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A Passion For People

Amy Goodberlet shares her story about following God’s promptings and learning to trust Him in all facets of her life.

Photo by Michael Klussman

Amy Goodberlet, director of the Academic Success Center at Missouri Baptist University, has a heart for the Lord and a heart for His children who He brings across her path each day.

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In a cubicle office to the side of the room, Amy Goodberlet sits at her desk answering one of the hundreds of emails she gets every day. As director of the Academic Success Center, Goodberlet has her hands involved in a lot of different areas.

Goodberlet manages the entire ASC, which includes all the tutoring services, the writing lab, special needs and study skills development resources, all assessment and testing, study halls for the athletic department and all advising for freshman and transfer students.

“We basically work with every new student to make sure they have the resources that they need and that they have acclimated well to college life and that if there are gaps in their education, we can fill those,” Goodberlet said.

With everything she is involved with, Goodberlet’s day is usually full of tasks to accomplish.

“The hardest part of my job is not having enough time in the day to accomplish what I feel like I should,” Goodberlet said.

While Goodberlet has a passion for her work, she spent several years of her professional life in the communications field.

“My whole life, when I was a kid, I loved writing. I always thought about doing journalism and writing was pretty easy for me. But my Dad was an engineer and math was like second nature for me. So my whole high school career, my Dad was wanting me to go to engineering school,” Goodberlet recalled. “So I went and looked at a couple schools. My counselor at the time was very much encouraging me to do either engineering or finance, but coupled with the journalism and the writing, I always wanted to teach. No one really encouraged me to do that. Honestly, no one.”

So Goodberlet graduated from Northwest High School in Cedar Hill, Missouri, and enrolled in college at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, with a plan to major in business as she “didn’t want any part of engineering.”

Goodberlet earned a bachelor’s degree in communication theory and rhetoric and began working in marketing and advertising at Herman Marketing, the largest advertising specialty company in the world, which used to be based in St. Louis.

“I loved it, it was creative, I got to write copy, so I was able to use my writing skills, but I also wrote marketing plans and things like that. So I got to use my analytical skills and it was great,” Goodberlet said. “But it was not very conducive to having a family and it wasn’t very fulfilling to be honest. It was a great job and I met a lot of great people, I traveled all over, but the marketing and advertising, there was an emptiness.”

Her heart yearned to go back into the education field.

“So my husband encouraged me to go back to school, I went back to school, started teaching to get my education degree and my certification all at one time,” Goodberlet said.

After getting her master’s of education with a focus in reading specialty, certified elementary, middle school math and English from Fontbonne University, Goodberlet found a job working at Life Christian School, a private Christian school in St. Louis, where she taught two years and was then appointed to be the principal of the K-12 school.

“So I did that for a while and that was really my niche,” Goodberlet said.

It was during her time at Life Christian School that Goodberlet felt she was doing what God called her to do.

“I’ve only had two positions in all my years working, only two positions that I felt the Lord had appointed me or put me in. The first one was the principal position and the second one was this position (at MBU), to be honest,” Goodberlet said.

But when Life Christian School lost one of its main financial contributors, Goodberlet had to painfully lay off 22 teachers and ultimately the high school was forced to close, which led her back into the corporate world.

After finding a job at Monsanto working as director of the global company’s dairy division, Goodberlet had a yearning to go back into education.

“I missed teaching so bad, I just missed the education so bad, so I took a position at another private Christian school that was really really low pay and right after I took that position, another position opened up here that was part-time,” Goodberlet said. “I started working here part-time and then was just quickly promoted to where I am today.”

Goodberlet enjoys leading the Academic Success Center at MBU and helping students succeed.

“I like, first of all, that I can use the Word of God and I can use my faith to impact lives. Whether it’s my staff, other people, my colleagues, my peers on campus or if it’s students, if someone is going through something that I can pray with them without fear of any sort of retaliation — and encouragement comes through the word — I would say that’s the best thing about it,” Goodberlet said. “The other thing is that I’ve been allowed some freedom to really work toward goals for student success and I appreciate that.”

Goodberlet finds helping students academically to be the most rewarding part of her job.

“The most rewarding part, I guess, is really when a student either understands, like gets it, or when a student overcomes some challenge,” Goodberlet said.

And with an average of 900 students utilizing the Academic Success Center during any given school year, she has countless stories of students overcoming personal challenges.

“I had a student a couple weeks ago, I’m working, he comes in and says, ‘Is this where I go if I’m in crisis?’ And I said sure. He came in and we sat down and he was going through a lot of different things and it was really just hard for him to manage,” Goodberlet said. “So we kind of went through, walked through some of the details of what he was struggling with and I gave him a list of things, three things to work on over the weekend. I said, ‘Come back to me on Monday and let’s see what you’ve accomplished.’”

And this simple conversation set a positive process in motion.

“So we sort of baby-stepped our way to a solution, but toward the end of that next week, he came in and said that several of the things he was really concerned about, that he felt he had worked through, he had a much more positive outlook and things like that. Now all I did was listen to him and help him re-group,” Goodberlet said.

While she often helps students navigate the many challenges of college, the academic side of the Academic Success Center is certainly her primary focus, with all her tasks being Christ-centered.

“Another rewarding thing is when you see God work in a student’s behalf. We have a student here who came and he was very much underprepared. From day one last semester he was constantly in my face wanting to know what he could do and needed to do. He had many disadvantages and things that could hold him back. But he had such desire, he really did. He had such desire to learn and to do well at everything. And he would come in, literally, every day. And sometimes it was just to tell me, ‘Mrs. G, I love you,’ or, ‘Mrs. G, how are you doing today?’ And other days we had to talk through some tough things, but he ended up with a 3.7 (GPA) after the fall semester. And he earned every single part of that. But for me the most rewarding thing is seeing that kind of stuff.”

In addition, Goodberlet enjoys working with fellow staff members of the ASC and challenging them to do their best.

“She also loves to push you beyond what you believe you are capable of handling,” Erik Gustafson, data coordinator and student success advisor for the Academic Success Center, said in an email. “She loves to improve her staff every chance she gets.”

While Goodberlet has seen God work in the lives of students and her staff, she has also seen God work in her own life through several challenges and struggles she has faced.

“One of the challenges I’ve probably faced, this is early on when I was middle school, high school, that kind of thing, I was always trying to people please to the point of having that type A personality,” Goodberlet reflected. “I was the student that always asked for extra credit even though I didn’t need extra credit. So I think early on that was one of my greater challenges, that not being able to be comfortable with myself, that can be a challenge.”

“Another challenge is that I wish that I had gone with my gut, which I believe was the prompting of the Holy Spirit … to go into education at 20 rather than my early 30s, but then again I look back on that and I think, ‘Well, maybe I wouldn’t have been as effective of an instructor or educator had I done it early. God has a way of orchestrating things in His time.”

Goodberlet continued: “Another challenge is that I used to have anxiety and panic attacks. Praise God I don’t have them anymore, but I went through a season of that in my life and I didn’t want to tell anyone because I was embarrassed or whatever. But what it’s done is change my perspective on other people who are challenged with that. It’s almost sort of catapulted me into being very determined in whatever I feel like the Lord is leading me to.”

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About Me

Name: Amy Goodberlet
Job title at MBU: Director of Academic Success at Missouri Baptist University
Job duties at MBU: Supervise professional staff and student workers in the Academic Success Center, help manage the first year advising program, assist with retention efforts and data analysis, work diligently for student success efforts and teach mathematics.
Year arrived to MBU: 2011
College(s): Fontbonne University (Master’s in Education, class of 2005)
University of Missouri-St. Louis (Bachelor’s in Communication Theory and Rhetoric, class of 1993)
High School: Northwest High School Cedar Hill, Missouri
Family: Michael Goodberlet (Husband), Molly Muñoz (Daughter), Kate Goodberlet (Daughter)

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Dealing with the anxiety and panic attacks taught Goodberlet more about herself and God’s plans for her life.

“Right about the time I went through that anxiety stuff, I realized that I’m not going to be good at everything, I’m not going to be the best at all the things that I want to do. But the things that God has put a desire in my heart for, I’m going for it,” Goodberlet said.

While Goodberlet has been through a lot, there was one challenge she encountered which was out of her league.

“My dad was one of those types of Christians where he was OK with God when he needed God and if he didn’t need Him, he was good on his own. My dad was very intelligent, my dad made a lot of money. I had been praying for my dad’s salvation my whole adult life,” said Goodberlet. “My dad was very selective who he let into his world. He was very ill and it was when I was a principal and the doctors said, ‘There’s pretty much nothing more that we can do.’ So again, I had seen where he had made some improvements in his walk with the Lord, but I wasn’t sure.”

Goodberlet began to pray for God to send someone into her father’s life to show him that God is real and he should turn to Him.

“Three days before he passed away, my husband and my daughters and I got out to Arizona. I got in the elevator in this rehab place and this young man got in the elevator and he asked me who I was going to see. I told him and he said, ‘Oh my gosh, Bill and I have the greatest conversations about the Lord,’” said Goodberlet. “I said, ‘That can’t be my dad, it really must be someone else.’ He said, ‘No really, we have the best discussions.’”

When Goodberlet walked into her father’s room at the rehab facility, she immediately saw how God had been working in his life.

“It was like oh my gosh, I had prayed for something for 20 years for God to send someone; at the eleventh hour, at that last moment,” said Goodberlet. “What that taught me is that there is hope for every person and sometimes you’ve got to step outside yourself and go it’s not going to be through me.”

Goodberlet credits her faith in God as the reason she has been able to endure these challenges and struggles.

Having grown up as a Christian, Goodberlet does not “have one of those fantastic testimonies.”

“So I grew up in church, grew up in a Christian home, we had some challenges. You know I didn’t have the best family I suppose. But it was in my early years, early 20s I suppose, was when I really started understanding the Lord and His place in my life,” said Goodberlet. “And you know when Jesus says to His disciples, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ And he asks three times and he basically says, ‘No, who do you say I am?’ Like at some point in my 20s I was like, ‘Oh, who is Jesus to me?’”

But Goodberlet continued to grow in her faith and in pursuing a relationship with God.

“So my faith life now is, I know I am utterly dependent on the Lord for everything. He gets the good and the glory for everything that’s good in my life. He has answered so many prayers, He has been so faithful to me,” said Goodberlet. “He has been so gracious and there have even been times where it looked like everything was in such a mess or there was despair, God has always come through.”

Faith is an important part of Goodberlet’s life. She continually trusts God and thanks Him for everything He has done in her life.

“I’m also really thankful for how God has shown me so much of Himself in my children and in my husband. There are times when they do something or say something and I’m so proud of that accomplishment for them,” said Goodberlet. “And I’m reminded that they’re really God’s kids first. Or even with my husband, how God’s really blessed me through him. I just want to be grateful.”

Goodberlet’s faith has even influenced the students and staff in the Academic Success Center.

“Mrs. Goodberlet is probably one of the finest examples of Christianity on this campus. Her devotion to the Lord and her genuine understanding of His great love for us guides all of her interactions,” Judy Ellison, MSW, LCSW and student success advisor in the Academic Success Center, said in an email. “While she clearly leads, she also inspires partnership within the ASC by listening and incorporating our ideas and plans. She never fails to teach, lead and manage, remembering the grace of God and giving Him all the glory.  She is truly a servant leader.”

Because of her position at MBU and her experience helping students, Goodberlet offers this piece of advice for college students.

“First of all, really think through and really, hopefully if you’re a Christian you’re going to talk to the Lord about it, but hopefully think through and work with somebody to help you have goals, attainable goals. Look for the prize, don’t just come to school this semester and think, ‘I’m only coming for a semester.’” Goodberlet said. “Have a goal of finishing and walking across that stage and getting that diploma and then walking out into the world and doing whatever God has called you to do. And if there are students who aren’t believers who aren’t asking God for direction, then seek some sound counsel to help you make some concrete plans early.”

But Goodberlet assures students about one common concern.

“But along with that, it’s OK to not know everything. It’s OK not to be perfect. It’s OK to not have it all figured out at 18 or 19 or 20. It’s OK to change your mind and it’s OK to do what you think you’re supposed to do with your life.”

“The other advice is to really get plugged in at college. Don’t just come, go to class and go home. Find your niche. Find something that you can get involved in.”

Overall, Goodberlet stresses how all of us should seek help during hard times.

“When you are struggling with something, no matter what it is, seek help. It’s OK to miss home, I tell young men this all the time. We have this idea that only girls are supposed to be homesick. You know what? It’s OK if a young man just really misses mom and dad. It’s OK to go through those struggles, but please make sure you are communicating with somebody that will encourage you and support you and help you walk through it.”

Through her work at the ASC, Goodberlet has become known for her wisdom and willingness to help others.

“When it comes to wisdom, she is one of the wisest women I know. Her ability to think quickly and calmly through a tough situation and come up with a solution amazes me every time,” Kerri Hayes, testing proctor at the Academic Success Center, said in an email. “She is great with people. I love to watch her meet new students. Her favorite question is, ‘What’s your story?’ They are always taken aback by that, but the way they open up to her like a flower to the sunshine is simply astounding to see. You can see her love for people, in general, in everything that she does.”

Clearly, Goodberlet has a passion for her work and for helping people.

“I always want to continue searching for new ways to help students develop solid plans for their lives and get through whatever challenges there are to reach those goals and those plans,” said Goodberlet.

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Michael Klussman

Michael Klussman

Michael Klussman is a public relations major from Manchester, Missouri, and plans to pursue a career in the communication field after graduating. In his free time, Michael enjoys volunteering at his church and exploring the St. Louis area.

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