Following Her Calling
As a dual major in Theology and Christian Leadership and Multimedia, Stephanie applies much of what she has learned in the classroom to her work at her church, The Church of God. “I work in ministry as the youth leader as well as a worship leader. I also do the media for church, so it feels as though everything I am doing is always intertwined. Many times, we get creative control of our multimedia projects, and I will often use the graphics I make, whether it be a poster, a video for my own church advertisements, and social media.”
Stephanie also did an independent study with art and multimedia instructor Eric Renn for a rebrand of her church's social media: her entire course was dedicated to reinventing and creating a new look for the church. “The multimedia professors do a really great job at letting you work on what you are passionate about but also challenging you to make you a better designer,” she says.
The same concept applies to her studies in theology. “When I learn something at school, I am so eager to share it with the young people. I am taught here and teach people in my community. When we were able to meet in person at church again, we launched a new gathering for young people. We emphasize the importance of emotional and mental wellness through teachings of the bible but also by sharing emotions, hardships, vulnerabilities with each other. I started this because of school. This is the environment I was learning in, and I was seeing a difference in my life, and I knew that it would be helpful to the youth of my church.”
Evolving Individually and Academically
Last year, Stephanie put the spotlight on two of her close friends she met in her church community during the 2020 Festival of Scholars. Her short film “Overcoming the Borders” highlights the challenges and aspirations of two young sisters from Guatemala seeking a better life in the United States.
Stephanie will graduate in the spring of 2022, and she attributes her time at Cal Lutheran with helping her to develop personally and professionally. She says her remote academic experiences prompted her to cultivate ties with other students.
"Zoom was actually where I made the friends I see and talk to in school today. I never really talked or participated in class during my first two years because I was so scared. I had always struggled with asking for help because I was frightened to be wrong, to be seen as not smart enough, especially in a place like college. I really blossomed on Zoom,” Stephanie attests. “My religion seminar, which was also on Zoom, truly changed my life. It sounds very dramatic because it is!”
Stephanie refers to that course as “eye-opening, transforming, challenging, and uncomfortable.” “It forced me to grow, and I was pushed out of a very comfortable space I was in.”
The seminar has informed the way she leads ministry in her church, and she credits her success to professor Dr. Colleen Windham-Hughes. “She is definitely one of my biggest inspirations. She is so caring and intelligent, an amazing educator, and a genuine person.”
Stephanie notes that her studies have led her to become more accepting of other viewpoints. “I absolutely love seeing different interpretations of religion because it really forces you to become open-minded. When I first started at Cal Lu, I had a very black and white understanding of Christianity, but while being here, it has simply amazed me how religion – not exclusive to Christianity – impacts our experience on earth,” she explains.
“Being able to see the different ways people believe in God has changed me in the best way possible for myself as well as for my community.”
Stephanie decided to attend Cal Lutheran for several reasons, including its smaller class sizes and the fact she wanted to be in a different environment with people she did not know.
“I came to Cal Lu knowing one other person. I also knew deep in my heart that I wanted to pursue a theology degree, something that the schools closer to home didn’t offer. I didn’t want to admit it then because I was frightened to pursue something like theology because it’s not practical.”
Despite its so-called impracticality, Stephanie sees her mission as serving God.
“I have always had a calling to work in ministry,” she says,” I have been working with the youth for almost four years, and I am equipping myself with knowledge and understanding to be able to better serve my community.”
Stephanie is working on her capstone in theology. Her project attempts to answer the question, “Why do young people leave the Church of God?” Having been a church member since birth, she has seen friends leave the church feeling hurt or upset. She expects her capstone will help her pinpoint trends to let her see why they chose to quit.
“It will be helpful for me as a leader and other leaders and pastors in the organization. My research,hopefully, will allow us to be better for our community and allow for us to grow and improve the way we lead the ministry.”
Regarding her fascination with multimedia, Stephanie says it runs in her blood.
“I have always been a very creative person. I think I owe a lot of that to my genes because my mother is creative as well! And my dad is always inventing and innovating things that I didn’t know could be better! I have always loved photography, drawing, and designing things.”
Having done most of the graphic designs and photography for her church in her teenage years, Stephanie was excited to learn she could study these topics at Cal Lutheran.
“When I found out I had the flexibility to pursue another degree, multimedia was the first thing that I wanted to do,” she says.
Motivated for Her Community and a Higher Being
Aside from wanting to eventually work in ministry full-time, Stephanie has other aspirations. After gaining some practical work experience, she plans to continue her education and earn a master’s degree in education. She would like to teach graphic design at a high school in her community, play music, and tour the world with her church’s worship band.
“It is so important for young Latinx teens to see people like them as teachers, as educated and as successful, so that they know they can do it too,” she asserts. “Growing up, there were little to no Latina teachers, but the ones I did have left a huge impact on me. They helped me to feel that higher education was tangible.”
Overall, Stephanie wants to be of service to her community and watch it thrive, and she sees her professional objectives as being a catalyst for her growth.
“The best thing about these career goals is that they seem so far and also dream-like. They keep me motivated and disciplined. I am a very small part of something that is one trillion times bigger than I am. Thankfully, I believe in a God who fulfills dreams.”
- A Creative Thinker
Wed May 4, 2022
Being inquisitive in art and life is paramount for music major Joel Shimada, a national finalist in the 2021-2022 Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Competition.
- The Value of Connection
Tue April 19, 2022
Exploring the World Through Different Lenses
- A Higher Purpose
Tue March 15, 2022
Cordray Crabbe plans to attend medical school after he graduates this spring. His two years as a double major at Cal Lutheran have facilitated his personal and professional growth, challenging many of his assumptions about the Bible and Christianity, strengthening his core faith, and setting him on a course of serving others.
- Making Herstory
Thu February 3, 2022
India LaRoda holds a distinct place at Cal Lutheran: She is the first to earn the university's minor in public health.
- Following Her Calling
Tue January 4, 2022
Stephanie Ramos has two passions: ministry and art. For the past four years, she has commuted to the Cal Lutheran campus from her hometown of Arleta in the San Fernando Valley to study these subjects.
- Artistic Expressions: Portrait of a Visual Arts Major
Mon November 1, 2021
One of the reasons Emma Herren '22 decided to attend California Lutheran University was because of its visual arts program. Through majoring in visual arts and minoring in multimedia, she has combined her passion for art and interactive media, interests she has had since childhood.
- Building a Brotherhood
Mon November 1, 2021
Through various peer mentoring experiences, Jesus Raya and other undergrads in the Project CHESS Men of Color Initiative bond with fellow students from similar backgrounds.