For This 2011 Graduate, It’s Personal:  How Covenant Prepared Her for Life

by FRANKLIN NORTON

When it was time for Karla do Vale to enter into the workforce after college, she was looking for the kind of working environment that was familiar to her. She reflected on her time at Covenant School, remembering a place where professional relationships were also caring and personal.

“How many senior class trips get chaperoned by the first-grade teacher,” do Vale questioned. “That’s just what Covenant was. It showed me what kind of company to work for.”

She longed for an organization grounded in mentorship and relationships, values she has kept since her time at Covenant. After graduating with her degree in Psychology from Calvin College, she found what she was looking for at Sunrise Senior Living, a senior living network that offers independent living, assisted living, memory care, nursing and rehabilitative services in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“That balance between professional relationships and mentorship and caring I saw at Covenant— being able to translate that to my work now has been really helpful and enriching for me,” do Vale said.

Karla do Vale, formerly Karla Nyhuis, graduated from Covenant in 2011 before attending Calvin University, then Calvin College, in Grand Rapids, MI. She decided to make the move to Grand Rapids in an effort to forge her own path and gain independence while attending a smaller, Christian liberal arts school, much like Covenant.

“It was a manageable step into the real world,” do Vale explained. “It was a Christian school, but there’s a lot of differences in belief. It was challenging for me because I had to make my faith my own, but Covenant taught me how to figure that out. I knew how to find what I believe and dissect it and talk about it well, and to stand firm in it.”

While at Calvin, she studied Psychology and also met her husband, Fellipe do Vale. When her husband was accepted into Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, the couple moved to Illinois, where she first began her career at Sunrise Senior Living. Now, the couple lives in Plano, TX, where Fellipe is working toward his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Southern Methodist University, and Karla works as the Associate Director of Sales for Sunrise Senior Living in Plano.

Having worked in multiple different roles for her organization, do Vale has experienced just how well Covenant prepared her for any professional challenge, whether it be in college or the workforce, specifically in areas of writing and logic.

“I took a certification for my work recently, and one of the steps was writing a ten-page paper,” do Vale said, claiming that for many of her colleagues this was a challenge that caused great stress. “I never expected those kinds of things to come up in my professional work. I’m still using them—my teachers were right!”

Aside from college and career readiness, do Vale believes Covenant prepared her to live life well. Her time at Covenant taught her how to acquire and maintain positive Christian friendships, what Christian mentorship looks like, and also how to use her talents and abilities to help others around her.

To the Covenant class of 2020, do Vale has one thing to say: “Be excited for all the things that you have ahead of you. There are just so many wonderful and exciting things in your future, and you’re ready for them. Covenant has prepared you.”

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