It is the first night that Bob Jones University is running through its production of A Tale of Two Cities and Rachel Dahlhausen is playing a major character, the bitter and angry Madame Defarge. She is seeking to highlight the character’s emotions of bitterness and anger.
By the end of the rehearsal, she is utterly exhausted.
“It was insightful to me … I thought, some of my girls, this is how they feel all the time,” Dahlhausen said. “I’m exhausted after two and a half hours, but this is what their life is like.”
Dahlhausen is the head women’s counselor for the Student Care office, which provides voluntary biblical counseling as well as student support. The counseling is confidential unless a minor is involved or the counselee is a danger to themselves or others.
Dahlhausen never thought she would go into counseling. She studied music education at BJU for her undergrad degree because she wanted to utilize her gifts while helping others. “I knew I was gifted in music,” Dahlhausen said. “I knew I liked helping people and working with people.”
Prior to BJU
During Dahlhausen’s sophomore year, she had a rough time emotionally. “God really used that to humble me because I had a lot of pride about my own ability to push through,” Dahlhausen said. The experience pushed her in her faith and helped her learn to reach out for help when needed. She started taking a few counseling classes as a undergraduate and in graduate school to learn for herself and how to help others. The experience left her with a unique perspective.
“You can’t always explain everything, but you do have a God who understands and speaks to every single experience that a human being will face on this earth,” Dahlhausen said.
She went on to earn her master’s degree in vocal performance at BJU so she could be a better teacher. During graduate school, she worked as a dorm mentor and saw how much the supervisor had to love and meet people in their needs and how they had the opportunity to help. “Some students get stuck on the rules,” Dahlhausen said. “If you make those the emphasis, you miss the big picture of a place that loves God, that wants God’s word to be central to everything and that loves the students.”
After graduating, she taught music lessons for a studio in Greenville, but she didn’t feel like it was what she should do long term. After a year of teaching in Greenville, Dahlhausen had the opportunity to teach voice and music at a school in the Philippines. She ended up teaching at the school for two and a half years. While Dahlhausen enjoyed teaching and loves music, she realized that teaching music and voice was not her passion. Dahlhausen then worked in the Greenville administrative offices for The Wilds before BJU asked her to be a dorm supervisor.
Back to School
Whether she was a dorm mentor or a dorm supervisor, Dahlhausen has always loved working with college students. She considered several different areas to help people but felt like God was calling her toward counseling. She went back to school in her early 30s, and when she was about halfway through her degree, BJU asked her to be the head women’s counselor.
“I was convinced that getting a biblical counseling degree was going to give me the tools to help (people) spiritually,” Dahlhausen said. She had been praying about what she should do next, as she had been expecting to be married and have kids by then. “You might have a good plan, but it might not be what God’s plan is for you,” Dahlhausen said. She has been the head women’s counselor for four years.
Dahlhausen has been able to utilize her love for music through participation in several musicals and operas at BJU. She is also a part of Rivertree Singers, a community choir, and is involved in her church music program. She has been co-teaching a course on women’s counseling this semester and would like to help train church staff and members in biblical counseling in the future.