Written by Kate Gronewald
Photographed by Randy Mallory
Dr. Melanie Roudkovski loves change. As an associate professor of psychology in LETU’s School of Education, her brain is always buzzing with new ways to broaden her students’ academic experiences and make them exceptional.
Her latest efforts include curriculum development for two new graduate degree programs in the School of Graduate and Professional Studies: a Master in Counseling and a Master in Psychology. Both will be offered entirely online and will launch in January 2011, pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
“This is an opportunity to be a leader in online education, in being innovative and using our ingenuity to provide quality online instruction and train students for the counseling profession,” Roudkovski said.
Whether she is crafting graduate course material or teaching counseling courses in LETU’s traditional program, Roudkovski infuses her professional clinical experiences into the classroom. She stays fresh in the field by maintaining a small, private counseling practice and actively researching behavioral topics.
Roudkovski’s primary research is in family health, specifically 14 factors found to be indicative of healthy family functioning. She applies her findings in courses such as marriage and family and in the community, through family retreats and parenting seminars, where she draws the connection between family and faith.
“I enjoy seeing the practical side of my research,” Roudkovski said. “We first and foremost need Christians researching family—and not have just anyone telling us what makes a good family. The things that make families healthy are biblical principles. That’s what works.”
Roudkovski has published an assessment for clinicians to measure family health. Her book on family health, specifically among multicultural families, is set for publication this summer.
Roudkovski’s interest in marriages between different ethnic identities began with her own family. Her husband, Dr. Viktor Roudkovski, is Russian. The two met while attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and both are now on faculty at LETU. The other Dr. Roudkovski is as an assistant professor of biblical studies.
In January, LETU awarded Roudkovski Title III grant funds to contribute to her research proposal on the global experience “An Australian Adventure: Taking LeTourneau Down Under.”
Roudkovski coordinated a three-week academic and mission trip to Australia in Redcliffe, Queensland, a coastal town outside of Brisbane. This summer, 13 students made the trip Down Under with the Roudkovski family and two additional LETU faculty members— Dr. Vicki Sheafer, psychology, and Dr. Pat Mays, Christian ministries.
Working with Mueller Community Church and its private Christian school, ministry training facility and retirement village, LETU students shared devotionals, led chapel services and even participated in “sport” (the Aussies’ version of physical education class). For a more complete cultural immersion, students were housed with church families during their stay and accompanied church members on their annual mission trip, a 10-hour drive inland to minister to aboriginal communities.
Roudkovski’s enthusiasm for initiating new experiences makes even more than a global impact. Her love of change inspires the lives of her students. “I never got to do things like this when I was younger, so to offer kids and families an opportunity they wouldn’t get otherwise is thrilling,” Roudkovski said. “I grew up in a single parent home. My mom always said ‘Education is not optional. You do it, and you do it to the best of your ability.’ Beyond that, anything is possible.”