Wayland senior spends semester "focusing" on future

Wayland Baptist University senior Michelle Hinze has known for a while she was meant to use her talents in a ministry position. But after spending her spring semester at a recognized ministry organization, she has no doubt that's what God intends.

Hinze, a native of Plainview and the daughter of Mike and Pam Hinze, is a mass communications major who's been involved in writing and journalism during her four years at Wayland. Wanting to hone her talents with some noted publications, she contacted Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family to inquire about internship possibilities. The Christian organization offered her a chance to apply for their institute, a semester-long program featuring coursework and ministry opportunities within the organization.

Hinze applied and learned she'd been chosen later in the fall of 2001. Forgoing what might have been her last semester at Wayland, she packed up and headed for Colorado for the spring. She has no regrets.

"We took classes on religious issues, marriage and family issues, parenting, world issues and being vocal in our beliefs," she said. "I looked forward to going everyday because it was so interesting to me."

When not in classes, Hinze got her internship experience by working with the Focus on the Family magazine. Her duties primarily involved editing and proofreading, which she said she enjoyed. She also got to sit in on a radio show with Susie Shellenberger, editor of Brio, a magazine for girls and someone Michelle said she'd looked up to through her teenage years.

When she suggested an article for the magazine's "Heritage Builders" section --a feature by guest writers that deals with family faith traditions -- the editors let her take a swing.

She hit a homer. Her article, entitled "Prayer: A Tool for Life," appears in the current edition of Focus on the Family magazine, a major point of pride for this aspiring writer. Though having an article published was exciting, Hinze feels the semester's biggest achievement was an inner peace.

"I really felt God affirming my call to use my writing ability for him," she said. "That's how I want to minister to people."

Hinze plans to graduate from Wayland in December and pursue a career in religious journalism. She intends to contact Focus on the Family again about full-time work, saying that would be "a dream come true for me."