Meet the Student Development Team

RICK ENGSTROM | Dean of Student Development

Rick serves as our Dean of Student Development. He is originally from San Diego, where he grew up at the beach or on a baseball diamond. He stayed close to home and studied philosophy and theology, and minored in psychology, at Point Loma Nazarene University. During college, Rick was involved in a variety of ministry opportunities—he was a junior high youth pastor, Resident Assistant, and youth director for a Christian non-profit which worked with homeless/at-risk teens. It was his work in the residence hall which captured his interest, and that spurred his career in student development.
Rick has worked professionally with Christian college students since 2006. That same year Rick married his wife, Shelley, who is an artist, writer and adjunct professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. Rick and Shelley live on campus and enjoy frequently having students into their home. They have a son, River, and two Boston Terriers, Gracie and Nora, who also love the students of NU.

LARISSA LILLY | Associate Dean of Student Development

Larissa Lilly is the Associate Dean of Student Development. Her passion is to build community and help facilitate opportunities for students to find a place to belong at Northwest. She most recently took on a new role and now does this by overseeing our Residence Life and Housing department. She loves working with a team of Area Coordinators and Resident Assistants to serve the residential students at NU! Larissa has been living intentional life with college students for 12 years. Though originally from a farm in eastern Washington, Larissa has found this work has taken her all over the US, but was happy to move back to the PNW in 2016. Her top five strengths are Achiever, Responsibility, Activator, Developer and Restorative. She’s a strong Three on the Enneagram and loves talking with students about how their personalities and stories play out. Larissa met her husband, Curtis, shortly after coming back to the PNW and they have two beautiful daughters, Zia and Iry! Plus a baby boy along the way. In her time away from work, you can find Larissa enjoying time with her family, fellowshipping with friends over meals, or at a local coffee shop. Come on by her office in the Pecota Center and ask her to take you to coffee!

BLAKE SMALL | Director of Multicultural Life

Blake Small is the Director of Multicultural Life.  His role includes supervision of the student leader group MOSAIC, multicultural fellowship clubs and NU’s Act Six scholarship program.  Each of these responsibilities seek to advocate and offer opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds to find their voice at NU.  Blake moved to the Northwest in the fall of 2018.  He originally was born in South Korea but grew up in the East Valley of Phoenix, Az.  Blake earned his B.S. in Accounting from Arizona State University and his M.A. in Intercultural/Urban Studies from Moody Theological Seminary, in Chicago.  His top five strengths are Harmony, Restorative, Deliberative, Adaptability and Individualization.
Blake is married to his compassionate wife Hannah, an RN at EvergreenHealth.  Their son Elias is two years old and ready to take on the world.  In his free time, you can find Blake in the outdoors exploring all that Washington has to offer, hitting tennis balls or playing with his rambunctious Bernese Mountain Dog.

SHELBIE FRYE | Community Life Coordinator

Shelbie serves as the Community Life Coordinator, overseeing campus wide programming such as Welcome Weekend, Student Activities Board, and co-advising the Associated Students of Northwest University. She is born and raised in Lynnwood, Washington and has enjoyed being in the PNW her whole life. During college, she stayed close and decided on attending Northwest University where she was heavily involved in many groups such as orientation, cheerleading, student Senate and the Student Activities Board. As an NU alumni, Shelbie is thrilled to continue to serve the University by leading many of the groups she was a part of herself.

In her free time, Shelbie loves to play with her dog Mocha, be with friends and family, and occasionally create a sporadic art project. Shelbie and her husband Jed, married in August 2020, love to have friends over, play board games, watch movies together and take their dog to the dog park. Jed and Shelbie are thrilled to be in the Northwest community and continue to build relationships with everyone that is part of the NU family. Her 5 Strengths are Strategic, Communication, Adaptability, Positivity and Achieving.

PATRICK MCLELAND | Area Coordinator of Gray-Beatty Residence Halls

Patrick serves as the Area Coordinator for Gray & Beatty residence halls. Patrick spent several years of his childhood in South Africa where his family served as missionaries; where he first came to know the Lord. As a student, he received both of his degrees from Indiana Wesleyan University, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s in Psychology with an Addictions Studies focus in 2015, followed a few years later with a Master’s in Student Development Administration in 2018. In the past few years, Patrick has served as a camp director with SpringHill in Michigan. He looks fondly on his experience as a camp director as it, along with his student life experience and education, has prepared him for ministry within the hall. You can find Patrick around the hall, in his office, or exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest; he’s new to the area. For fun, Patrick is going to be out for a run, reading a good book, board gaming, movie critiquing, playing yard games, or simply enjoying nature. If you ever want to discuss philosophy or just say hello, feel free to stop by his office, there will always be plenty of coffee to share. 

Through it all, Patrick believes that every person has been created with their own unique divine calling that brings purpose to life. Though Strengths Finder and Enneagram types are important information to some, for others, the significance of such tests may be obsolete. Though Patrick does love a good personality discussion, what’s most important to him is that students can see Northwest their home away from home.

SARA RODRIGUEZ | Area Coordinator of the Apartments

Sara Rodriguez serves as the Area Coordinator for the Apartments and is excited to be part of the Northwest Community. She grew up in Indiana, where she received her Bachelor’s in Adolescent Ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University. She continued her education in Texas and received her Master’s in Christian Education from Dallas Baptist University while teaching outdoor education classes to 5th graders. She is now pursuing her Doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Liberty University Online. Her professional experience has been spent in camping ministry, where she has had many opportunities to connect with college-age students. This work grew her passion for college students, and she landed at Northwest. She is an enneagram seven, and her strengths are connectedness, empathy, developer, positivity, and ideation.

Sara spends her free time hanging out with friends, cooking for people, enjoying live music, trying a new coffee shop, or traveling. She is always up for an adventure and a good conversation! So please feel free to stop by her office for a good chat and maybe some coffee!

ARLETTE HENDERSON| Area Coordinator of Guy, Perks, and Crowder Residence Halls

Arlette Henderson serves as the Area Coordinator for the Guy, Perks, and Crowder Residence Halls. She is from Houston, Texas and enjoys living life with purpose. She has previously served as a Resident Assistant, Resident Manager, Resident Director, Student Organization Advisor, and Ordained and Licensed Minister. Arlette completed a Bachelor of Science in Sociology with a Human Services Concentration Degree from East Texas Baptist University and a Master of Business Administration Degree from East Texas Baptist University. Her top five strengths are Responsibility, Achiever, Ideation, Empathy, and Strategic.

Traveling, cooking, shopping, and exploring new things are her favorite hobbies. Her Servant leadership commitment is a key cherished value that she possesses in her current student development career position by humbly serving, motivating, mentoring, and leading individuals in a Christ-like manner.

CRISTHIAN ALVARADO | Student Development Graduate Assistant

Cristhian currently serves as the Graduate Assistant for Student Development. In his role, he works alongside other Student Development staff to create an inclusive, fun and home-like atmosphere for the students of Northwest. His passion is for people, and helping them in whatever way he can. In the spring of 2020, Cristhian graduated with his bachelor’s degree in business administration, and is currently working toward his master’s degree in the same discipline. His top five strengths are belief, activator, developer, empathy and communication.

In his free time you can find Cristhian spending time with friends, playing soccer, or exploring Kirkland and the surrounding areas. If you see him around campus, don’t hesitate to say hello or ask a question!