Student Spotlight: Dana Purdom digs deep

  1. Student spotlight: A second chance at seminary
  2. Student spotlight: Pay attention to the “bread crumbs”
  3. Student spotlight: Relationship leads to Union
  4. Student spotlight: The twisting path to seminary
  5. Student spotlight: Longtime educator yearns to learn more
  6. Student Spotlight: Dana Purdom digs deep
  7. Alec Powell: The Unconventional Call
  8. Kate Meeks: Theology & Food Justice
  9. Nancy Myer: Lifelong learning
  10. Senator Scott: Finding community and connection
  11. Colleen Earp: Camping, conservation, and chickens
  12. In “Reference” to Paula Skreslet
  13. Paul Smith: From police officer to pastor
  14. Heather Woodworth Brannon advocates for housing justice in Richmond


When Dana Purdom moved from Los Angeles to Charlotte in 2005 to provide a better life for her family, she had no idea she was about to enter the most difficult time in her life. She faced a season involving divorce, depression, suicidal thoughts, alcoholism, and homelessness.

“I was angry and mad at [God] for that situation,” Purdom says.

Yet through it all, Purdom continued to go to church. She says she was raised in the church and has been a “church-goer” all her life, even during her darkest days. “Through therapy I was able to find healing. I was able to find comfort through cultivating a relationship with God.”

Purdom describes how God filled a gap in her life when she was struggling. “God is my partner. He is my friend,” she says.

Looking back, Purdom says she can see that all along God has led her to where she is right now. She credits her associate pastor with asking her to consider seminary and introducing her to Union.

“I finally felt like this is my calling, this is my purpose. This is where I’m supposed to be,” Purdom says of her decision to attend seminary.

For 17 years, Purdom has worked as a hairstylist. She owns a salon, but she has reduced her hours to three days per week so she can concentrate on earning her Master of Divinity. She hopes to transition into full-time ministry in the future, though she is open to whatever form of ministry the Lord leads her to. Being at Union has shown Purdom that pastoral ministry is not the only use for a seminary degree. “It opened my eyes to the many different paths that can be taken,” she says.

Dana encourages her fellow students to “cultivate your relationship with God.  Seek him, dig deep, passionately, he will show up for in ways you can’t even imagine. This literally was not my life one year ago.”