McDonald straws, apparently, have more than just one function. For professor Angela Holt, these straws were used not only to sip drinks, but to conduct large orchestras of teddy bears and dolls who beautifully played music from a tape player. Holt is now one of seven new full-time faculty members at Northwestern this fall.
Discovering her love for music early in life, Holt chose to make a career of it. She is currently directing the symphonic band, jazz band, chamber ensembles, and teaching music education classes at NW. She has been teaching for many years, and found herself on campus after most recently teaching at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. But music was not all that drew Holt to NW. Holt appreciates the Christ-centered focus that many on campus share.
“The opportunity to pray in school and know that we’re doing this for a greater purpose is really special,” Holt said. Faculty members also reached out to her.
“Faculty here were emailing me and saying I’m praying for you regardless of what happened with the job. I’m thankful to just be with the people here. The people and the Christian environment are a major pull.”
Returning to campus this fall is alum Heidi Douma, now as an instructor in education. Douma graduated from Northwestern and has since had many years of teaching experience. She taught early childhood special education (ECSE) in Northwest Area Education Agency in Iowa for eight years. She started her career as a pre-kindergarten teacher, and then went on to a preschool/ECSE teacher at Sibley-Ocheyedan Elementary school. And now she finds herself back in Orange City.
Also returning is alum Nicole Wede. Previously a registered nurse at the Sanford Medical Center, Wede is now an instructor for NW’s nursing program. Her experience comes from practice as a medical surgical, emergency room and obstetrics nurse.
Serving in the social work department is Jo Thyr. Thyr worked many years in the healthcare field as a medical social worker. She is currently serving as a one-year sabbatical substitute for professor Valarie Stokes. Thyr received her bachelor’s degree for social work from Northwestern and her masters from University of Iowa.
Joining the business department this fall is Han-Yen Kao. Previously a lecturer in the economics department at Rutgers University, Kao won the prize for outstanding graduate student teaching. He holds master degrees from Rutgers University, as well as National Chengchi University in Taiwan. Kao has presented his behavioral economics and empirical microeconomics research in several locations, including Rutgers University, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and several conferences around the U.S.
New to the psychology department this year is Melanie Nyhof. She has received multiple awards from the University of Oxford, University of Pittsburgh and the University of California. Recently, Nyhof completed a research fellowship at the Center for Christian Thought at Bola University. She now joins campus as the new assistant professor of psychology.
Teaching in the religion department as an assistant professor and First-Year-Seminar professor is Cambria Kaltwasser.
When asked about her role at NW, Kaltwasser expressed her love for Christ and the students’ ability to think.
“I understand my role to be coming alongside students and pointing them to some of the big questions that I think God is spurring us to ask in this stage of students’ life,” Kaltwasser said. “I want to help encourage their curiosity and creativity, and teaching Christian story gives me a good opportunity to encourage students to be curious about the God we worship.”
As Kaltwatter expressed, NW is and will always be motivated to grow students’ curiosity in life and faith in Christ.
In welcoming the new staff members to the current faculty, NW is striving to do just that.