2016 Maria Gaudin
Community Kitchen Leader • Vancouver, BC, Canada
On Campus 2011–2016 ∙ MATS ’16
Originally from Prince Edward Island, I’ve now spent about ten years in Vancouver, finding various ways to live out my love for theology, art, cooking, and serving marginalized communities. I live with my husband, Will, and our one-year-old daughter, Rhea.
How Regent made a difference:
Regent taught me that God is bigger than the struggles I face—which are vastly different from what I experienced as a Regent student, focusing now on work and motherhood, which is something I never expected for myself. Because I’ve had that foundation of learning to trust God, I’m able to be more calm and less anxious when I face issues. The things I learned at Regent remind me to think of the bigger picture, to remember that God is in control and has a plan not only for my life, but also for the lives of those around me, and for the whole of creation.
More From Maria
How I got to Regent:
I came out to Vancouver in 2009 as an InterVarsity intern and was introduced to Regent by a roommate who was doing her Diploma. I loved sitting in her room and listening to her talk about her courses. She was doing a lot of personal growth, and it was interesting to hear her talk about learning things about the Bible and faith she’d never had the opportunity to dive into before.
Toward the end of my internship, I had to decide whether to pursue a full-time career in campus ministry. While I was trying to decide, I met with my undergrad printmaking professor, who had a gallery show at Regent. He made what he called a “strong plea” for me to go to Regent—which is to say, he threatened to submit an application for me if I didn’t do it myself. He thought it would be a really good place for a newer Christian and aspiring artist—a community that would be affirming and confirming of that vocation.
So, I started making inquiries, met with a Regent alumna, toured the College, and met with Ali Cumming, Regent’s Arts Administrator. I was still on the fence, but after another visit with my former prof I decided to apply—not expecting to get in. I didn’t think I was smart enough for Regent. When I did get in, I was shocked, and didn’t think I was going to accept. I moved back to Prince Edward Island for a year and a half before coming back to Vancouver. During that time, I took a few courses on Catholic theology at a local college. That piqued my interest and made me feel more ready to go back to school. I started at Regent in 2011.
Most important lesson:
To trust God in every circumstance. Studying at Regent forced me to learn to trust God in so many ways. It started with trusting God that I was actually meant to be there—that I was smart enough for Regent and that God would get me through academically, financially, and emotionally.
About two weeks before coming to Regent, I went to a church service with a friend in PEI. We’d been talking about prophecy and how you could know it was true. During the service, I felt that God was asking me to speak up and be prayed for. The leader prophesied that I would receive financial resources I didn’t expect. A couple years into my time at Regent, my grandfather began paying my way. The leader also asked if I painted—not knowing that I’d studied art. He said he saw God using me to reach people through art. A year to the day later, I started painting again after an eight-year hiatus.
I found many reasons to trust God and his word, and his calling me to study. At Regent, I experienced what felt like many more prophetic moments through prayer with various people, time with the Arts Soup Group, and Ali Cumming’s insight. These experiences really confirmed for me that God was involved in my life and could be trusted.
Life after Regent:
Since graduating from Regent I’ve gotten married, had a baby girl, and watched my passion for good food take an unexpected professional turn. I currently work for Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, where my official title is Community Drop-In Co-ordinator and Manager of Operations. I lead all the house’s food programs that pertain to the larger community. This involves hosting breakfasts and lunches at the house and doing nutritional outreach to the wider neighbourhood during the most vulnerable week of the month. We’re a small non-profit whose main goal is advancing the right to food in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, especially by providing healthy, organic alternatives in a family-like community environment.
Aspect of my life that would have surprised me as a student:
That I’m a mom! I also didn’t know that all the chances I had to work with food at Regent College would lead to the career I now have.
Why I support Regent today:
Regent played such an important role in my life that I can’t imagine donating my money to any other school. I don’t even donate to my undergrad university, because I feel that Regent is much more unique to the needs of Christians in its openness to allowing us to discover God through academics, personal growth, community, and the arts. It’s especially important for artists to have a place to go and to learn and be supported in that setting. There aren’t many places like that in North America.
Regent has something unique to offer the Christian community, and while I didn’t personally need financial assistance to get there, a lot of people do. I want to give in order to help other people get there and be transformed by God.
Regent in three words:
Best Regent memories:
One of the best parts of my Regent experience was the culmination of my IPIAT (Integrated Project in Art and Theology), which was also my first gallery show. The project was focused on the theology of death and grief, using imagery of decay and new life in the forest. I’d worked on the project for five years, and it was amazing to be able to present a show that represented not only my creative output but also my own healing journey. To be able to share that with the community, and hopefully inspire them to share their own grief with others and to seek healing and peace—that tops the list for me.
There was also a lighter side to my IPIAT experience. Who gets to go out and run around the woods for their thesis project? I mean, really, what could be a better grad school experience than roaming through a forest, looking for wood to use in your art? When it was finally time to haul some of that wood up to Regent’s gallery for my show, multiple people told me I looked like a lumberjack—or a beaver.
Finally, my memories of the first and last chapels of each year at Regent really resonate with me. Putting myself back into that community and hearing the voices sing the Doxology, I feel linked back through that experience of the collective worship of God.
Funniest Regent memory:
I worked in Regent’s gallery as a student employee for several years. During my first year, I managed to drop a hammer on my head. There weren’t many people in the building, and when Iwan Russell-Jones rushed in to check on me, he found me with a head injury. In his very British way, he asked if I needed some tea—or brandy. (I was picturing a rescue dog coming to the first aid room with a barrel around its neck!) He went running off to find help, but the person he found didn’t really know what to do either. I eventually just took myself to the hospital to get checked out. I was fine!
Theology of Suffering with Edwin Hui. A close second was an Arts and Theology course with Jeremy Begbie.
Favourite place to study:
The middle tables in the library—far enough back not to be distracted, but around enough people to avoid being overtaken by anxiety. I learned during my first year that isolation was not a good thing when it came to studying!
Not too long ago, I came across something I’d written about the library and posted on Facebook in February 2016. Here’s what I wrote at that time:
Today I was reminded twice of God’s unconditional love, but the second was most profound. After being reminded to look for God’s love everywhere, I walked back into the library and looked at all the books that surrounded me. I then realized that they are not mere compositions on paper, but are the very lives of people who love(d) God deeply enough to contemplate Him and His wonders deeply. The lives of those who are living on through printed word are gifting us not only with the knowledge of God, but also with His love through their testimony, intelligence, imagination, and creativity.
I continue to stand by that!
Favourite things about Vancouver:
All the food. Just…all the food.
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