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    Education for a Lifetime

    A group of Christian professionals reflects on the power of professors reaching out.

    Diane Vescovi

    The college choice is one of the first adult decisions high-school students make. It sets off dozens of other choices, as students carve out their paths for learning and service. When a college boasts a faculty of committed Christians, a student is headed toward knowing what it means to live with God's desires in mind.

    The following stories from alums are about faculty who proved that learning that is shown—in shared interests or through an inviting presence—turns learning that is told into a lively encounter.

    We are grateful for the college alumni who were willing to share their stories, and to the school offices that collected them. The following versions are taken from first-person accounts.

    Inspired to Give Back

    These students say that educators who believed in them challenged them to give back by lifting up others.

    Lauren Anderson, California Baptist University, Riverside, California, 2006.

    After a rough start at a state school, Lauren Anderson transferred to California Baptist with her father's encouragement. "I met Gary Bonner, dean of the school of music, the next week," says Anderson. "Dr. Bonner … loves music and its power to yield relationships between performers and listeners." By investing in Anderson, Bonner showed that he had high expectations. "Dr. Bonner believes in his students' dreams, helping us have faith that we can influence the world through music, praise, and discipline." Anderson attests that this has made her aspirations more tangible.

    Christian Koch, Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, Florida, biology, 1990.

    Christian Koch got to know many science professors during his days at Palm Beach Atlantic. He remembers professor Ray Waldner from marine biology classes: "You could see his dedication to the student in the time he spent talking with you. I worked closely with professor Peggy Van Arman as her aide. She was always there to encourage you when you were down." Koch's senior project and field biology classes also brought him close to Gary Goss. "His love for teaching was one of the reasons I am now involved in science education," says Koch. "I only hope that I am able to impact a student's life as they did with me."

    Alyce (Cox) Jennings, Malone College, Canton, Ohio, social work, 1997.

    Jane Hoyt-Oliver and Alyce (Cox) Jennings share a penchant for complicated social policies, and are passionate about living out the gospel and caring for the poor. "As a professor, Jane was straightforward about our responsibilities as future social workers," Jennings says. She remembers Hoyt-Oliver starting classes with a devotional that emphasized social justice and evangelism. "Jane's faith is evident in everything she does," says Jennings. "She helped us apply Jesus' teachings to current events." The professor and student now work together on a professional basis: As a director at East Akron Community House, Jennings keeps Hoyt-Oliver updated on community issues.

    Encouraged to Succeed

    These students went on to accomplish goals that would have been impossible without their educators' devotion.

    Jacquie Serr, Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego, California, literature, journalism, and modern languages, 2005.

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