Meet Andrea Helmuth, Bethel’s New Director of Admission
Andrea Helmuth (’95) “bleeds Bethel blue.” She began working at Bethel following graduation – first as admissions coordinator, then as assistant director and finally as director in 1999. In 2003, she relocated to Biola University, where she’s spent the past nine years serving as the associate director of admission.
I recently spent some time getting to know Helmuth – talking about everything from how she got her first admission job, to how she avoided going to college by moving to Canada following high school. Helmuth brings a fresh perspective, quick wit and loads of experience back to Bethel. It’s no wonder we’re so excited to have her back as director of admission.
LD: Let’s start with how your career at Bethel began. I hear there’s a story about how you first got hired on as an admission counselor.
AH: About a month before graduation I had an interview at Hannah’s House in Mishawaka. As a social science major, my goal was to work in a group home-type setting and eventually go on to get my master’s degree in social work. Just prior to the interview, I was told about an opening in the admission office, but I really wasn’t interested. Dr. Bridges, who was president of Bethel at the time, called the director to put in a recommendation for me. I didn’t think that Dr. Bridges really knew who I was, so his recommendation was a little surprising. God kept putting Bethel on my heart and I knew I needed to apply for the admission position. I thought to myself, “If I take the job, you’re only getting two years out of me, I want to do ministry!” I was offered both jobs, but chose Bethel. Here it is, 17 years later and I’m still loving the work I do in admissions. And, boy was I surprised to learn that this job is all about ministry.
LD: You were quite young when you became the director of admission at Bethel for the first time. How did you advance to that position and what did you learn from it?
AH: I was rather young and am still uncertain as to why Dr. Bridges, Dr. Cramer and Steve Matteson had such faith in me – they always had more faith in me than I had in myself. I served as an admission counselor for two years, then as an assistant director for just over two years, before becoming the director of admission. It was very overwhelming and I felt very inadequate most of the time. I’m very grateful for God’s grace and mercy in my first years of leadership. During that time, I made many mistakes and learned a lot about being humble. God showed me that I had the capacity to do much more than I thought was possible and that I must learn to face each task with His strength and not my own.
LD: What made you decide to make the move to Biola?
AH: During those first years as director of admission, I served on the Becoming An Admissions Professional training team with our national admission organization NACCAP (North American Coalition for Christian Admissions Professionals), along with André Stephens, the director of admissions at Biola University. In the summer of 2003, while attending our national admissions conference, André approached me about a position in the admissions office at Biola. God had been stirring in my heart that a time of change was on the horizon for me and after speaking with André, I had a suspicion that I would soon be moving to La Mirada, Cal. After visiting Biola’s campus, I realized that God was providing an opportunity for me to be trained by two of the most well respected individuals in the profession of Christian college admissions: Greg Vaughan, vice president of enrollment management and André Stephens, senior director of undergraduate admissions. I have no doubt that God moved me to Biola to better equip me to serve in Christian higher education.
LD: What has your experience at Biola taught you and how will that impact your approach to leadership at Bethel?
AH: I’ve learned a ton at Biola and it would take a book for me to communicate the extent to which Biola has impacted my life. Whether attending an on-campus seminar with leadership experts, listening to nationally-known speakers in a chapel service, participating in an HR workshop on how to manage people, meeting one-on-one with my supervisor on a regular basis or engaging in conversation regarding culture and ethnicity at Biola’s Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation, I have been blessed by the numerous opportunities Biola has afforded me in my growth and development, both on a personal and professional level.
LD: How do you think things might be different this time around? What has changed since you left and what changes do you hope to see as the new director of admission?
AH: When I was the director at Bethel the first time, I only had four years of admission experience. I didn’t know a whole lot. Biola has trained me, and I’m now coming back with 17 years of admission experience. In my first week in the director position, each team member is scheduling a one-on-one appointment with me. I recognize that over the last nine years Bethel has changed and I’ve changed. In the first weeks, I want to figure out where Bethel is now. I have some ideas in my head, but I’m not going to jump on them unless I know they’re going to be a good fit for the campus and the office. I need to assess what will work here.
LD: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
AH: I like to read; I enjoy being with family and friends and I love watching sports, especially Notre Dame football. I’m not the kind of person who follows all the players, but I do arrange my Saturdays so I can see the games. I’m also looking forward to having a yard again. I love gardening.
LD: What is an interesting fact about yourself that you’d like to share?
AH: I lived in Canada for a while out of high school because I didn’t want to go to college. My parents made a deal with me that I had to go for one semester and then I could drop out. So, I went to IUSB for one semester. Family friends of ours lived in Northern Alberta in Ft. McMurray. It was freezing cold. I lived with them and volunteered at a one-room school and in a home for juvenile delinquents. God worked on my heart and when I went home, I went back to IUSB, and then transferred to Bethel. I was at Bethel from my sophomore year to graduation, in 1995. It’s just so ironic that here I am, not even wanting to go to college, and now my life’s work is working in admissions and getting people to come to college.