Donna Clayton is TBN Salsa Network Coordinator at Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), an international Christian television network. As a Latina and person of faith, Donna’s experience and education prepared her to help launch TBN Salsa in 2015. She is currently host of “Faith with Flavor,” which airs on TBN Salsa.
Dr. Andrea Ramirez, Executive Director of the Faith and Education Coalition-NHCLC, first met Donna as the “Raising the Standards” program debuted on TBN Salsa. Dr. Ramirez recently invited Donna to discuss education and the value of perseverance.
We first met at the Latin Leader Fest near Los Angeles. And, Donna, the joy you brought to your work was inspiring! You shared a few stories with me about your education journey and the perseverance that saw you through challenges. What were the greatest obstacles you had to overcome in order to earn your college degree?
I was the first in my family to earn a college degree. So it was a landmark day when I graduated from Vanguard University with a bachelor’s degree in communication and journalism. I encountered two significant obstacles on the road to graduating high school, then college.
The first was language. I grew up speaking only Spanish, so I began elementary school as an English learner. But I learned quickly and was not required to attend ESL classes after second grade. Today I am proud to be fluent in two languages
The second obstacle was money. My family was very poor, which became a looming hurdle as I considered attending college. In order to pay for my classes and living expenses, I worked nearly 30 hours a week while attending school full time. No one else in my family had gone this route before, so it was new to all of us. They supported me emotionally even when they could not help financially.
How did you decide to choose a Christian college, specifically Vanguard University?
At 19 years old, I was born again and dedicated my life to the Lord. Immediately my desires began to change, and I wanted all that God had for me. And for me, God’s plan included a Christian education to deepen my faith. I felt like a sponge -- eager to absorb everything that had to do with my Savior.
I appreciate first and foremost the opportunity I had to further my education. But I also appreciate the opportunity to attend a private Christian college, because everything I learned during my college years remains with me to this day. I cannot over-emphasize the valuable lessons I learned both spiritually and academically through my university education.
I learned that faith could be integrated into every area of education. One of my professors, during a health class, revealed how care for our physical bodies was a form of worship unto the Lord. He referenced 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 as we discussed the value of healthy food choices, and that lecture directly shaped health decisions I made as a young adult and continue to make today.
Vanguard University was an ideal fit for a student like me. Not only was a Christian campus, and near my hometown, but also invested deeply in first-generation and Hispanic students. I would recommend Vanguard to any Hispanic students considering college.
What other academic advice do you have for Hispanic parents and students?
God wants his children to love him with all their hearts, minds and souls. So we need to prepare our minds to effectively serve him and others in this world. I encourage every Christian young person to ask God for a vision for his or her future. That vision will help them discern God’s will for their educational path, whether it be college, technical training, or seminary.