Kathleen “Keg” E. Gahagen Derushia ’91 Lives Life in Service to Others
Described as having a “spunky, no-nonsense attitude,” Kathleen “Keg” Gahagen Derushia has never allowed herself to accept “no” for an answer. Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age one, Derushia has battled infections, diabetes and numerous complications related to CF, yet her faith and unwavering commitment to serving others have remained steadfast.
“I think we grow through adversity,” Derushia said. “CF has given me a basis for my faith, which has certainly served me well for what I was called to do.”
The pastor of Abiding Savior Lutheran Church in North Tonawanda, N.Y., Derushia ministers to more than 325 parishioners, walking hand in hand with them through difficulties and triumphs. Derushia displayed that same care and compassion during her years at Wittenberg, so much so that one classmate said Derushia changed the focus of her life dramatically.
“I learned to value, honor and respect others at Wittenberg,” Derushia said. “I also valued Wittenberg’s connection to the Lutheran church, and I learned to serve here.”
A theatre and dance major who went on to earn her master of divinity from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia in 1997, Derushia has also volunteered for her alma mater in several ways and currently teaches on healing and health and spirituality at the University of Buffalo Medical School. Profiled in the 2002 summer issue of Alpha Xi Delta sorority’s national magazine, The Quill, Derushia also serves as company chaplain for Columbia Hook and Ladder in New York.
In light of her exceptional accomplishments in which service to humanity is placed ahead of personal gain, Wittenberg honored her with an Alumni Citation Award during Homecoming and Reunion Weekend, Oct. 28-29.
“I just love life. Every day, I think, ‘What’s going to happen today?’ My parents instilled that expectant attitude in me. Get up and go! You can make life happen.”