It was the summer of 1995; “Braveheart” was selling out in theaters across the country, we learned that when it comes to gloves, “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit”, and amid an unprecedented Midwestern heat wave, Barb Dewald first walked onto Northwestern College’s campus, eager to see where her new role in the Campus Ministry Department would lead her.
Twenty-seven years later, she is leaving her role as associate dean of Christian formation looking back on her time here with fondness for the people on campus and gratitude for being able to call NW her home.
Prior to her time as a part of the Raider family, Dewald worked at the University of Sioux Falls in various admissions and student life roles while attending seminary part-time. Through connections with friends who worked at NW, she was encouraged to apply for a position on the campus ministry team when it was a bit smaller – home to just one full-time and two part-time positions. Little did she know, this summer would be the first of many in this Dutch community.
“Though I sensed God leading me here, I didn’t know if it would be a long-term fit-but here I am many years later!” Dewald said.
While many know Dewald for her coordination of campus-wide discipleship groups, she has served in many roles on CMT throughout her time at NW such coordinating SSPs, co-teaching classes and organizing community ministry opportunities for students. However, outside of her organization roles, Dewald is known to be a helping hand in any situation, happy to serve and lead when asked.
“Barb always made everyone feel welcome on CMT and really showed her commitment to putting both God and others before herself,” said Beau Risley, Colenbrander Hall D-Group Coordinator.
Dewald always wanted to help where she could. Dewald was never tired of seeing God work in the lives of students year in and year out, eager to see campus leaders grow to reach their full potential and grateful to work alongside her team in the living-learning community that NW is.
Over the course of twenty-seven years, Dewald has been able to see lots of changes in the world around her and at NW. However, she sees many needs and themes that persist in students’ lives regardless of the time or season.
“Obviously, there have been schedule, program, technological and physical changes to campus as cultural shifts have demanded new ways of doing things,” Dewald said. “However, students still desire to know and be known by their peers, the NWC community and by God. They still have fun, work hard, love and care for their fellow students well, are willing to try anything once and experience academic and relational stress. The mission of the college and campus ministry remain the same—there are just nuances in how we strive to accomplish it.”
This wisdom and experience have been a blessing to many of those around Dewald, especially those who look to serve alongside her at NW.
“When working in CMT, I found myself wandering over to her office for deep, meaningful feedback or input and she never disappointed,” said Martha Draayer, current director of intercultural development. “Barb was always willing to listen and be present whenever I needed someone to talk to. I will greatly miss Barb on campus and learning from her wisdom.”
In her retirement, Dewald plans on keeping busy by working part-time, being with family, spending time with friends, volunteering and traveling wherever the wind leads her. However, she would like to say, “Thank you – to God and to past and present students, staff and faculty for blessing, encouraging, challenging and walking alongside me. I encourage everyone to practice gratitude, pay attention to God and live what you value.”