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For Chelsea Hardy ’17, her Asbury University education was truly a gift from God. The road to Asbury was long and winding but the journey was well worth it for Hardy, who graduated with a Master of Arts in Communication & Digital Storytelling last May.

Hardy ended up at Asbury by way of Kentucky State University, where she completed her undergraduate degree in Liberal Studies, served in the Kentucky National Guard, won Miss Kentucky State University and later, began an MBA program.

Shortly after starting the MBA program, the Indianapolis native fell into a depression and turned to film to combat her disinterest in her studies.

“I was completely bored out of my mind,” Hardy said. “I was miserable. I would go home and cry. I would use movies to cope with the sadness that I was going through with that degree.”  

Hardy heard about the Master of Arts in Communication & Digital Storytelling program at Asbury from a friend.

“I really liked that it was a film program,” Hardy said. “I thought that I should study that since I was using film to get rid of my depression from my other program.” 

Since completing the Communication & Digital Storytelling program at Asbury, Hardy has been diligently working to craft her own scripts, as well as on others’ film projects. She’s also currently working independently as a script editor.

“There was a lot I didn’t know about the film process and actually taking that advanced screenwriting class with Professor Nasfell was truly amazing because now I’m able to use those skills to help other people,” Hardy said. “It’s kind of become my ministry and I also get to work on my own projects with a better insight to storytelling. I’ve learned how to build characters [and] a three-act structure. I just didn’t have those skills before. I can potentially have a business doing that because a lot of people don’t have those skills. I’m able to market myself a little better.”

The concept of life as ministry is an important one to Hardy. She sees each day as a chance to minister to lost souls.

“Every day I try to use my life as a testament to God,” Hardy said. “I want people to see Christ in me so I can walk as Christ would walk in a situation. I really want to use the gifts and talents that the Lord has given me…so when I die I can say, ‘Lord, I tried to use everything that you’ve given me to promote the Gospel.’”

Her time at Asbury was one of growth and learning not just in technical skills but a space where Hardy also learned some important faith lessons. A trying time came up when she was suspended from the program after failing an audio production course.

“I really just had to rely on and trust in the Lord and put my faith in Him because I had to appeal,” Hardy said. “By the grace of God, I got back in and never was put on academic probation ever again. But, it just taught me not to make excuses.”

What’s on the horizon for Hardy? She recently relocated back to the Lexington area following a stay in Houston. She hopes to continue building up her film experience and eventually make the move to the film industry hub of Burbank, Calif., where she plans to open her own production company. A go-getter, Hardy wants to do it all: write, produce, direct and even act in her own films.

Looking back on her time as a graduate student, Hardy is grateful for the experiences and excited to use the skills she learned in the program as a launch pad for a long, steady career in the film industry.

“It’s a really great program for those people who need to [pursue a degree] online because it’s not your typical online experience,” Hardy said. “It’s very interactive. You’ll feel like you’re in a classroom but the best part is you can be anywhere in the world.

But, it was that unique blend of academic excellence and spiritual vitality that truly enriched her learning experiences. 

“I really love how connected the students are and that the professors pray before the classes,” Hardy said. “I really feel like the Holy Spirit is there and I just think it’s a great program for anybody pursuing the creative side of writing or directing or film. I’ve had a great experience.”

Learn more about Asbury’s Master of Arts in Communication program by visiting asbury.edu/academics/degrees/graduate/digital-storytelling.