Even higher education: Baylor graduates pursue true vocation at Dallas seminary

By Anna Flagg

Two Baylor alumnae have decided to follow their passions and return to school. Ann Golding, class of 1979, and Susan Rutledge, class of 1986, both attended the Dallas Theological Seminary.

After graduating from Baylor, Golding used her secondary education degree to teach for five years, followed by more than 25 years of volunteer work. In 2003, she trained to become a hospital chaplain and ended up writing a curriculum based on her experiences titled “The Ministry of Presence.”

“I love doing pastoral care because you are able to minister to people at their point of need without spiritual, racial or economic barriers,” Golding said.

Visiting Israel with her best friend in 2006, Golding said her life was changed because her burgeoning understanding of the life of Christ and God’s word. Golding arrived home in March 2006 and applied to Dallas Theological Seminary by June.

She began seminary in 2006, just as her daughter, Mallory Golding, began her first year at Baylor. Mallory said the two were able to sympathize about their course loads.

“I would call and complain about studying for a test, and she would say the same thing back to me,” Mallory said. “My parents have always been so supportive of me, but it was even more special to have my mom be both supportive and empathetic during hard times at school.”

Golding said she gained a new perspective by returning to school later in life. She said she found it exciting to pursue higher education voluntarily, already aware of her passions, rather than going to school in order to secure a better job later or attending college because society expects it.

Golding said she enjoyed being around young people because she missed her own kids and being around young people has kept her up-to-date on the modern church.

Golding graduated in May and though she is still searching for a job, she said she knows God will open a door. God’s sovereignty, she said, has been a theme in her life, and she is thankful both for her experiences at seminary and her education there.

“The first day of class I had tears in my eyes because of the magnitude of what I was learning and who I was learning it from,” Golding said. “Even five years later, I had tears in my eyes on the last day of class.”

Much like Golding, Rutledge started out on a secular path, using her degree in business by finding a job at a bank. She became a full-time mother following the birth of her second child. Four children and a Bible study later, Rutledge decided it was time to follow her heart.

“While I liked banking, it wasn’t something I loved, so it wasn’t hard to give up when I had children,” Rutledge said. “In the back of my mind, I had always wanted to do something with psychology and knew that’s where I wanted my life to head.”

After talking with a close friend and discovering that the Dallas Theological Seminary offered a biblical counseling degree, she decided to pursue it in order to better understand her potential clients in their walks of faith.

Rutledge and Golding met at the seminary’s orientation in 2006. Rutledge, who is on a seven-year plan, will graduate in May 2013, in order to devote time to both her studies and her children. Rutledge said that she has become more sympathetic to her children’s procrastination because she also studies at the last minute.

Rutledge said that while she enjoyed getting to know her younger classmates, she is also grateful for meeting a handful of friends her own age who share similar experience. Though Rutledge said she is unsure of her future, she hopes to find a counseling job either in a church setting or a private practice.

“My passion is in the marriage and family area because, after all, that is what I have been doing with my life for the past 20 years,” Rutledge said.