Alumnus Jenelle Miller: “I met Jesus at Concordia Nebraska, and it changed my life.”

Published by Amy Crawford 3 weeks ago on Mon, Mar 25, 2024 12:46 PM

Jenelle Marie (Hallaert) Miller ’15 found her way to Concordia Nebraska due to the university’s art therapy degree offering. From Omaha, the university’s Seward campus was close to home, offered the specialized education she was interested in, and she was also able to play on the women’s golf team. Miller double-majored in art therapy and psychology

She said her time at Concordia Nebraska was special. She met life-long friends in both peers and staff that she still stayed in touch with today. She said her professors made profound impact on her and helped her to discover her purpose. 

“They gave me the encouragement to explore and find my identity in a welcoming and nonjudgmental fashion. They helped me to mature and grow in wisdom,” she said. “This gave me the ability to withstand constructive feedback and find ways to leverage my strengths to refine my career path.” 

Miller said that without a doubt, her time at the university was life changing because it brought her to faith in Christ. 

“I met friends that encouraged me to attend Bible study and chapel, which ultimately brought me to salvation through Jesus Christ,” she said.  “I met Jesus at Concordia Nebraska, and it changed my life. I got more than a degree. I started a new life.” 

Following graduation from Concordia Nebraska, Miller went to the University of Kansas, earning a master of science in counseling psychology.  She then went to George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and earned a master of art in art therapy practice.  

“While living in Kansas, I worked as a research assistant for the university. I also interned at an acute psychiatric residential treatment facility for youth and an inner-city charter school providing therapy services to children and families,” she said. “When I lived in Washington, D.C., I worked in a Christian counseling group practice providing therapy to individuals and families. At the same time, I worked at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as a research associate. While in D.C. I also interned at a community mental health day program for adults and an oncology unit for youth at a hospital providing art therapy services.” 

Miller now lives in Omaha, Nebraska and serves as the senior director of programs for a gospel rescue mission called Open Door Mission. She also periodically teaches art therapy courses at the university. 

“When I started working at Open Door Mission in 2020 during COVID, I was hired full time as their art therapist,” she said. “I facilitated an art studio and provided individual and group therapy to all guests at the homeless shelter. In 2023 I became the first director of behavioral and mental health. Then in 2024, I became the senior director of programs, where I oversee the operations of all four of the shelter buildings on campus and the behavioral and mental health department.” 

Daily, Miller collaborates with a team of directors that oversee the women and family shelter, the men's shelter, the tenant apartments, and the behavioral and mental health department. She advocates for the directors of those departments to ensure they are taken care of so they can take care of their employees and the guests. 

The shelter at Open Door Mission can house up to 917 people. Miller said her work there is incredibly fulfilling. 

“I have the privilege of hearing about the success stories of people changing their lives and breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty,” she said. 

Miller was instrumental in getting an art therapy bill passed this year in the state of Nebraska to allow for Nebraska certification of art therapists.  

She is married to Noah Tate Miller, who is originally from Texas. He moved to Omaha in 2020 to serve in a job as an electrical engineer. They have one dog named Bluebonnet Miller who they call Bonnie. When she’s not working, she enjoys creating artwork, golfing reading non-fiction and spending time with friends and family. 

Are you interested in learning more about art therapy offerings at Concordia Nebraska? Discover more here