GST Student Spotlight: Débora Viana

Débora (standing second to the right) with her family in Brazil.



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.