My CSU Story: Emily Gehman

My CSU Story: Emily Gehman

Spoiler alert: The 10-year plan I was formulating when I left for college is not even close to the reality of my life today.

But a strange and God-awesome series of events happened at CSU—an on-campus job, a conference where I met mentors and a book project that launched my writing career. And now I have my dream job. Except I never actually dreamed it—until now.

I’m a storytelling coach. I help people realize they have a story and walk them through sharing it through the written word. I’ve written for places like Christianity Today, AUTHENTIKMag and the Baptist Bulletin, and I’ve been part of the editing and publishing process for several books, including CSU professor Sherrie Holloway’s. I didn’t know this was a thing, but now that I do, I love it.

Change of Plans

You’ve heard that adage, right? The one that goes, “Want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.” Okay, so the Bible doesn’t exactly say God laughs at us, but it does say, “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). Maybe that should have been a red flag for me.

I arrived on CSU’s campus ready to make everything on my life itinerary happen. I knew I wanted to be in youth ministry, so the counseling program made sense, as it is a valuable ministry skill. I not only received excellent academic training, but I saw biblical counseling modeled by the CSU faculty and staff on a daily basis. (And yes, I was the recipient on more than one occasion.) I was excited to help people through youth ministry.

But when it became increasingly clear I wouldn’t be jumping into vocational youth ministry exactly how I imagined, I realized my plan needed some tweaking. I wasn’t feeling the pull to professional counseling, though I still loved the idea of helping people. And I wasn’t sure I was ready for a full-time ministry position. No—what I really wanted to do was write. I had a part-time work-study job in CSU’s Communications Department and a seemingly unrelated degree in counseling.

That’s where the invaluable part of the CSU experience came in—the part you don’t see on your transcripts or itemized tuition statement. It’s the people. The relationships I built with CSU professors and staff members had a huge part in not just what I do today, but who I am today.

Like my boss in the Communications Department, who taught me almost everything there is to know about finding and writing a good story.

Like the CSU administrative staff, who folded me into their lives and viewed me as a friend, not a number.

Like my counseling professors, who saw potential and supported me in reaching it, even if it meant I wouldn’t become a world-renowned counselor trained by their fine department.

Like my Bible professors, who pushed me to explore and apply God’s Word beyond the classroom walls and into the corners of my life—because they cared enough to know about those corners.

Like my dorm mom, who loved me and showed me what it meant to be faithful to Jesus in real life. (And some days it got real. Very real.)

When I graduated from CSU, I wasn’t ready for a career just because I had gained knowledge. I was ready for a career because I had learned where to find wisdom and what it meant to be all about Jesus in real life.

Fast Forward 10 Years

Not long ago, I realized what I do now is the perfect blend of counseling and writing: storytelling. It’s something I couldn’t have dreamed up on my own, but it’s perfect, and I love it.

I even had a client say she felt like she had “a counselor and an editor all in one.” Whoa!

So yeah, maybe our plans make God laugh. But then He winks and says, “Oh yeah? Here’s the career I made you for and prepared you for. You couldn’t have planned it anyways. But I think you’re gonna love it.”

Emily Gehman (’12) majored in Counseling and went on to earn her Master of Arts in English from the University of Michigan. She’s now a storytelling coach and online managing editor for AUTHENTIK Magazine at Shattered Media in Lapeer, Michigan. She has eight nieces and nephews and enjoys coaching Special Olympics, running, biking, reading, hammock-ing and drinking coffee.

Photo: Victoria Rose the Photographer 

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