From Groundsman to History Educator

Cheney smiles at the camera

After deciding to attend Dordt, Cheney Vander Berg chose to major in history and education. He picked these majors in part because he loves stories; he says that stories are the “pieces of worldview that directly affect our actions.”

“I have a passion for history and for teaching image-bearers, but my passions are informed by our embodied reality as Christians,” he says.

He’s especially grateful for the excellent professors he’s had during his time at Dordt.

“One day, I hope to teach history and build relationships with those whom God places in my path,” he says. “More than teach, I hope to point to Christ regardless of the job I have or title I enjoy.”

One title he’s held during his four years at Dordt is “grounds-man.” Cheney has spent the last four summers working on Dordt’s campus as part of the grounds team.

“There’s something about completing demanding tasks in the dead of winter or the brutal heat of the summer that creates a bond unlike anything I’ve experienced in the classroom,” he says. “Personally, I have enjoyed learning and working in the networks that keep Dordt running smoothly.”

He’s learned to weld and how to hook up and use different equipment safely. He’s expanded his knowledge of landscape maintenance as well as design.

“Grounds, more than any other experience I’ve had at Dordt, has fostered the belief in the necessity of well-rounded leadership,” he says. “I am thankful that I know by name the people responsible for the daily functions of the university. I’ve learned that grounds work is often a thankless job, but it’s an important one.”

Looking back at his four years at Dordt, Cheney can see how varied his experiences have been.

“I have friendships that will last a lifetime. I have traveled to Europe and sung in places with beauty hard to imagine. I have also cleaned sludge from drains on campus and laid over a mile of grass sod down the campus greenway. I have power-washed brick and had scholarship dinners with very generous donors.”

Dordt has given him opportunities to see the world and experience creation in new ways every day, “while keeping me humble enough to stoop down and pick up a piece of trash caught in the grass,” he quips.

Christian education is a sacrifice, says Cheney, but it’s one that he is very thankful for.

“My family has had multiple generations of commitment to Christian education, often at the expense of other luxuries,” says Cheney. “Choosing to pay for college and the experience that Dordt provides has been a large step in continuing that faith commitment, hoping to benefit and give back to what Christian education has always been about. It was never a very tough decision for me.”