One Family, Three Graduates.

At this year’s commencement ceremony the name Colwell was called three times. Sisters Jessie and Jocelyn were joined by their father Tim who completed a Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Studies through Prairie’s Online Education Department.

The Colwells hail from Ross River, Yukon where they have been serving in ministry with SEND International for the past 18 years. Jessie and Jocelyn grew up in Ross River alongside their siblings, as parents Tim and Gwendy worked as church planters and evangelists among the indigenous Dena people. Tim first attended Bible College in New York State prior to moving to Northern Canada, but did not complete a Bachelor’s degree. While his previous schooling focused on church planting, he had not been able to take any cross-cultural ministry courses; a field in which he was now engaged. The opportunity for Tim to further his studies arose when, in 2015, Jessie and Jocelyn enrolled at Prairie in the one year Outdoor Leadership program, Explore. It was then that the idea was first planted that Tim may also be able to finish his degree through Prairie. After inquiring, Tim discovered that he would be able to complete his degree through Prairie’s Distance Education Department (now Online Education Department) and therefore be able to remain in Ross River and engaged in his ministry.

Tim also made it his goal to finish his courses in time so that he would be able to graduate with his two daughters, both of whom and decided to stay at Prairie to complete Bachelor’s degrees. Jocelyn remained in the Outdoor Leadership program and completed a Bachelor of Arts in Ministry, while Jessie switched to a Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Studies. Jessie finished her degree by taking part in GlobeTREK, a 9 month immersive intercultural experience which allows students to travel around the world, focusing the majority of their time in one nation. Jessie spent her six-month placement in Nairobi, Kenya working with Home of Hope, an organization which focuses on providing care for orphans and children in the developing world.

The Colwells’ paths reconvened on a snowy April 27th day when their dream was realized and all three crossed the stage graduating with Bachelor’s degrees from Prairie College. Tim admitted that at times it was a struggle to balance full time ministry work, a family, and school, but noted that Prairie’s asynchronous course format, which allows students to start courses at any time and move at their own pace, made it easier to fit his academic responsibilities into his already busy life. Tim also commented that despite having years of experience working in a cross-cultural setting, he found the courses he took helpful. “The intercultural courses were very practically focused; at first I wondered how relevant they would be to me, but now I wish I had taken them years ago,” Tim remarked. Tim also expressed his gratitude to the professors who made themselves available for questions and helped him to re-acclimatize to academic work.

All three Colwells move on from Prairie with unique experiences and are excited about what the future will hold. Tim and Gwendy plan to remain in Ross River, YT for the foreseeable future, while both Jessie and Jocelyn are excited to see what opportunities may present themselves in the near future.

Prairie currently offers five of its programs, including 3 Bachelor’s degrees, online.


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