and show them what it means to be a historian and work with original sources. It takes me back to when I was a student at Wayland and Dr. Kevin Sweeney took me to the archives at Texas Tech for the first time. It was like Christmas morning when I got to handle these old documents,” he noted. “So it’s fun to be on the other side now and introduce students to the field.”

Pruitt’s new book is available through the NYU Press website, with a 30% discount using the code PRUITT30. It can also be found online through Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and Walmart. Pruitt noted he is happy to speak to schools or churches on the topic as well.

 

Devotional: The root of bitterness

Several years ago, I began to deal with severe abuse from my past. I had stuffed the realities and feelings deep within me. However, I finally started to deal with and work through many things that had happened to me. I thought I had done a pretty good job forgiving the abusers as I should. However, a few years ago in my Ladies Bible Class, one of the women shared how in forgiveness, we need to let go of the root of bitterness. As she spoke, I knew I had not done that well. I asked the Lord to reveal any root of bitterness in my life.

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled (Heb 12:15 NASB).

I expected the Lord to show me a picture like this taproot:  Devo root    Instead, what I got was this mass:  Black full tree   I realized that rather than a forest of trees in a bitter system, I needed a different kind of growth.

THE BITTER SYSTEM

 Trees in the Bitter System come from the devil and produce resentment, vengeance, mercilessness, unforgiveness, curses, deceit, arrogance, self-centeredness, haughtiness, anger, and death. The writer of Hebrews as well and James and Paul have detailed the defilement when we allow evil or bitterness to continue (Heb 12:15; Jas 1:13-16; 3:14-16; Gal 5:19-21; Titus 1:15). Also, these trees stand in tainted water that cannot bring life. An illustration of this bitter water (Jas 3:11) is the springs of the Rift Valley that contains polluted minerals.

When I realized what I had allowed the bitter root to do in my life—based on my hurt—I begged the Lord to remove the mangled mess. But, immediately I recognized that yanking up the tress would shake them and allow the evil seeds to drop and develop. So, I asked Him to clean all the soil and replace it with Holy Ground. Then, I requested that He plant a better system with better trees.  

What if we were to change the “i” in Bitter to an “e”—from Bitter to Better?

THE BETTER SYSTEM

Purple trees

Trees in the Better System come from the Spirit and produce of righteousness, healing, light, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, humility, self-control, hope, and life (Gal 5 :22-23; Phil 1:11; Rev 22:2; Isa 27:5-6). Allowing the Spirit to uproot the old system (Jude 12), destroy the devil’s forest, leave no leftover seeds, and replace all with His orchard gives freedom for all, even the ones who brought us pain. The trees that the Lord plants are by springs as in Palestine bubbling with fresh water (Psm 1:3; Zech 14:8; Rev 22:1, 14). These trees bloom and bear good fruit (Ps. 1:3).  

To what are we clinging within the jungle of resentment when we could have an orchard of beauty? From Root to Fruit: What do the trees  of our lives look like?

Dr. Sharon Gresham is a 1970 graduate of Wayland and is a resident fellow at B.H. Carroll Theological Institute. She speaks to women's groups, leads retreats and writes regularly on biblical topics. She and husband Benny, also a 1970 graduate and a retired pastor, live in Burleson, Texas.

 

From the History Files

This month's history recap continues a series about some of the historic buildings on the main campus in Plainview, where Wayland was founded in 1908.

Owen Hall outside

One of the largest of the older dormitories on the Wayland campus, Owen Hall remains a favorite among female students thanks

Owen foyer
Owen foyer, circa 1961

to its large rooms and suite format with two rooms sharing an adjoining bathroom. Built in 1961, Owen Hall bears the name of one of Wayland's most beloved presidents, Dr. A. Hope Owen. A portrait of Dr. Owen and his wife still graces the foyer of the dormitory that sits near the north-central side of campus. 

Like many of Wayland's student housing facilities, Owen Hall has undergone some renovations over the years. Most recently, the lobby was redecorated by the women's giving group The Sally Society, with new paint and furniture added, as well as a chalkboard wall and a cork board wall near the entrances. Over its history, Owen Hall has traditionally been home to many female athletes like the Flying Queens basketball squad among others. 

 

 

Meet Your Alumni Board

For the next few months, we want to introduce you to the newest members of our Alumni Board. Please feel free to reach out to them with ideas or feedback if you have them.

Rev. Dave Young Jr. earned his bachelor's degree from Wayland in 2016 in religion. He currently lives in Durham, N.C., where he is an ordained Baptist minister and pastoral resident at Union Baptist Church and earned a master's degree from the divinity school at Duke University in 2018. 

He recalls his favorite experience being the commencement speaker when he graduated and getting to share some last words of wisdom.

Dave Young Jr.
Rev. Dave Young Jr.

"In my commencement address at Wayland, I charged my graduating class not to settle for making an impression on society but by making any impact," she said. "I meant an impact that testifies to the glory of God in a pluralistic society that is desperate for the healing balm of Christ. I will carry out my duties on the board with this constitution of faith."

Dave came to Wayland drawn to the academic expereince, believing "that the confluence of a robust liberal arts training and a commitment to the learning of sacred Scripture would equip and empower me to serve the Church and world." He enjoyed the freshman orientation experience called Koinonia because it helped him to build relationships and it highlighted people from diverse backgrounds reflecting the body of Christ. He was interested in the alumni board as a way to give back.

"As an African American, I hope to find a more defined role at Wayland so that I can give back to an institution that has changed my life," he says. "Being a part of the board gives me an avenue to to join brother and sisters of shared interest serve our mother, Wayland, to the glory of God. My goal is to help Wayland graduates stay connected through communication, service and assisting graduates in getting connected to the workforce or academy."

Dave also serves on his church's community engagement and outreach ministry, which is strategic in ministering to families who have been impacted financially by COVID-19. He credits his time at Wayland as molding him into a servant leader and commissioning him as "a flame of hope in service to God and humankind."

 

 

 

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