Photo caption: Rhonda Tomenko. Photo credit: Saint Mary's College
Rhonda was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, and lived there until attending the Adventist academy in Norway. She earned two bachelor’s degrees at Andrews University — a B.S. in Speech-Pathology & Audiology and a B.A. in Music.
After completing her Ph.D. in audiology from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Vir., she did a postdoctoral year at the University of Michigan, then worked as a clinical audiologist in South Bend, Ind., for four years. She transitioned to academics, teaching for 10 years at Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, Ind., then worked again in the clinical setting, this time in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Michigan and Indiana. It was at this point that Andrews reached out to her regarding a faculty position in their School of Communication Sciences & Disorders.
“I loved the clinical work I was doing and appreciated having my evenings and weekends to spend with my husband and three young children,” she says. “Going back into academia meant that my job would not be done at the end of the workday. There is a lot of preparation for classes, grading and research that fill one’s evenings and weekends. However, I felt that if God were leading me to Andrews I would definitely consider and pray about this position. I have always loved Andrews University and felt that it would be an honor to serve God on this campus.”
At Andrews, Rhonda now teaches audiology courses in the undergraduate program as well as the clinical practicum in audiology. She also teaches one course in the speech-language pathology graduate program.
She says, “I have enjoyed so many things. I love being in the classroom interacting with students again. My favorite course to teach is our clinical practicum course; I love seeing how students pull together the knowledge and skills they have gained in their courses and finally get to interact with clients in our clinic. I also love the group of faculty and staff in our department. It is an honor to work with such an incredibly talented and caring group of people.”
For Rhonda, true education means more than pursuing a certain course of study. Instead, it has to do with the whole being — developing physically, mentally and spiritually. She has appreciated the idea from Ellen G. White’s book Education that the highest aim of education is training individuals for service. She especially wants students to realize that, having been created in the image of God, they have the power to think, to do and to influence character.
“I believe that one cannot truly serve God and man in the best way without having a relationship with God, which in turn allows God’s spirit to restore in us the image of God in which we were created,” says Rhonda. “My hope is to turn the minds of our students to God so that their knowledge, skills and education will enable them to serve God and man to the best of their abilities.”
Gillian Panigot, Communication manager and FOCUS editor