Rhonda Christensen

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I am a researcher and educator in the field of learning technologies. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be an educator.

As we were growing up, my younger sister was often the pupil while I was the teacher. I love to learn new things and I think that love of learning was the reason I kept going to school – for 21 years! I have been intrigued by technology since middle school when I was in the projector club followed by working in a computer store in college. I was happy when I was able to merge those two interests – education and technology.

I grew up in a small town in central Texas. I am blessed because I was born to hard-working, honest, kind parents who expected the same from their children. Through their actions, they taught me that we are not here to serve ourselves; we gain much more by serving others. They also modeled their faith in Christ by how they lived each day, and I too put my faith in Christ.

My faith was never more important than on November 20, 2007, two days before Thanksgiving, when I heard the words,
“You have leukemia.”

I was shocked! But I was not afraid for myself because I knew I would spend eternity in Heaven.The most difficult part was telling our boys, a 7th grader and a college freshman at the time.

It was a difficult journey but I kept faithfully praying and asking God to get me through each day and to provide comfort for my family members. I started the standard treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia but my body was not generating its own red and white blood cells or platelets. My platelets were at 0! At one point I was in ICU for 7 days for an infection coming from not having any white blood cells to fight off infection.

Even when I was on oxygen, I cried out to God for mercy to get through each breath. The verse I recited over and over for comfort and peace is Hebrews 4:16 —
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Reciting that verse gave me a supernatural feeling of peace and comfort. I was constantly amazed at the provisions and blessings that I received – that is what got us through the treatments and then eventually the stem cell transplant. Because my body was not producing enough new blood cells, I could no longer receive chemotherapy as a treatment. My only option was a stem cell or bone marrow transplant. My sister and brother were tested but neither matched. Our only hope was the gift from a generous stranger.

God provided the gift of stem cells from a total stranger who we now consider part of our family. The Be the Match personnel searched through the National Donor Marrow Registry and fortunately found someone who matched my DNA. It was almost like finding a needle in a haystack to find a match. To expect a total stranger to be so selfless and giving to someone they may never see or know was another amazing feat. But I was fortunate and I try to pay it forward by helping get more college-aged students to join the registry.

After my transplant, I did meet my “match.” She is a wonderful young lady from California. In another amazing part of God’s plan, she now works for Be the Match promoting and managing the effort to have marrow registry drives on college campuses across the US. Not only have I lived to see my older son get married and my younger son go off to college, I was blessed to see my precious donor get married as well.

I feel I have been given more time on earth to spend with my family but I also feel like my work on earth was not complete yet either. I strive to live a life of gratitude and service to others. Sometimes a busy life gets in the way and I almost forget how amazing it is to be alive. It takes a conscious effort to focus on others more than myself but I feel that is what I am called to do. I am not the person I should be but that is the beauty of God’s grace and mercy. We don’t always get what we deserve and for that I am grateful.

Sometimes things in our lives can appear to be hopeless but that is when we become desperately dependent on God to get us through. He does more than “get us through” – He teaches us valuable lessons, if we are willing to listen.

My life

  • Friends describe me
    as friendly, loyal, reliable, kind, helpful, funny.
  • Hobbies
    traveling, reading, music, exercising, water skiing, watching my favorite sports teams
  • Fantasy dinner guests
    George & Laura Bush, George Strait and Moses
  • In college I drove
    a Mercury Cougar
  • Worst school subject
    Fortran
  • College for undergrad degree
    Texas A&M University
  • Best advice I ever got
    “God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called.”
  • Favorite books
    The Help, Harry Potter books, The Tipping Point.
  • Favorite movies
    The Blind Side, You've Got Mail, The Proposal, Notting Hill, Sleepless in Seattle, Big.
  • Favorite city
    Washington DC
  • Favorite coffee
    Starbuck's
  • Nobody knows I
    have always wanted to perform in a musical.
  • If I were not a professor, I would
    be a K-12 classroom teacher or school administrator.
  • Latest accomplishment
    Finishing our taxes!
  • Current research
    Technology integration, STEM integration, digital fabrication, hands-on active learning with technology, augmented reality on mobile devices.
  • Quote

    Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters... It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

University
University of North Texas
State
Texas
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