Video: Meet Professor Carlos Velez, Pastoral Ministry

The Nyack College Pastoral Ministry department equips men and women to successfully serve the church and not-for-profit organizations locally and globally. We also prepare students to be ministers in the workplace in any professional context. We focus on the well-rounded development of our students in the areas of attitude, knowledge, and skill so that they graduate equipped with the following: an understanding of their unique calling and gifting; the ability to lead with a servant’s heart; a deep understanding of the Bible; healthy emotional, physical, and relational habits; spiritual maturity and passion; and the desire to apply biblical principles to every area of their life.

Meet Professor Velez who speaks here about the unique experience of pastoral ministry at Nyack College:

As a teacher of pastoral ministry, what is your greatest passion?

Having been on a pastoral staff for 21 years, the church, in particular, the local church, very much a part of my life and part of my heart. I enjoy teaching students and preparing students to do the work of the ministry. That’s my greatest passion.

How does a degree in pastoral ministry prepare its students?

What’s unique is really the hands-on experience. Pastoral ministry can’t be just knowledge-oriented. You really have to get your hands dirty. You have to get your experience in there. In my Pastoral Methods class, students have to perform a wedding ceremony, do a funeral service, and a Sunday morning worship service. It gives them good background of, this is how we design it, this is how we do it.

I think what I’m most proud of with the students is understanding where they came from, where they were when they graduated, and what they became afterwards. Sometimes, they come in feeling like they’re worthless. But, through Nyack College, and through the various programs, not just pastoral ministry, but in all of the different disciplines, you begin to see that a student begins to feel a little bit more confident. So, by the time they graduate, they are a totally different person than when they came in.


Class of 2017 Mortarboards

We asked 2017 graduates from the Rockland and New York City Campus about why they decorated their mortarboard. Here is what they said.

Caitlyn Thomas – Business 

“I think I am quite ready for another adventure.”

And for me, I’m all about having adventure in my life. College was definitely one. It was a scary, messy, amazing adventure and I just feel that I’m ready to move to the next one now that I’m graduating.


Rachel Parker – Youth and Family Studies

“In waves of change we find our way.”

So first of all, I love the beach/ocean so I wanted my cap to be something along those lines if possible. When I found this idea I loved it! You can ask anyone who knows me and knows that this cap idea is very much me. But I also picked it because no matter what we go through in life, we find our way. You can take that in a Christian way… no matter what Jesus is our way, or you can take that in [the] sense [that] a lot happens in college but in the end we go in the direction that we wanted to from the start. It can be looked at in many ways! But I love it because it reminds me of things I love and what I love to do.

Yahveh N. Calderón – Pastoral Ministry

“Para Ti…” which translated means “For you…”

On the cap, I have images of family and friends who have greatly impacted my life, but sadly [I] was not able to fit everyone. My island of Puerto Rico is also on there to symbolize that I also did it for them!  It means that I did not just do this for myself, but for all of those who have invested in my life in big and small ways. This was for them.


Momoko Black – Interdisciplinary studies in Business and Intercultural Studies       &   Lillie Sakura Van Houten – B.S/M.S childhood special education

Momoko: The image on the cap represents 2 things for me. 1) my love for Dr. Seuss (as I quoted him from “oh the places you’ll go” [during] my senior year in high school and so I found it fitting to do another my last year of college. 2) I had the privilege of graduating alongside my sister who happens to love Dr. Seuss and quoted him also her senior year of high school. So we knew we had to do it again.  We came up with the idea to use Thing 1 & 2 to represent all the things we love about each other and Dr. Seuss.

Lillie: [I’m] graduating with my younger sister and we wanted to do a theme. Dr. Seuss is … our favorite author and we frequently use and live by quotes from his stories.


Conor Halcott –  History

I picked Adventure Time for my cap.

The reason I picked it was because I watched it during stressful points in college and it feels like I’m now going on my own adventure. Plus my amazing girlfriend painted it for me.


Carly Heinbaugh – Interdisciplinary Studies: Bible and ICS

“Great is his faithfulness”

My time at Nyack required the faithfulness of God and it stretched my own. I formed a few incredible friendships, learned from the wisest and experienced a lot of devastation at the same time. In a lot of ways my faith was destroyed and built up, destroyed and built up again. If it weren’t for God’s faithfulness in various ways, I wouldn’t have finished college both encouraged and ready to work. Through best friends and a couple outstanding professors, God exhibited his faithfulness and I’m grateful for it.

Daniel Kiernan (DK) –  Youth and Family Studies

“Loud Mouths” “Dk-47” “Mom & Dad” “Jer 31:3-4” “Ps 138:8”

The first two quotes refer to a huge portion of my friend group, the Loud Mouth Gang, who I get to create alongside under the artist name Dk-47. I love them. The next is just a shout-out to my parents because they’ve always held it down for me throughout my college experience. The verses are two passages that have helped remind my heart of who God is to me and what He’s up to in my life.


Clarissa Orozco – Social Work

“Grace carried me here and by grace I will go”

The moment I stepped out of high school I thought I had it all figured out, until a year into college when I saw my life in shambles. I found Nyack and I knew that was God’s grace upon my life. I didn’t have it all together.  I wasn’t the best student but my heart desired something better. The last 4 years have been filled with endless grace and every time I felt I was undeserving of it it wrapped itself even more. Grace broke the barriers and the fears in my life. It unveiled my worth, who I am and who I belong to. I’m not just another graduate in the world. I’m a graduate with style and grace.


Sara Donado – Music–Instrumental Performance

Sarah Donado (Left) & Clarissa Orozoco (Right)

“The Lord holds my future”

The message on my cap is what I believe defines my life at the moment. I don’t know exactly what my future will look like but I have entrusted it to the Lord and I believe he will lead me always.


Deanna Lindsay – Interdisciplinary Studies: Early Childhood Education & Music

Hi! I’m Deanna Lindsay, I recently graduated with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies: Early Childhood Education and Music. This leads to the image on my cap! I wanted something that incorporated my passions. I love teaching I have been providing child care for different families since I was 12. Music has also been a part for my life for as long as I can remember. I joined my church’s children’s choir when I was 5! The scripture on the chalkboard on my cap is Isaiah 42 and the beginning of this chapter talks about how God is pleased with (me) his servant. It encourages me not to lose heart or crush the weak ones around me.  It also confirms that I am called to other nations and people groups. It states that distant lands will await my instruction. It goes on to talk about how worthy of praise and worship God is!

This is my life scripture! I also have a tattoo to represent how important it means to me my tattoo also reminds me of my calling.

Daniel Rivera is also an alumni of Nyack College ’16! He is an amazing artist and brought my vision to life!


Sarah Scheidt –  Social work &  Dailyn Davila – English

Sarah Scheidt (Left) and Dailyn Davila (Right)

Sarah: “Thanks mom and dad.” 

I actually wanted to make my cap funny, and planned to write “oh Scheidt, I graduated.” But then, last minute, I started to get really sentimental and grateful. I wouldn’t have been able to get my degree without my parents and their financial support and love.  So I wanted to thank them. The symbol is a Celtic symbol for eternal love. That’s special to me because I’m Irish and even though my parents got divorced when I was young, they both love me in their own special way a lot, and I think that’s special. It took both of their love and strengths to help make this degree happen … and I’m really grateful for all I’ve learned and all I can become in this world because of this degree.

Dailyn: I chose 1 Peter 1:6 because I wanted scripture that portrayed the JOY AND HAPPINESS that will come out of this transitional season. Although graduating is a SUPER SCARY concept to me, I believe that with God there IS WONDERFUL JOY AHEAD!!! I also threw some flowers on it because WHO DOESNT LIKE FLOWERSSSSS?! I wanted to be the real life Snapchat filter.


Isha Fuentes – Music In Worship

I wanted to incorporate my major onto my cap being that music and worship  is also a huge part of my life. It was a very challenging major but the reward was worth it. I used one of the songs from my jury that I performed and also incorporated it onto my cap. [That way] when I look at it, I’ll always remember my hard work and dedication …  Lastly, it was always my father’s dream to see me graduate from college. He passed away a few weeks after my high school graduation. I used the color red on my cap because it was his favorite color and I wanted to have a part of his memory on my cap.



 Rifka Simmons –  Psychology

“Just Keep Swimmin”

It symbolizes persistence to me and it’s a pun from the movie Finding Dory. I thought it was pretty clever and it’ll serve as a reminder for me when I think of my college experience.



Realize Who’s Opinions Matter Most

how do we love godNo matter where you go or what you do, you will eventually encounter people who do not approve of you. You have probably heard it said a thousand times that “You can’t please everyone,” but you might not realize how true and relevant this statement is. It took me a long time to realize this, but it is impossible to make everyone approve of the way you are and the things you do. Unfortunately, even after realizing this truth it is difficult to balance the desire to please with the inability to please everyone. I have found that the best way to find that balance is to figure out who’s opinions about you matter the most. I disagree with those who say that you shouldn’t care what people think; you simply shouldn’t be affected by what everyone thinks.

I find it helpful to classify the people in my life by the degree to which I allow their opinions to affect me. The first and most important group consists of the people who’s opinions can change me. These are the people that I trust and that are closest to me. They include my family, girlfriend, and closest friends. When they disapprove of the things I do, they are aiming to make me better, not tear me down. Be very, very careful about allowing people into this category. When you let the wrong people change you, you lose track of who you are in the process.

The second type of person is one whose opinion can affect my mood, but not my personality or my actions. These are people who I know and am familiar with, but they are not very close to me. When they have a negative opinion of me, there may be good or bad intentions behind it. They may upset me with their opinions, but they cannot change me. Do not let everyone who is friendly with you have the power to change you.

CTA button for Blog UGThe third and final type of person is one whose opinion cannot affect me at all. This group includes anyone I don’t know or know very little. When people like this disapprove of me, I ignore them. Negative opinions from this type of person should be brushed off and ignored. There is no reason to let someone upset you or change you when they do not know you or have your best interest in mind.

It is liberating to understand that few people’s opinions of you should really be very important to you. Enacting this concept in your life will help you to stop stressing over what people think of you, and you will expend less time and energy trying to gain their approval. Only be truly concerned with the opinions of people who have your best interest in mind; all other people’s negative opinions should mean little, if anything to you.

2013 Graduate Daniel Looks Back

commencement line at nyack college

Daniel Ortiz sat behind the front desk of the Admission’s Office inside Shuman Hall.  Finishing his Nyack College years with a bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Ministry, Daniel looks back at his undergraduate experience on campus.

undergraduate degee

Freshman year was “crazy and unexpected”, he stated.  Everything was a huge learning experience even though Daniel was once just happy to graduate high school.  “I’m the first person [in my family] to graduate from college.”  At first he wanted to go into the military but his sister encouraged him into another direction, toward higher learning and Nyack.

“It felt right.” Daniel said,  tilting in his chair.  Born and raised in New York City, he was glad to transition away from an urban lifestyle to a campus that was beautifully set overlooking the Hudson River.  Leaving home was a difficult decision but in doing so Daniel says that God restored his relationship with his parents.  By leaving, he could appreciate them more.

banner at graduation westchester county center

Like any teenager, he felt his parents were overprotective but as he looks back over the past four years, he’s grown to understand their beliefs and actions.  “Superglad,” he said, describing the stronger bond he feels towards them.

“To see my parents so happy at graduation… It’s meant everything to me.” Daniel, the youngest of six, added and discussed how faith is a verb, an action word.  His time as a Nyack Warrior gave him new perspective as well as opportunities.

the bible

As a front desk coordinator assistant, he likes to work closely with both the director and assistant director of admissions.  They teach him about counseling and behind-the-scenes practices in college enrollment.  But he also said that he is grateful for learning about leadership from them.

At the end of our conversation, I asked Daniel “What has been the highlights of attending Nyack?”

His face is serious as he says without hesitation.

Above all “I understand my relationship with Christ.  As a kid, I was in choir and preached. But here, I learned that I am never alone.  Even when academics and relationships caused trouble, my teachers pointed me back to Christ.”

Second, “meeting my fiancé.  She is a student here too, from Minnesota and one of the biggest factors for my relationship with Christ.”

Third, “Being able to walk across that stage [at graduation].  My high school was a ‘push school.’”  Daniel’s secondary school was a funnel to process students through the grades and rush them through graduation.  One teacher, Daniel said, would finish the lesson and then look at the class, saying “You’re never gonna remember that tomorrow.”

commencement line at nyack college

Daniel shook his head lightly and smirked at me as if saying “Can you believe it?’

Today, Daniel continues working for Nyack College as he and his future wife plan their wedding.  Congratulations, Daniel!

Loving God, Serving People, and Learning Always: The Life of a Youth Intern

This summer, I will be working a few jobs. The one I am most excited for is my internship. God has blessed me with an amazing opportunity to serve Him this summer as a youth intern for a Nyack alum, Justin Reese. Since I started this job just last week, I have been learning a great deal already; most recently in youth group Sunday school. This Sunday morning, God taught me two incredibly important things I will need in life, and particularly for my internship this summer.


Me with my boss and role model, Justin Reese.

Since I go to Sunday school as a leader to these teens and pre-teens, the prominent goal in my mind is not to learn. I attend Sunday school to do my job– make relationships with this church’s students. We talk and joke around but when the lesson starts, it’s easy for me to block it all out with the mind set of “this doesn’t apply to me, it’s for the students”. But, this Sunday morning, God taught me quite the opposite.

As Justin got up to speak, and the students started to settle down, he grabbed our attention with the idea of a “God side” and a “people side” of our lives. He asked if, as believers, God will ever reject us. The students shook their heads in a corporate “no” since this answer seemed obvious enough. Next, Justin asked if people will ever reject us. The students nodded their heads “yes” wondering where exactly their youth pastor was going with this. “Is that why we spend most of our time trying to please people, and less time trying to please God? Because we feel like we have to earn people’s respect and love, but God’s will always be there?” This caused silence to fall over the room, because Justin had just brought up a serious truth. People– even believers– have the goal of pleasing people at the forefront of their mind most of the time. Justin then went on to make the point that, as Christians, our goal is to spend 100% of our time pleasing God, and 0% of it pleasing people. This doesn’t mean that we go around hating people and being bitter, but when we strive to please God, and only God, we will strive to please people too. The difference is that we will want to please our brothers and sisters, not to gain their approval, but rather out of our love for our Creator.

As I drove home from church that morning, I thought about how everything that God was trying to get through to me in that simple message. First of all, He made it incredibly clear that I will learn as much, if not more, from this internship than my students will. Beginning this job, I feel as if I am on the cusp of a very formative time in my life, and I need to be willing and ready to learn in all circumstances. Secondly, God also made it incredibly clear that my mission is to love and serve God this summer because that is when I will truly love my students and serve them to the best of my ability.

Staying Productive During Summer Vacation

Nyack College summer breakWarm weather, clean sheets, and home cooked food…Summer vacation is finally here! Now that finals are over, it’s finally time to rest. For most of us, all we want to do is eat, lay down, and watch T.V. It’s fine to do that for a little while, but it can be easy to let relaxing and eating become the extent of your summer activities. Here are a few tips to help you get off of the couch and stay productive during summer vacation:

1. Work! When you want to go to the movies, bowl, eat at a restaurant, or do anything else that isn’t free, having a steady job makes these activities hurt your wallet less. Many employers will take on college students for a few months while they are home from school. Outdoor jobs that are only available during the spring and summer will often look for college students as employees. I have life-guarded for almost five years, and I have always had a job waiting for me when I come home from Nyack College. Even year-round jobs will sometimes hire seasonal workers. Stay persistent and consistent during your job search. My dad always tells me that once you apply somewhere, you should call the place regularly until they give you a definite answer. This may seem like you are being a nuisance, but it is showing the employer that you are persistent and consistent. It never hurts to ask if an employer will take you on for May through August. Even if you get a few “no’s,” keep searching and applying until you find a good job.

2. Volunteer! Find time to give back to your community while you are on break. Soup kitchens, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and other organizations are usually looking for more volunteers to lend a hand, even if it is only for a few months. Getting active in your community helps to improve the place where you live, and it will be a rewarding experience for you. Plus it looks great on a resume for all those future job hunts!

3. Educate yourself! I know that the burdens of education are the very things that you are trying to escape during summer break, but it is good to keep your mind active even when you are away from school. When there are no tests to study for, no papers to write, and no professors to please, you are at liberty to choose the subject that you want to learn about. Your local library has hundreds of subjects to choose from; you can learn about something without having to worry about getting a bad grade in a class. This summer I plan on reading up on theological topics that I have not learned about in the classroom, but I would also like to take in a few good fictions for fun. You do not have to stick to educational topics; even leisurely reading fiction will give your brain some much-needed exercise.

4. Enjoy friends and family! When it comes time to have fun, have it with your loved ones that you don’t get to see during the school year. Your parents, siblings, and friends from home are available to spend time with and enjoy. There are countless activities that you can do with your family and friends, so take advantage of them. Don’t seclude yourself this summer; be sociable! Getting to relax and have fun with the people you love is the best, most fulfilling part of summer vacation.

Great Teachers at Nyack

A good teacher is one who cares about their students as more than just students, but as unique individuals who deserve your time and love. Throughout my life I have been blessed with several teachers like this. They care about your education, but also ask about your dreams and seek to get to know you as a person outside of the school day. There are so many great teachers here at Nyack who go above and beyond their required seat hours to pour into the lives of their students. As an intercultural studies major a few of my teachers live on campus and I have had the pleasure of going over to their houses and sharing a meal with them. It was wonderful to be able to spend time in community with these teachers and other classmates as we discuss life issues and our dreams for the future. This has been a huge blessing during my time here at Nyack so far.


There is one teacher in particular who I believe was a wonderful teacher inside of the classroom as well as a person who I knew I could talk to even once I finished his class. Barry Jordan was the missionary in residence this year at Nyack College and was the teacher of my Culture and Communication’s class. He, his wife Patty, and their family have been serving in Indonesia as missionaries for many years now, but have spent their last year on furlough at Nyack. Barry has become a sort of father-figure on campus through his open-door policy and continuing friendly gestures towards all students as well as the name by which myself and many other students call him. His name on campus is ‘Bapak’ which is the word for father in the country which he serves. When I was in Bapak’s class I learned much about culture and specifically about the people of Indonesia as CTA button for Blog UGone can quickly see his love for these people. I learned much from his personally stories of different situations which he had encountered on the mission field. It was truly a wonderful class to be a part of as I gained knowledge, but also made lasting friendships with my classmates and my teacher. Even though the class ended in December I still carry on a relationship with Bapak as well as many friendships that were born and nurtured in that class. Even now I have made many visits to Bapak’s house, nestled in the center of campus, for dinner, parties, or just to show up on his front lawn to be invited in for cake and ice cream. Bapak and his family’s hospitality and love was a huge gift to this campus for the past year and he will surely be missed as he heads back to do God’s work again in Indonesia.

What is Theology?

Pierce and PrestonWhile I was home for spring break enjoying the company of my family and some good food, I got to have a few good discussions with my brother, Preston. One of them got started because he asked me “So what, exactly, is theology?” Being a Biblical and Theological Studies major, I have an answer prepared for every time I am asked that question; it comes out automatically, almost like a reflex: Theology is the study of God; theos is the Greek route meaning “God,” and –ology is the suffix meaning “the study of.” When having a casual conversation with the average person, it is easy to leave it at this stock definition and move on, but I felt that my brother deserved something more in-depth.

When I first came to Nyack College I was also unsure as to exactly what theology is. What gave me the most helpful insight was the main text in my Introduction to Biblical and Theological Studies class, entitled Who Needs Theology, by Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson. This book posits that everyone is a theologian, even non-Christians…even Atheists! Theology is simply thinking and philosophizing about deity in general, whether that deity is the God of the Christians or some other deity. That means that even those who have decided against the existence of God are theologians, since they had to ponder and consider the divine in order to deny it! You may be surprised to hear this, but  you are a theologian, too.

Even after realizing this, you probably don’t feel like a theologian; I didn’t feel like one either when I first read this in the Grenz and Olson book. When most of us think of theology, we think of old men with their doctorates writing long, complicated books on topics that almost no one actually cares about. Many of us go as far as to think that theology is harmful to ministry because it confuses people with unnecessarily complex doctrine. The way that I view Christian theology, and the way I think that everyone should view it, is  the earnest search for better and more comprehensive understandings of God in order to more properly love and serve him.

Through my studies I have come to a realization that has helped me understand what I do as a Christian theologian and why it needs to be done. God is vast, infinite, and above human understanding. No matter how much humans ponder, study, and write, we will never have a complete understanding of who God is and how he works. Instead of using this as an excuse not to try to understand him, I see it as an invitation to continually increase my understanding of him, since there will always be more to learn. I feel closest to God when I am nose-deep in the Bible or a theological text.

Preston, I hope this helps.

Table for two

You go to college to learn and equip yourself for the work force however it is the people you meet and friends who quickly become family who make college such an unparalled experience.  Just living life beside these amazing people has greatly enhanced my life and taught me countless lessons. Giving people your time is one of the greatest gifts you could give a person whether you are studying for a Spanish test, making a late night run to Dunkin Donuts or going out for dinner. These are the places where you become more than a fellow student, but a friend through living intentionally with one another.

There is such an indescribable and deep bond you can form just by eating dinner with a friend on a regular basis and sharing in intentional conversation. God has put a lot of wonderful women in my life and once a week I sit down for dinner in the cafeteria with one girl who I have gotten very close to. We meet and talk about our day and our lives in general. It is something I look forward to all that day and throughout the week. Just to know that someone cares and wants to listen to your life is so valuable as you deal with some of the stresses that come along with college life. This relationship has been a huge blessing in my life as we make time outside of classes or dorm life to invest in a meaningful and encouraging friendship.

So coffee dates and dinners in the caf are such blessings, but it is also great when I get the chance to go off campus and have fun at one of the many amazing eateries in and around Nyack. This area of New York is so diverse and full of so many different opportunities to experience new foods and cultures or to just relax and cure the occasional home sickness with some comfort food. I have spent countless nights journeying late-night to Applebees for half price appetizers, spending hours in laughter and conversation. I have had my fair share of risky trips through the snow in order to secure cannolis and muffins from Rockland Bakery. And, I have spent many a day in downtown Nyack sharing a meal with a friend at one of the diverse restaurants in the community. When it comes down to it we are all students, but more than that we all desire community and sharing a meal is a great way to connect with people. God has blessed me with many wonderful and new people in my life and I love how there are so many unique ways to spend quality time with them as we grow together.


Love Jesus. Grow with Others. Serve the World.

Love Jesus. Grow with Others. Serve the World. These three phrases sum up my life in a whole. I picked up this mantra from my church back home in Northeast Ohio. I never fully understood how perfect it was until I started here at Nyack College in fall 2011. I was moving to a place where everything was unknown and scary. But, it didn’t take long for me to realize my purpose in this community. In college I have slowly been finding out more and more about myself. Through that experience I had to hold on tight to Jesus and trust that he was making me into a woman after his own heart. I have learned so much about God’s heart for me as I have been away at school. However, the best part is that I am not going through this college journey alone. The community of Nyack College and the many friends I have made are always around to support me as they grow alongside me. Whether we a worshipping our way through a Deeper Life series, praying our way through a Bible study, or crying alongside each other when we a facing trials, we stick together as a community of believers. There are so many people to meet and new friends to make. I quickly learned that if you open yourself up and reach out to people they will bring countless blessings into your life and truely enrich your time here at Nyack.

In addition we are serving the world around us as we reach out to the community of Nyack, the people of New York City, and the world. One of the things I love about this school is its location. You could walk down town and serve with organizations such as the Nyack Homeless project. You could catch the bus to New York City at any time and go interact with people from all over the world. Or you could even take a trip to another country on a Global Service Learning trip. This place is full of opportunity, and for me as an Inter-cultural studies major this is something I thrive off of. Nyack is not only equipping me for my future on the mission field, but opening the door for me to serve right now. It all boils down to the fact that Nyack is a place where I can love and grow deeper with Jesus, grow with the people around me, and serve the world in new and exciting ways.

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