Alumnus Cecilia Minchow credits Concordia Nebraska for strengthening her faith, giving her the gift of community

Published by Amy Crawford 2 weeks ago on Tue, Jun 4, 2024 8:00 AM

When she was searching for a college, Cecilia Minchow ’22 was initially looking for a place to study psychology and music therapy from a Christian perspective. Her grandparents live near Concordia Nebraska, and she heard about the university’s annual Christmas at Concordia music event, so she scheduled a campus visit in late spring of her senior year in high school. She fell in love with the university and quickly found her place on campus. 

Minchow was a member of the University A Cappella Choir for four years, a member of the University Chamber Choir/Vocal Jazz Choir for three years and was also in several university theater productions. She served as the music department tour manager for four years, worked on the yearbook for two years and worked in the admissions department for four years. She was also part of the university praise and worship team for three years as a band member and led the department as worship organizer for two years. 

“There was so much I loved about that school,” she said. “The foundation of it all was the faith aspect. I'm Roman Catholic and being in a Christian environment that both supported me and pushed me to truly understand what it was I believed was exactly what I needed. Faith was woven into every aspect of my life at Concordia Nebraska. It was present in my courses, like when Dr. Robert Hermann lectured us on how science is God's way of making creation known to us and welcoming us into the narrative, and in my extra curriculars within all the music we sang both in worship and in our ensembles. People treated each other with more love and dignity, and through that faith foundation a familial atmosphere was created.” 

Minchow has a bachelor of arts in psychology and behavioral sciences and a minor in music from the university.  

“One of the great things I gained for my faith was the gift of community. It was while I was living in Seward, Nebraska, that I joined my first two Bible studies, I experienced faith-oriented friendships that were whole and joyful and Christ-centered, even as we spent our time in ‘secular’ based activities like camping or line dancing,” she said. “I found a few of these friends right away in college, but most of them were found in the midst of the pandemic in Seward and carried on through graduation and even to today. Learning the power of community in a time like 2020 when we were all forced to be apart taught me how much I needed other faithful individuals in my life and gave me the final push I needed to reprioritize my life. I started carving out time to be with friends who pushed me in my faith, I started attending chapel more, driving to Lincoln daily to get integrated into the Catholic community at the Newman center, and my life became so much more joyful when I was running the race with good people.” 

She also completed courses in school counseling toward a master’s degree from the university, which she started during her undergraduate junior year.  

“I think my professors helped me find what the Lord made me for by allowing me to explore and to question. I always knew I wanted to serve people, and I thought it would be through some form of counseling,” she said. “My professors were available to me, they listened and created opportunities for me to test the waters and to try new things. Even the professors for my [general education classes] and my minor became true friends during my time on campus. I had the chance to run the Praise and Worship department for two years, to organize ensemble tours, and to speak publicly at the ground-breaking ceremony for the music building and at the 2022 Presidential Banquet, and each opportunity pushed me professionally, giving great experience and increasing my skills. It was through an internship I landed for my capstone that I realized the Lord was calling me to a life of ministry.” 

She worked in the admissions office for a year and served as part-time campus ministry intern at Pius X High School in Lincoln, where she organized worship, retreats and small groups for the students.  

“Concordia was where I learned to claim my own faith and how to have interdenominational conversations. I learned to read scripture and how to understand it, and was introduced to new forms of worship,” she said. “It was the place I truly learned how to ask questions and how to listen…to understand what people were saying from their hearts and behavior and not just through their words. I became curious and dove into more solid writings, learning the apostles' teachings, and through knowledge became all the more convicted. As a missionary, I return to these basic skills of listening, conversing, and learning on a daily basis. Yes, I learned so much in the classroom about so many topics, and for that I am grateful, but the skills I gained the most from were the ones promised to me in the mission statement: to ‘equip men and women for lives of service, learning, and leadership in both the church and world’.” 

In February 2023, she paused her master’s degree studies when she applied to serve in missions through FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). She was assigned to New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico where she has served since. She hopes to return to high school ministry in Nebraska in fall 2025.  

“As a missionary with FOCUS, I serve on a team with three other missionaries, to walk in faith with the students at NMSU,” she explained. “We meet students authentically on campus, in the city or at the local church and take time to genuinely get to know them before inviting them into a Bible study. As we continue through Bible study, students are then asked into discipleship where they learn the skills to walk with other students themselves. We help students to live out the four habits of a true disciple as found in Acts 2:42: prayer, sacraments, fellowship, and the apostles' teachings, and we help them turn to the Lord and seek freedom in areas of chastity, sobriety, and excellence. As the students continue through discipleship, the missionaries welcome them onto mission with us and they are able to ask their peers into their own Bible studies, and the ripple continues.” 

As a missionary, Minchow said her daily schedule varies quite a bit. She said that her mission work is designed to be formative for those serving as missionaries. Her schedule includes time set aside each day for prayer, worship, discipleship time, scripture reading and formation classes offered by various theologians and founders of the mission organization. She also attends various planning meetings, leads several Bible studies and discipleship groups and assists the Catholic Campus Ministry with their events. 

“I find it so fulfilling to walk with students and to teach them the lessons I learned but in a more structured way,” she said. “I get to witness the Lord changing lives and encountering His children in a deep and personal way on a daily basis, whether it's through the Eucharist, in a Bible study or through a one-on-one conversation. I love watching their lives change, seeing how it affects every aspect of their lives from the media they take in to the way they speak, dress or structure their day, and I know this is where the Lord wants me for now. The job isn't easy. I would much rather be serving high schoolers and living in Nebraska near my family and friends, but the Lord has provided for me here and has made it abundantly clear that this is where I am meant to be for this stage of my life.” 

Minchow is one of seven children, the only girl in a family with six brothers: three older and three younger. She describes her parents Todd and Laura as “incredible, loving parents….truly the best.” 

“My oldest brother is married, and he and his wife gave me my nieces and nephew who are my three favorite people in the whole world,” she said. “My second oldest brother is an actor in New York City, and the third is a strength and conditioning coordinator for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. The brother right after me is still in college at University of Nebraska - Lincoln, the next one is graduating from Pius X this year, and the youngest is a junior at Pius X. We are all very close, they are truly my world, and I am so grateful to be able to walk through life with them.” 

Since a mission-focused is not a “typical 9-5 job,” she said that her hobbies are often incorporated with the lives of the students she is serving. Minchow likes traveling and attending concerts, as well as camping, hiking, spending time at the lake and being outdoors in general. She also loves line dancing, visiting wineries, and attending Czech festivals and jazz concerts.  

“If I have just a little bit of down time at home, I'll usually clean, read a book, listen to a podcast, go for a drive, or visit a chapel to play some praise and worship with my guitar,” she said. 

Concordia University, Nebraska emphasizes the Christ-centered message of the Gospel in all aspects of the higher education the university delivers. In addition to promoting a supportive culture where students can grow and thrive, Concordia Nebraska ensures that students receive a Lutheran, Christian higher education, built on four foundational promises—community, inquiry, purpose and wisdom—that make certain students will be equipped not only with a set of skills and a degree, but also a sense of Christian vocation and purpose for the future.