GST Student Spotlight: Débora Viana
Débora is from Pernambuco (state), Brazil. She completed an undergraduate degree in IT from UNICAMP and she is now a master’s student at ACU, pursuing both a MA in Theology and a MS in Social Work. Her perspectives have been a huge blessing to the ACU & GST community. Get to know more about Débora below!
- Why did you decide to pursue a MA in both social work and theology, in general and then here at ACU?
I worked in a church for 4 years before I came to the US. I was responsible for communicating events and making sure everything technology related ran smoothly. I loved it during my first years, but as my church started getting more involved with our community my interests changed as well. I wanted to offer more to my community but could only do so much with an IT degree that I didn’t want to use.
Having that in mind, I started scrolling through the graduate degrees ACU offered and found the MS in social work. Once I got here and learned that ACU also offered the MA in theology, I thought it could be beneficial as well, and I signed up for it.
It might be counterintuitive for some, but I think these two degrees complement each other really well. Social work gives me a lot of different skills to work with individuals and communities. And theology is a great safeguard against letting that social justice impulse in me take over my conception of God and the church. I think churches could greatly benefit from having social workers and theologians on staff if they take God and their involvement in their communities seriously.
- What are your plans after you finish school?
It is hard to think farther than a semester at a time, so instead of plans, I have various ideas for post-graduation. I have been looking at different jobs I could apply for, but I also don’t discard the possibility of getting a PhD in the future. One of the best thing about my degrees is that they prepare me to do either after graduation.
- What is one thing that has surprised you about graduate school?
I am learning a lot more about Brazil than I expected. I had the opportunity to take a Latin America History class in my first year in the GST and that gave me great insight into the situation of my country and even my church. And this semester I got the chance to read a Brazilian theologian for one of my classes, and it was great to see good academic work that originated from Brazil. I always loved Brazil but now I have a whole new fascination for it thanks to ACU.
- How has ACU and the Graduate School of Theology transformed you since your time here?
My time here at ACU and in the GST has been very humbling. I was born and raised a Christian. After going to church for so long, every Sunday became just an affirmation of things I already knew and practiced. Contrary to that, my GST classes have been good reminders that the mystery of God is something I can never take for granted.