“You’re Never Too Old!” with Rhonda Gorham (Certificate in Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care/17)

It was a warm summer night in 2015, and Rhonda Gorham was a guest at a friend’s birthday potluck. Sitting beside her was Major Joanne Biggs who at the time was one of the instructors of the Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care certificate program at Booth University College’s School for Continuing Studies.

During their conversation, Major Biggs tossed out the idea of Rhonda joining the program. “Oh, but I’m too old to go back to school” Rhonda replied. “You’re never too old!” Major Biggs answered. Late that night, with that dialogue still in her mind, Rhonda felt a strong calling and decided: “I’m going to do this!” A week later, she met with Major Cathie Harris, the program coordinator, filled out her application and, at 63 years of age, entered the Booth UC community.

“This Lutheran felt very welcomed by all of my Salvationist classmates. The curriculum was terrific and the chaplaincy training was invaluable and prepared me for a wonderful and challenging career at a time when many people I knew were retiring from work. And it all came about because of a conversation at a dinner party!”

Rhonda graduated in 2017 at the age of 65 and has been working as a ministry manager for the Lutheran Urban Ministry Corp. (known as the Urban), a non-profit outreach for marginalized, homeless and working poor in the west end of Winnipeg.

Although she was a volunteer and member of the board of directors of Urban prior to her time at Booth UC, she feels that pursuing the Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care certificate was crucial to becoming a ministry manager and to her development as an individual and as a professional. “It was my training in spiritual care at Booth University College that gave me the listening and responding skills and the well-rounded chaplaincy training to handle this position with confidence and skills” she says.

Thinking back on her own experience, Rhonda quickly points out what she would say to someone considering going back to school or pursuing a post-secondary education. “Booth UC has a family feel to it and you won’t feel like a student number. It’s never too late to enroll and fulfill your educational goals!”

When asked about her future, she states, “I’m 70 years old. I love my work and don’t have retirement on my horizon anytime soon!”

To learn more about Booth UC’s Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care program, visit our School for Continuing Studies.


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