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The Open Doors That Led to Success

“And they’re like, ‘You know, our country's going into a recession.  Do you think that's a wise idea?’  I think some of them were stunned,” remembers Nicole Hayes.

It was September 2008 when she left her job as Senior Account Executive at one of the largest PR firms in the world.

She adds, “But for those who knew me, they know I follow the Lord's leading.  And so I said, ‘Yes, this is what I feel like the Lord is putting on my heart to do.’”  

For Nicole, that meant leaving the comfort of a good, steady paycheck, and striking out on her own as an independent PR and media consultant for small, Christian-owned businesses.

Nicole says, “I never looked back.  And God has continued to provide and provide.  I've never had to market myself.  The work has always just come.”   

The move also gave her the flexibility to pursue another passion on the side: giving Christians a voice in the media - even when it’s “unpopular” to do so.  In 2013, she started Voices Against the Grain, a blog and podcast that espouses Christian viewpoints on social and political issues.

Nicole says, “Is there a way that we can provide the world solutions to issues of our day through a biblical world view?  And the answer is yes.  It was an opportunity to hear testimonies from believers, who were advancing God's kingdom in what I call a ‘Do your own thing’ society.”  

Then, Nicole decided she wanted to take those biblical solutions to the public sector, by working with non-profits.  For her, that meant going back to school for a Master’s in Public Administration.  It was then, a representative from Regent University spoke at her church.

Nicole shares, “My impression was this was a school that was grounded in Biblical world view.  And that's something I was seeking.”  

So in the fall of 2015, Nicole enrolled in Regent’s online Master’s program.  She explains, “Mine was a concentration in Non-profit and Faith-based Management.  But it also allowed you to see, how do nonprofits and local governments work together to solve problems for their citizens?  And how do you run a nonprofit effectively and ethically?”  

And although her courses were online, Nicole wasn’t alone.  Through discussion boards, she quickly discovered a vibrant, close-knit community.

She says, “I felt connected by the fellowship, sharing about who we are, where we're from, each week about the particular class topic or discussion.  We're also encouraging one another.”
After earning her master’s in 2017, Nicole started looking for a full-time job.  Then, she got an email from a stranger asking to use a photo from her blog.    

She recalls, “I said, ‘Sure.’  And I see in his signature block, Christian Medical and Dental Associations. I'm like, ‘Well, who’s that?’”      

The Christian Medical and Dental Associations, or CMDA, is a non-profit organization that equips, educates, and empowers healthcare professionals and students to be a voice for Christian values in their field.

Nicole adds, “Their mission is to ‘Transform doctors, transforming the world.’  And  I love that.  I said, ‘Wow!’  I said, ‘They are not ashamed to share Christ with people who have not heard about Him, who have not heard the Gospel.’  And I loved that.  And so I didn't see a job posting on their website, but I felt led to send in my resume.”

Just one week later, Nicole’s leap of faith turned into an offer to start a new chapter of CMDA, in Washington, D.C. – where Nicole already lived.  Still wanting to do her freelance work, she prayed about the opportunity.  

"‘God, if this is of Your will, please, confirm it for me.  If it's not, shut it down.  Just shut the door.’  And everything just kept getting greenlighted, greenlighted, greenlighted, greenlighted,” Nicole says.

She decided she could do both!  So in August 2018, she stepped into her leadership role with CMDA.  Her chapter works with students at four universities across D.C. and Maryland.  

Nicole shares, “I'm grateful.  God has put me in a position to mentor our young people, to mentor our healthcare professionals.  I really love the heart of our young people.”

Looking back on her journey, Nicole is thankful to god for all the people and experiences he put in her path, including Regent University.

She says, “From start to finish, Regent does everything in excellence.   There is just a godly spirit among folks at Regent, and I could not have asked for a better experience, and you will not be disappointed.”

And for those still seeking god’s direction for their lives, Nicole has advice: “All those questions sometimes we all have about what is the right path, what is my purpose?  You got to actually seek the one who made you.  Most certainly His plans for us are far greater than we could ever imagine for ourselves.”

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