Faculty Friday: Kristina Khederlarian — God’s Hand in Life’s Synchronicities

by Megan Wilhelm

For some, Azusa Pacific University is simply the first step in their academic career. For Kristina Khederlarian, PhD, APU has been the common denominator for much of her spiritual formation and educational journey. Not only is the full-time professor an APU alumna, her first interactions with the university and its students extend all the way back to her years in junior high.

Khederlarian, who teaches in the School of Business and Management, spent her time at APU as a political science major. After graduating in the middle of the 2008 economic recession, however, she began working in data entry at a transportation company, before becoming a project manager. After years of working various roles in corporate America, she began to wonder about other career opportunities. “I was mostly in the tech and project management space and ended up thinking, ‘Is there something more than working in corporate?’ That’s when I decided I wanted to do research, give back, and make an impact in people’s lives through being a professor,” she said.

Khederlarian began pursuing graduate studies, earning her MA in Management from APU in 2012 and both her MA in International Studies and PhD in World Politics and Management from Claremont Graduate University in 2018 and 2020, respectively. While defending her dissertation, Khederlarian began searching for a teaching position. At the same time, APU was looking for a business professor. “It all lined up perfectly,” she said. “I even had certain ideas in my mind about what I thought was possible and what wasn’t possible. The way that it turned out was even better than I could have planned or expected for myself. It’s always been like that for me and APU.”

The Glendora native went on to describe the first time she crossed paths with her future alma mater. While still a tween, Khederlarian built relationships with APU students who were volunteering with Young Life. The students visited Khederlarian’s middle school and made time to connect with her during a difficult time. “Junior high was really hard for me, and I remember the APU students came and how much they genuinely cared about us, and they would talk to me during my lunch break,” she said. Through this connection, Khederlarian began attending Young Life. As a sophomore in high school, she gave her life to Christ and was baptized at Cornerstone Bible Church in Glendora.

When the time came for Khederlarian to choose a college to attend, APU was at the top of her list. However, she was unsure if the university’s price would fit into her family’s tuition budget. In the end, APU ended up being the exact dollar amount — even more affordable than local, public universities. “It’s always been one of those things where I felt God was calling me here, even if it was by little synchronicities of when things happen,” she said. Now, after two years teaching full-time at APU, Khederlarian is grateful to be back, investing in the community that has poured much into her. In both junior high and college, she received mentorship from others. Now, as a professor, she gets to do the same with her students, whether it’s through talking about God in the classroom, speaking one-on-one with students about faith, or through service-learning.

Khederlarian is passionate about mentorship, and she encourages students to connect with others on campus. “Take advantage of the opportunities that you have to meet people and network, even with your own professors,” she said. “The people you meet now could be the people that really help you out in the future.” Speaking from experience, Khederlarian hopes all students pursue community and mentorship, two things that made all the difference in her academic, professional, and spiritual journeys.

Megan Wilhelm '23 is a public relations intern in the Division of Strategic Communication and Engagement.