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Alumni Spotlight: Kaja Heinecke

Kaja Heinecke, DCE
'04 Concordia University, St. Paul

Director of Youth Ministry
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
Iowa City, Iowa

What did you like about the CSP DCE program?
For me, the best aspect of the program was how, throughout the entire five-year course of study, it prepared me for ministry. My practicum and fieldwork during my junior year were extremely helpful. I still have my binder full of gathered thoughts from both a school setting and a parish setting that I refer back to weekly. These experiences helped me form who I am as a ministry leader.

I have to say my internship year in Wichita, KS was amazing. To work with people in ministry, to gain their knowledge, to experience and develop my own ministry skills, and to work with such amazing people could not have prepared me any more to graduate the following year.

Any advantages of having the internship during the fourth year - as opposed to the fifth year?
Personally, I appreciated knowing that I had one more year to calmly pray, and think about this Calling God had for my life. To realize and acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses God has given me. I almost think that a clean break for the Intern and their internship church is healthy.

Why did you attend CSP?
What attracted me first about CSP is its closeness to a busy downtown and its close knit instructors. Upon reflecting on how well the staff treated each other I came to the conclusion they would also treat their students with the same amount of respect, and I was right.

What are you doing now in your ministry?
God has me currently working at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Iowa City, IA as their Director of Youth Ministry. I serve mainly the Junior and Senior Youth along with their families.

What do you like about serving as a DCE?
I would have to say hands down that the best thing about serving as a DCE is the close personal faith-based relationships I have received. Getting to know each of the youth and helping their faith to grow has been a challenge and blessing. God has blessed me through my youth - as I so affectionately call them "My Kids" and their families. Though I am away from my personal families, I have countless brothers and sisters in Christ.

Do you have a favorite Concordia memory?
My favorite memory of college, that is a hard one! I would have to say my favorite memory is watching a movie, Rose Red, with my suitemates and friends in Hyatt dorm during my junior year. The movie was broken up into three nights so we ordered a Papa Johns Pizza for each night. We sprawled out on our couch and beds thrilled to have a study break with each other.