Being rooted in both faith and learning is what Northwestern constantly strives for. It is laid out in their mission statement and was their prior tagline: “Building Minds, Building Faith.” The most prominent force that fosters this vision is the professors.
To encourage and congratulate professors who stood out for their work in students’ lives, NW created the Faculty Excellence in Faith and Learning Award in 2018.
The second recipient of this award was Angela Holt, director of instrumental studies and music education, who was recognized during the May 2019 commencement service.
Each recipient of this award is chosen by the students. They have the opportunity to submit a response as to which professor deserves the award and why. The students who choose to honor a professor by submitting a nomination must answer how the professor integrates faith and learning into and outside of their classroom. These nominations are then viewed by the vice president of academic affairs who chooses the recipient.
Holt is currently in her third year of teaching at NW but has already made quite an impact on her students.
“From day one, Dr. Holt made it clear that she was all about using her vocation in service to the King,” said senior Aften Pennings. “Dr. Holt models Jesus’ primary method of ministry: relationship.”
Every Tuesday at 2 p.m., Holt holds “Tea Time” where any student, music major or otherwise, can go to talk about faith and life while drinking tea together. She wants every student to have an opportunity to ask questions about their faith in a space that is safe and comforting.
This student opportunity encompasses Holt’s belief that we are commanded to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation,” according to Mark 16:15.
But these conversations happen outside of “Tea Time” context.
“Dr. Holt not only opens rehearsal with prayer but she takes time to dive in and teach us what each piece means and how we can worship God through those pieces,” said junior Joel Van Peursem.
Yet, Holt does not believe that integrating faith and learning should be a challenge that teachers must try to accomplish.
“As we grow and spend quality time alone with Him and in His scriptures, the evidence and outpouring of our faith becomes natural,” Holt said.
At the time the award winner was announced, Holt was practicing what she preaches. She was tucked away in the percussion section of the symphonic band. Holt did not even realize the recipient was herself until the description of the award winner became clearer.
“It was certainly a humbling experience and an amazing honor to be recognized in this way,” Holt said.
For the future, Holt hopes to continue impacting students in rehearsal, class or just through conversations on the music room couches. She feels that her students “sharpen” her and teach her just as much as she teaches them.
Holt is grateful for the NW community atmosphere that allows for the continued integration of faith and learning.
“We rejoice together in praises and wrestle with the tough stuff and ask Father God to use this all for His glory,” Holt said.
Thus, no matter what she is helping with or leading, Holt lives by this phrase: “Soli Deo Gloria, to God alone be the glory!” For Holt, faith integration is not a task but a lifestyle.