Norma Martinez-Melo, Master of Arts in Transforming Spirituality
The Master of Arts in Transforming Spirituality (MATS) degree is Norma’s second educational experience with the School of Theology and Ministry. After completing the Certificate in Pastoral Leadership, Norma was left with a deep personal desire to learn more about the inner strength that the human spirit draws upon in times of profound trauma or grief. The Master of Arts in Transforming Spirituality balances the Christian tradition and the student’s specific faith tradition, with an openness to the wisdom of the world’s spiritual beliefs and practices. As a Catholic student, the MATS degree allowed Norma to study theology more in depth and pursue coursework that expanded her knowledge of other faith traditions and the practices that lead them to the Divine.
As a school support specialist for the United States Army, the skills Norma has developed in the MATS program have been instrumental in the way she now approaches her work in the Army. In an environment that necessitates specific procedural protocol, Norma identified a lack of “personal touch” or “spiritual sense.” She has been able to look at how they implement procedure and incorporate a more personal and compassionate way of doing business. She strives to provide each and every person who enters the doors with dignity, valuing their unique contribution to the community.
Norma has taken a variety of coursework that allowed her to expand her personal knowledge in more far reaching ways than she could have anticipated. The program has helped her to walk alongside those who have different faith practices from hers with a deeper respect and understanding of their faith walk.
Norma shares: “My studies in Transforming Spirituality have allowed me to see each human being as uniquely created and worthy of dignity, regardless of who they are or the things they have experienced in their life, and to respond with the compassion and dignity that every human being deserves.”
The diverse learning community at the School of Theology and Ministry has been essential to her transformation. She says: “There have been so many opportunities to expand how we see the world and other religions in a very safe and compassionate environment – where we all learned from each other, not just from the professors.”
She has made deep and lasting friendships, and she encourages other students to enter the program with an open mind—allowing themselves to learn from and about the students who are in class with them. Norma concludes: “My life is richer for my experience at Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry.”