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A Message from Dr. Michael Thomas

February 16, 2024 - 2 minute read

If you are a regular reader of the Concordia Magazine, you know that we have devoted a lot of time over the last few years to communicate how a Concordia education prepares each and every student for all their callings in life.

As a Lutheran Christian university, we confess that God calls each of us to many unique vocations throughout our lives. Some of our callings are connected to our professional vocations. Indeed, some are called to be writers, teachers, chemists, accountants, or salespersons. Each of these callings is a gift of God.

At Concordia, we aim to instill in each student the idea that God brings his blessings to the world through our unique gifts, talents, relationships, and ultimately through our care and our love of each other. By offering this much larger definition of calling, we remind students that God likely has plans for them that they cannot even imagine. We want to instill in them an expectation that they should be prepared to open and walk through many, unexpected doors during their life.

In this issue, you will meet one of our students who walked through such a door and found herself as a sole female on an Alaskan fishing boat. Think, Deadliest Catch!

Lilly Niccum ̓21 likely did not know what God had in mind for her when she entered Dr. Sean Bignami’s biology class. Knowing Dr. Bignami’s knack for involving his students in his research on pismo clams, it probably wasn’t long before Lilly caught the vision and found herself standing in the surf collecting data on pismo clam migration patterns. Still, it’s quite a leap from standing in hip boots on a California beach to striding across a wet, pitching deck, donning bright orange Grundéns in the north Pacific!

But this is the ultimate outcome of our curriculum, as students experience the freedom to explore their future and their faith. At Concordia University Irvine, we offer high- quality programs that prepare our students to grow personally, professionally, and spiritually. Our rigorous education challenges our students to push boundaries, ask life’s toughest questions, wrestle with dichotomies, and wade into the unknown, knowing that the faculty and staff are here to guide and mentor them. Each is then prepared with the hard and soft skills that they need to succeed in their callings and with the tools to adapt to the ever-changing workplace and world.

Lilly certainly took full advantage of Dr. Bignami’s academic and field courses. She mastered the hard skills required of marine biology. She honed her soft skills that allowed her to adapt to a new life as she walked through that hatch onto the deck of an Alaskan fishing vessel. Yet, in answering this call, Lilly helped to protect the seas from overfishing and to ensure the sustainability of livelihoods of those who make their living on the seas.

Lilly is just one example of our amazing graduates and all that they are accomplishing in the world, as each of our alumni serve to carry forth Concordia’s mission to serve the church and society through all their callings in life!

And just in case you are wondering: No, the color in our cover image has not been altered or enhanced in any way!

For His Students, 

Michael A. Thomas, Ph.D.


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