30 Under 30 — 2021
A Spotlight on 30 Young Asbury Alums
Vada Bennett ’16
Ben Campbell ’19
Drew Cooney ’19
Lauren Edgell ’18
Fabiola Flores ’19
Elijah Friedeman ’15
Alexandria George ’19
Caleb Griffin ’14
Berenice Soto ’15 Heinlein
Austin Kindred ’18
Tinson Lam ’19
Paul Liao ’19
David McCorvey ’19
Tyler Ogden ’16
Tommy Otley ’17
Clara Quade ’20
Katie Rutledge ’18
Tim Shell ’18
Hayley Sledge ’20
Bradley Strait ’15
Ian Tan ’19
Betsy Shifflett ’20 Thacker
Colin Toth ’20
Kaylee Van Winkle ’19
Jonathan Waterman ’18
Sharayah Jung ’13 Whelchel
Abby Witt ’17
Paula Diaz ’16 Willison
Sarah George ’17 Woodard
Todd Yoder ’16
Vada Bennett ’16
Media Communications major
Broadcast Production Manager, Drone Racing League
Vada Bennett ’16, a media communications major, is the broadcast production manager for the Drone Racing League. Growing up in the video production family business, this was a natural fit for Vada. Working remotely, she most recently led the team that built an entirely virtual production system to keep their show on the air during the era of social distancing.
“I love the adrenaline of working in live TV. This field is something that can be constantly expanded. The ability to continue expanding and growing my knowledge and skills seems limitless. Another benefit is the wide array of people I get to work with on these productions. Every time I take on a new show, I get to meet a new group of people and expand my network. Because of my position, I have the opportunity to bring new people in, hiring and teaching new professionals who are often Asbury grads, showing them the ropes of working in sports production. The network that I gained at Asbury I take with me wherever I go. I’ve become a bit notorious at DRL for bringing the “Asbury mafia” with me. Most of my productions are 80% Asbury alum.
“I’ve learned the value of relationships. I went to the Rio Olympics through the Asbury Media Comm program. While I was there, my Venue Logistics Manager told me that she was Production Manager for a startup. She told me they had an event coming up that October and she wanted me to be part of the team. From that, I freelanced directly under her for 2016-2017 and then went full time in the start of 2018. I am constantly looking to invest in relationships, building my circle of connections, both for the benefit of my friends and relations, as well as my own personal benefit.
“Dr. Owens told me ‘no’ my Freshman year (reasonably, I had the gall to ask if I could take the production truck out and do a show). That ‘no’ drove me to prove myself and learn enough to get a ‘yes’. By my senior year, I got to take out the truck and do exactly what I asked for Freshman year. Take advantage of the resources you have in school—equipment, labs, professors, opportunities, other students. Everything now is part of your Asbury experience—it’s all ‘free’ and there is SO MUCH there. You can try things, spend time learning new methods and techniques and have so many experts around you to get input. Go wild. Find out what you like, find out what you don’t like, make mistakes, discover successes.”
Ben Campbell ’19
International Tax Associate, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Ben Campbell ’19, an accounting major, is an International Tax Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (“PwC”) where he works with clients regarding consulting and compliance (tax returns) for corporations. While at Asbury, he connected with alumni to help him understand the career field and to get connected to other professionals. This introduction eventually led him to interview for a position at his firm. In his current role, Ben works with people who are located all around the world, allowing him the opportunity to work alongside folks with a wide variety of backgrounds, identities and values.
“Being able to help my clients with a vast array of challenges gives me joy. While it is not always easy, there are countless opportunities to grow and develop within my role. Every day there are different needs that test a different area of my team’s skillset making it so one day is rarely the same as another. I am learning the value of ‘it is better to get it right than being right.’ This mindset of desiring to get it right, instead of being right requires a humbleness I am still figuring out. Whether it is a complex technical issue the team is working on or helping a coworker learn more about the firm, the value comes in being willing to seek out the right and best answer rather than believing you know best.
“Asbury provided me with great opportunities to grow as an individual, gain professional experience, build a network of connections, solve complex problems, and helped me develop a very strong foundation for my faith. Within the classroom, professors did not just focus on the specific problems the class presented. They went out of their way to not only present those problems but to challenge students to grapple with problems they would face outside of the classroom. Taking it a step further, they focused on the importance of building a foundation of faith that would impact these choices, as well.
“As a former college athlete and student body president, I found that what a person gets out of a college experience can often come down to what they choose to put into it. My classes challenged me in a way I had not been challenged before and my experiences outside of the classroom helped develop me as a leader with the ability to take on complex challenges, working to build up more women and men of faith.
“Asbury University is home to some of the greatest individuals I have ever met in my life and is also home to some of the people who have had the most impact on my life. Faculty and staff care so deeply about each person who steps on campus. Outside of the people of Asbury, the University provides plenty of opportunities to develop yourself as a professional and a follower of God. No matter where you go after college, Asbury serves as a launching pad for those next steps and equips you with the tools to go forward.”
Drew Cooney ’19
Social Studies Education major
8th Grade Social Studies Teacher, Jessamine County
Drew Cooney ’19, a social studies education major and 8th grade Social Studies teacher, believes that he was called to education. Mentoring students is his favorite part of this job.
“Building these young students up and helping them through some of the issues and situations they are facing are what brings me the most joy. Getting to pour out hope, joy, and love onto kids that may not get those things at home or anywhere else is one of the main reasons that I chose to go into education. I believe middle school is a huge tipping point for most kids, a crossroads-age, and my goal is to help them down the right path.
“Asbury gave me all the tools that I needed to succeed. In the Education program, they get you into the classroom immediately and often. The experience that you gain from observing and teaching in the classroom is priceless. Being able to form relationships with administrations and staff, as well as practice what you learn in class, really helped prepare me for having a classroom of my own.
“I have learned so many lessons in my first year of teaching. While I was well prepared for this role there are some things you just learn in the position, like flexibility. Situations change so much and so often that you have to be flexible to accommodate it all. Learning the difference between what I can control and what I can’t is something I am still learning. This has been a scary but fulfilling experience. And I am learning to truly lean on God.
“It is so important is to find your community once you graduate. Unfortunately, the world isn’t like Asbury where God is so prevalent, often tangible at times, going to a place that often dismisses Him. It is incredibly important to find a Christ-centered community to keep yourself focused and uplifted. I still get advice and encouragement from my wonderful education professors and others who I have had the pleasure of working with at Asbury. Maintaining those relationships have brought me a lot of joy during the craziness of post-grad life.
“Enjoy your time at Asbury and take in as much as you can! I feel like I blinked, and I was in my senior year preparing for graduation. Take time to develop meaningful connections at Asbury and outside of Asbury. I still get advice and encouragement from my wonderful education professors and others who I have had the pleasure of working with at Asbury. Maintaining those relationships have brought me a lot of joy during the craziness of post-grad life.”
Lauren Edgell ’18
Youth Ministry major
Director of Student Ministries, New Life Downtown
Lauren Edgell ’18 is pursuing her Master’s in Theological Studies, with a specialization in Spiritual Formation, while serving full-time as the student ministries director at New Life Downtown in Colorado Springs. Passionate about student ministry, Lauren has been searching for ways to serve students and their families, equipping them to develop their own relationships with Christ built on love, humility, joy and peace. She loves seeing the way students grow in confidence to discuss scripture and their relationships with God.
“I’ve learned that God is the only One who can heal and change people. My role is not to ‘fix’ people but to guide them to the One who can totally transform them into His likeness. Jesus constantly humbles me and reminds me that He is the One who holds everyone’s life in His hands. He is the one who loves unconditionally and He’s the One who died for our sins.
“I would encourage everyone to get connected to a local church. Really get in, make friends, serve and delight in the community there. For our young alums, young adulthood can be so lonely but staying connected—like, actually connected—to a church helps with transitions, giving you people to go back to, to grow with and to face life with.”
Asbury encouraged Lauren to grow in her relationship with Christ and helped her to uncover her passion for ministry. “I loved my time at Asbury. There were so many opportunities to be involved on campus and use my gifts. I was plugged in, helping make decisions, praying for classmates, and so much more. I encourage anyone to come and find your place.
“I would encourage any Asbury student or young alum to get connected to a local church. Don’t just attend some Sundays- really get in, make friends, serve, and delight in the community there. Young adulthood can be so lonely but staying connected—like, actually connected—to a church can help with transition and give you people to go back to, to grow with and to face life with.”
Fabiola Flores ’19
Ophthalmology technician, Commonwealth Eye Surgery
Fabiola Flores ’19, a biochemistry major, was born in Honduras and is trilingual, able to speak Spanish, French and English fluently. From a young age, she knew that she wanted to become a doctor and that she wanted to attend college in the States. After an Asbury alum spoke on campus about ophthalmic surgery and the leading cause of blindness, cataracts, Fabiola knew that was an area of medicine she wanted to pursue. She is working as an ophthalmology technician as she prepares for medical school and has already decided this will be her area of expertise. This experience has been intriguing and fulfilling for Fabiola.
“I get to see and experience the joy that a patient has after recovering their eyesight. Their quality of life is very much improved, whether it is by refractive surgery or cataract surgery. Knowing that the patient will gain their independence back is priceless. The fact that I get to help in their process of recovering their eyesight brings joy and gratitude to my days.
“I know I will succeed in this field because of the help and investment I received at Asbury. As an international student, I had many struggles adapting to a new environment. Every single professor I encountered throughout my career impacted my life tremendously. From making sure you were prepared to advice on graduate schools, they helped me find clarity and meaningfulness in my studies and future career.
“The biochemistry major is a challenging one and I did not have much free time, but being part of groups like the Gospel choir and working in many different jobs across campus helped me experience the community at Asbury and grow in my faith.
“Asbury truly embodies academic excellence and spiritual vitality. The professors will make sure you succeed even beyond the classroom. I also appreciated the emphasis on Holiness at AU, because of the times that we live in, we must never forget that holiness is what we should strive for.”
Elijah Friedeman ’15
Ancient Languages (Biblical Languages) and Communications (Public Relations) major
VP for Enrollment, Wesley Biblical Seminary
Elijah Friedeman ’15, an Ancient Languages and Communications double major, is the Vice President for Enrollment at Wesley Biblical Seminary and the founding pastor of Foundry Church. He didn’t enter Asbury with a plan to work in higher education but knew that he would need to be bi-vocational to plant a church. In both roles, he can directly serve God’s Kingdom and it has been a rewarding experience.
“I believe that every job a Christian does to honor Jesus expands the Kingdom, but it is a wonderful opportunity to participate in preparing people around the world for more effective ministry. I also enjoy the challenge and possibilities of my role. I know that if I can problem solve and make the right decisions, then I can double or triple the seminary’s impact. That knowledge—and the challenge that comes with it—drives me.
“Asbury’s primary contribution to my professional success was an ability to think deeply, increase my understanding, and communicate clearly. A lot of people think the value of a bachelor’s degree is getting into a job. There’s some truth to that. But if you pick the right college, you’ll also gain the ability to succeed once you get into your first job. Have an irrational priority for people. When you put people first, God will bless the rest.
“The first few years after college will be some of the hardest. I believe that the people who choose consistency, hard work, and continual learning in these hard times are the ones who are ultimately successful. The habits you set right now are more important than the goals you are trying to accomplish. Goals are the finish line, but habits are the engine that gets you there.
“Your college experience is one of the most formative times of your life. Asbury offers a grounded, Christian environment in which you can develop a robust intellectual life and build dynamic relationships with your professors. Four years of preparation at Asbury will prepare you well for the challenges of the professional world—and give you the tools to find success.”
Alexandria George ’19
Accounting major, Masters of Business Administration
Auditor, Elliott Davis
Alexandria George ’19, an accounting major who finished her MBA in Asbury’s 3-1 program, is an auditor for Elliott Davis, a public accountant firm in TN.
“I am an auditor in a public accounting firm reviewing and providing assurance on financial statements from small not-for-profits to large snack-cake manufacturers. My position allows me to continue my education and learn more about what drives and develops different businesses. My dream is to invest in start-up businesses that operate with Biblical principles around the world. So, in my current position I take every opportunity to learn the characteristics and practices of a successful business to advise my future start-ups.
“I am learning the value of finding the right people to support you in your goals. There is absolutely no way I could accomplish an audit without the support of my team. They take some of the workload, review and correct my mistakes, and they encourage me to step outside my comfort-zone to try new things. I apply this same concept in my personal life, as well. I always have the support of my family, but I intentionally surround myself with friends and mentors who challenge me to accomplish my personal goals and grow in my spiritual life.
“While at Asbury, I learned to pursue financial, social, and spiritual capital in business. This has been foundational as I pursue my vocation. While this is taught as a practice for operating a business, I like to apply it to my everyday work and aspirations for the future. Most people believe pursuing financial success is necessary to sustain a quality of life. However, it’s important to pursue social justice and spiritual growth in order to further the cause of Christ around the world. These are principles that have become foundational to my vocation.
“Many classes at Asbury impacted me in substantial ways but one stands out that ignited a passion for learning and liberal arts — Dr. Dan Strait’s Literature and Culture class. In this class, we read The History of Rasselas: Prince of Abyssinia. Samuel Johnson writes a compelling story about a young prince that travels the world contemplating his future. He seeks out all types of potential lifestyles, from poet to hermit. While reading this work and listening to Dr. Strait’s lectures on it, I realized we make choices every day that shape who we are becoming. We are all on a trajectory toward something, and we have the choice of what that thing is.
“My time at Asbury was absolutely transformational. Asbury developed me as a whole person. Professors became my biggest advocates inside and outside of the classroom. Resident directors became my friends and mentors. I was developed spiritually, emotionally, professionally, and academically. At Asbury, this isn’t just one student’s experience, every student has the opportunity to grow in such ways.
“At Asbury, you can develop life-long friendships. Take advantage of the time you have. Don’t rush. Participate in classes, get to know your professors, go to hall events, attend Chapel and really be there. And when it is time to walk across the stage and pick up your diploma, know that you are entering into a family of Asbury alumni. Embrace your family and lean into them in the midst of transition, when the world feels heavy, or you need prayer, reach out.”
Caleb Griffin ’14
Media Communications major
Video Producer/Editor, 12th Man Productions, Texas A&M Athletics
Caleb Griffin ’14, a media communications major, is a video producer and editor with 12th Man Productions in Texas A&M’s Athletics Program.
“I shoot and edit content for social media, in-venue big screen shows, and broadcasts for men’s basketball, soccer and football. I also produce the venue big screen shows for men’s basketball and soccer. And on occasion, I work on our broadcasts to bring A&M games to ESPN platforms like the SEC Network.
“I came into Asbury undecided on a major but had interest and a little experience in video production. So, I declared a media communication major and fell in love with video production more with each passing semester. I didn’t know exactly where it would take me. I just knew that whether on a set, sideline, or in the control room, I had a passion for being “in on the action” and working with a team to create things. I’ve loved and played sports my entire life, including playing soccer at Asbury. (I could go on forever about how I am forever indebted to the Asbury Men’s Soccer team. The coaches, players, and staff are forever family and shaped and developed me in so many ways!) My passion for sports combined with my love for video production make this career an excellent fit. I get to work ON a team with fellow creatives and work WITH teams in different sports. And in college athletics, there’s lots of action to get in on!
“There’s something powerful about the relationships and unity built in the context of athletics, whether as a fan, coach, or player. This has played a huge part in my life and is why I enjoy what I do. There are nearly endless incredible stories to be told in athletics. I get to build relationships with players, coaches, and staff while telling these stories in unique ways to connect with and unite fans. Just as well, there’s something beautiful and fulfilling when a creative team works together to make something no individual could do by themselves, where ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’ It is so rewarding to see an audience respond to something you make.
“One lesson that keeps coming up is ‘it’s not what’s said, it’s what’s heard that matters.’ It is so important to think about how a video’s message will be interpreted by different people with different preferences, biases, contexts, and cultures. Whether in a professional or personal context, it’s a great exercise for growing in empathy and to ask, “how are they hearing what I’m ‘saying’?
“The holistic education I received from Asbury played a huge role in preparing me for this career. I simply wouldn’t be where I am today without both the theory in the classroom and the hands-on experience through the opportunities Asbury provided. Working at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was one of the greatest experiences of my life. And it lit a fire and confirmation in me that, specifically, sports production could be a calling the Lord had for me.
“Asbury had a profound impact in shaping who I am today, both as a professional and a follower of Jesus. The community and culture fostered an environment where I grew academically, socially, athletically, and spiritually in profound ways. No, it was not all perfect, as nothing is. But still to this day I consider Asbury my home and my family. And I will always be so incredibly grateful for my time and the people there.
“Trust the Lord and His faithfulness. There are so many challenges that come with young adulthood. There will be hard times. People will fail you. Even the Church has shortcomings and can cause pain. But the Lord is good and faithful, and He can be trusted with your future. It is so hard to surrender it daily, and so necessary.
“Lean into biblical community. If you’re currently in college where friendships flourish all around or if you’re post-grad when the world can seem so lonely, press into relationships with love and vulnerability and accountability. It’s so easy to get caught up in a culture of independence and individuality. But I have found it essential to live in INTERdependence with others.”
Berenice Soto ’15 Heinlein
Elementary Education major
4th Grade Teacher, Chicago
Berenice Soto ’15 Heinlein, an elementary education major, is a 4th Grade teacher at a public International Baccalaureate school in Chicago. As an immigrant from Mexico, one of her elementary school teachers encouraged her to expect a positive future for herself despite the challenges of immigrating and learning a new language. That is when Berenice made the decision to become a teacher who now specializes in teaching English as a second language in diverse urban schools.
“I love my students so much. They inspire me to constantly improve as a professional and educator. I teach math through problem solving, inquiry-based science, and trans-disciplinary units because I find the most joy from seeing my students form opinions and express their thinking. Teaching students to think for themselves and find independence is very rewarding. They are interested in seeing change in the world, and I am excited for them to lead us some day. I have the privilege of mentoring other educators in Teaching Through Problem-Solving and am pursuing a Master’s degree while working toward National Board Certification.
“I have learned the value of setting high expectations for my students, watching them rise to challenges set before them. Children are intelligent and capable of great things, especially when provided with consistency, resources, and support. My classes are more successful when students take ownership, take risks, and learn to lead themselves.
“I was taught by passionate professors at Asbury who believed in the power of education and the potential in children. Many lectures and classes have stayed with me over the years and were foundational in my values as an educator. The education program at Asbury taught me what I needed to know to be set apart in this field.
“Do things you never thought you would, question authority, and be fine with making a lot of mistakes. Learn from those who think differently than you and do your best to fight against injustice.”
Austin Kindred ’18
Stadium Experience Coordinator, Tennessee Titans
Austin Kindred ’18, a communications major, is the stadium experience coordinator for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. As someone who appreciates getting to know people and who wants to ensure everyone is enjoying themselves, this position was a good fit for him. He gained this connection to the Titans through his experience as a student-athlete on the men’s basketball team.
“Coach Shouse was helpful in making a connection with the Titans when I first got out of college. From there, I have been building a community with this team of people. I have learned that you must be willing to grind and do what’s necessary, even if it doesn’t always get the attention. Hard and good work speaks for itself!”
Austin attributes his desire to understand others and to develop a cultural intelligence to his Intercultural Communication class.
“Asbury is filled with students that have many personalities and that come from many backgrounds. The work force is the same way. You have to be able to communicate and connect with diverse groups of people. This is where I learned to understand people who may have a different belief system than my own. At Asbury, you will grow in your faith, emotion and spirit. Who I was at the start of college is completely different from who I am now. Asbury has a lot to do with that.
“Stay Patient, stay positive and don’t compare yourself to those around you. Tunnel vision is required to reach your goals.”
Tinson Lam ’19
Music Education major
Music Teacher, Lowell Community Charter Public School
Tinson Lam ’19, a music education major and violinist, choose this field because of the profound impact music made on his life. Teaching is just one of the ways he can share his love of music and his appreciation for those teachers who invested in him. In addition to teaching, he is a full-time graduate student pursing a master’s degree in Performing Arts Leadership and Management. He is the School Outreach Director for the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra, as well. It is his hope is to create a non-profit fine arts organization dedicated to providing youth access to dance, music, theatre and art classes.
“The rigorous studies and performance opportunities at Asbury transformed me as a musician and a leader. I was supported and encouraged to accept leadership roles, even outside of my major.
“Because of this investment at Asbury and that of my former music teachers, I want to be able to share my love for music with future generations. It has been a joy to lead my students in discovering their own musical gifts and talents. Seeing them build their ‘musical toolbox’ each year and make musical connections with the world have been most rewarding.
“The future may be unknown, and you may not know what lies ahead. But God has a purpose for you and you are exactly where you need to be.”
Paul Liao ’19
Health and Physical Education major
Athletic Director Admin Assistant, Morrison Academy Kaohsiung
Paul Liao ’19, a health and physical education major, is the Athletic Director Administrative Assistant at Morrison Academy Kaohsiung in Taiwan. He is a third culture kid who was born in the U.S. but raised in Taiwan, the only native English speaker in his family. After graduating from Asbury, he returned to the school he attended to work with students and share his love of sports and competition.
“I love working with students. There are so many things we can learn together and the first step is being curious. Whether it is something related to athletics or something related to faith, seeing students grow with curiosity brings me joy in this vocation. The more I work with students the more I realize the influence a teacher can have on a student’s life. The little actions I do can affect not only a student’s feelings for the day, but also a student’s character for a lifetime.
“My favorite professor taught me no matter how good my lessons are or how effective of a teacher I am, the most important thing is learning to love students with the same love Christ offers us.
“From my Asbury experience, I love how Asbury celebrates diversity across the student population. It is amazing that half of the students that attend Asbury, a school in the little city of Wilmore, Kentucky, are from out-of-state or a different country. Before I entered Asbury, I had doubts about whether the community would accept me, but when I stepped foot on campus, people were curious and wanted to know more about my life. Asbury is a place where students can explore the different cultures in this world to better prepare themselves to impact the world.
“It is ok to not have a plan after you graduate. Sometimes having no plan is the best plan. When we lose control of our life or when we are out of options, but we still have a heart to serve God in whatever we do, He will work something out for His glory and for our good.”
David McCorvey ’19, D.C.
Communications and Marketing Associate, So Others Might Eat
David McCorvey ’19, a communications major, is the communications and marketing associate at So Others Might Eat (SOME), a non-profit organization in D.C. that fights poverty and homelessness.
“At SOME, I work on our overall messaging and how we can reach people. We have various communications campaigns to promote awareness of SOME and what we do. We are the second largest human services provider in D.C. and always want to figure out ways we can expand our reach and help even more people.
“I chose this field because I enjoy connecting with people no matter where they are on their journey. Homelessness is a special cause to me as many of these people have felt invisible their whole lives. I want to let them know that we are here for them. When people come into SOME, they are offered a full-service continuum that is a comprehensive program designed to help our most vulnerable neighbors. People are first attracted to our dining room, but we also offer services such as affordable housing, medical care and employment training. Seeing people emerge from the continuum with steady employment and a place to lay their heads at night makes brings me joy.
“I am learning the need to be careful in how we represent the populations for which we advocate. For a long time, society has called people experiencing homelessness, homeless people. Our job is to let people know that homelessness is temporary instead of a permanent state. In the era of instant gratification, we always think that we’re behind in jobs, life, and relationships. In my profession today, I work with people that are 45 and people that are 25. It’s not about WHEN you finish, it’s THAT you finish.
“My professors at Asbury helped me create my own communications campaigns, making me competitive in job hunting arena. The tight-knit community I experienced taught me integrity and a solid code of ethics. However, the most influential person there was my basketball coach. He told our team that his job was to make us good men first, and good basketball players second. Every day, I had professors encouraging me to be my best self.
“You are exactly where you are supposed to be in your journey. It’s not about when you finish, it’s that you finish. It’s a marathon not a race.”
Tyler Ogden ’16
Physician, United States Air Force
Tyler Ogden ’16, a biochemistry major, is currently stationed in San Antonio, Texas, for post-graduate training through the Air Force after graduating from medical school last year. He is serving as a general medical officer and will begin training in ophthalmology in July of 2022.
“I chose to go into medicine to use my love for science and problem solving to help individuals through direct interaction (as opposed to helping people indirectly through research). I was drawn to ophthalmology in the interest of helping people maintain their vision, which many people consider the most precious of the senses.
“In the Air Force, there is a great opportunity to serve my country as a physician, caring for the men and women who put their lives on the line for our nation’s security. The military offers scholarship programs to pay for medical school with an active duty service commitment incurred equal to the time spent in medical school.
“In the short 8 months of practice as an intern physician, I have learned a lot about patient care, but of course there is much more to learn. Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned is how to effectively communicate with patients. This is an important aspect of care that is often neglected due to the business of medicine, but it is one of the most important factors from a patient point of view. Too often patients receive great care but are left wondering what exactly happened to them and what was/is being done for them.
“Asbury provided an excellent foundation in basic sciences, and my higher-level science courses gave me a great head-start for my first two years of medical school. The small class sizes made direct interaction with professors much easier and more personal, allowing for great mentorship and very personalized letters of recommendation for my medical school applications. The friendships I formed while at Asbury are by far the best part of my experience, and I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything.
“My best advice would be to always give the task at hand your best effort and be willing to reach out to others for help and advice. Receiving a higher education is time consuming and difficult, but it is also a great time to explore what life has to offer and invest in relationships that can last a lifetime.
“Asbury offers a unique educational experience focused both on students educational and spiritual development. It offers a close-knit community that still manages to be diverse and enlightening. I greatly benefited from my time there, and I would recommend attending there.”
Tommy Otley ’17
Exercise Science major
Physical Therapist, Duke University Health
Tommy Otley ’17, an exercise science major with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of North Georgia, works as a sports physical therapy resident with Duke University Health. He provides clinical services at their sports outpatient clinic for various athletic injuries and work closely with Duke’s orthopedic surgeons for post-operative rehabilitation. As part of the residency, he also provides training room and on-field sports medicine coverage for local high schools and Duke Athletics.
“Working as a physical therapist for high-level athletes is my dream. It pairs my interests in human performance and injury management. When I was a junior at Asbury, I was a passenger in a car accident that took me out of swimming for several months due to a broken rib and collapsed lungs. I had already planned on pursuing a career in physical therapy, but this allowed me to experience the return to sport process firsthand. My experience working with the physical therapists, athletic trainers, and team physician to return to swimming sparked my interest in the sports setting and working as part of an interdisciplinary sports medicine team.
“Next year I will be continuing my time at Duke Athletics. I was selected for the 2021-22 Division I Sports Fellowship, where I will work and travel with Duke football in the fall and then with soccer, basketball, and the other Olympic sports in the spring.
“I find a lot of fulfillment in helping athletes return to doing what they love as well as performing at their optimal ability. I enjoy creative problem solving and collaborating with other sports medicine staff members to help our athletes achieve their goals.
“Working as a physical therapist for high-level athletes is my dream. It pairs my interests in human performance and injury management. I find a lot of fulfillment in helping athletes return to doing what they love as well as performing at their optimal ability. I enjoy creative problem solving and collaborating with other sports medicine staff members to help our athletes achieve their goals.
“One lesson I am frequently drawn back to is the importance of interpersonal skills and communication. The ability to communicate with others effectively is tremendously valuable in sports medicine. In sports, the ultimate goal of the team is to win. As a physical therapist, I often walk the line between managing the players’ well-being and availability to contribute to the team’s goal to win. The sports medicine staff members often have to say no or share injury news that the coaches and players don’t want to hear. Building trust from the beginning is a must so that each party knows you understand their perspective and have the best interest of the player and team in mind.”
Tommy’s Asbury experience developed his passion as a lifelong learner, and the liberal arts foundation made him a better collaborator with individuals from other disciplines. “Learning and collaborating with people from other disciplines at Asbury laid an excellent foundation for approaching my work with other colleagues in similar professions.
“Show up and show effort. Be flexible and resilient as you encounter new opportunities. Demonstrate your commitment, drive, and willingness to learn. This past year, I was tested on the value of this approach. Due to the covid pandemic, most of the high schools I would have been providing sports coverage did not have a fall season this past year. Duke’s faculty and athletic medicine staff was very accommodating and offered me the opportunity to work with Duke’s teams as an alternative. Working in collegiate athletics was a big jump from what I was expecting from residency, but it was a fantastic opportunity to learn and practice at the Division I level. I showed up, was present and available, and consistently did tasks people would prefer not to do but were essential to the team. I built trust and was given additional responsibilities in turn. I now assist with athlete rehab and manage player load monitoring and performance data for Duke Men’s Soccer. So, my encouragement is to have an open mind even when unexpected things occur and proactively seek opportunities to provide value.
“Asbury offers an excellent environment to develop as a student, athlete, and person. I believe strongly in the value of a Christian liberal arts education and establishing both width and depth in your experiences. Asbury’s faculty are highly esteemed and are committed to your success and development as a learner and, most importantly, your growth as an individual follower of Christ.”
Clara Quade ’20
Equine Studies major
Customer Service Representative, Rood & Riddle Veterinary Pharmacy
Clara Quade ’20, is a customer representative at Rood & Riddle Veterinary Pharmacy.
“After training horses and giving lessons, I find management and the medical side of the equine industry the most interesting. A few years ago, I helped manage the farm of one of the vets at the Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital and learned a lot about veterinary and medical practices. That position opened the door to Rood & Riddle, where learning about the pharmaceutical side of things seemed like an interesting next step. This position provides a stable position for me and my horse as I work towards increasing my client base to grow my business in private lessons and training.
“I am learning to work in an area that is not what I want to do long term, but I am finding parts of it that fulfill my desire to help people and that will deepen my knowledge and skills. There is great value in building a strong network. You never know what contacts someone may have when you introduce yourself to them.
“I thought after graduation I would try to work my way into farm management and maybe train a horse on the side, even though training was my dream. Throughout my time at Asbury, a professor began challenging that idea and encouraging me to consider fully following my dream of training. Through this process, I learned how much I love teaching and helping people pursue their dreams. Thanks to this encouragement, I am wholeheartedly pursuing my dream of starting a business to teach people and train horses, one day at a time.
“I would say to our current students, invest in your education. Be intentional about what you are learning, even when it does not seem applicable to what you want to do. Learn as much as you can to better equip yourself. At Asbury, you will find faculty who really care about you, not just as a student, but also as a person. They invest in your learning and your future. The Asbury network spreads all throughout the world, and through them you can gain invaluable contacts and insight into the industry you want to enter.”
Katie Rutledge ’18
English and Literature major
Secondary English Teacher, Heritage International School
Katie Rutledge ’18, an English and Literature major, is a secondary English teacher at Heritage International School in Kampala, Uganda.
“I teach English class like most people in the U.S. would remember it, studying texts like The Great Gatsby, Things Fall Apart, and Romeo and Juliet. I knew I wanted to be in a profession where I could help and love on people, while talking about things I love. Teaching helps me to do all those things. I said yes to an International School after visiting some of my Asbury friends in Korea. The diversity and atmosphere of an international community was (and is) very compelling.
“My students bring me such joy and it is a privilege to teach them. We provide education to students from more than 35 different nations around the world. Each one of those students comes with their own amazing personality and culture behind them. I learn so much from them each day. Being a teacher has helped me develop my compassion and my patience. I’ve learned how to advocate for others and when it is necessary to step back. For me, teaching is about encouragement, reminding students of their value and showing them how to do the same for others.
“Asbury helped me find my passion for literature and for loving other people. The same people I visited in Korea were professors who helped me realize that I wanted to teach internationally. I don’t think I would be where I am if it were not for their mentorship.
“My professors, both in my major and outside of it, represented what I hoped to become as a teacher. They showed me that you can teach a student more when you have a relationship with them. They taught me that I had value despite my achievement in certain areas (I was never an amazingly gifted English literature nor Latin student), and that is a lesson I have brought with me into my job.”
“If you have prayed about it, researched it, and thought thoroughly about it, then go for it! Don’t be afraid to move places you’ve never been or try an adventure in a new vocation. Enjoy the beauty in this life that God has given you.”
Tim Shell ’18
Assurance Associate, Calvetti Ferguson
Tim Shell ’18, an accounting major, is an assurance associate with Calvetti Ferguson, a mid market CPA firm in TX.
“My route to accounting was somewhat non-traditional, believing I would have no interest in this area. However, through my experience in the classroom and with advice from multiple mentors, I identified public accounting as a field of interest and have enjoyed this decision. What started out as a job right after college, led to an opportunity to join Calvetti Ferguson as they were building out their Dallas Assurance practice. Public accounting has provided me the opportunity to truly understand the value of servant leadership at a professional level as well as provide me the opportunity to develop the skills associated with the characteristic of this quality.
“So many professors have impacted me while at Asbury, even those outside of my major. One of my favorite classes at Asbury was Dr. Strait’s Shakespeare class that I took spring of my senior year. I don’t meet many accounting students who tell me they took a Shakespeare course, but this truly was one of my favorite courses overall and an example of the unique opportunities a liberal arts university provides. Asbury helped me develop soft skills that are so key within the business environment, especially in the sphere of client services. I am grateful for the unique relationships that I continue to value and develop that began in college.
Hayley Sledge ’20
Computational Mathematics and Spanish double major
Mathematician, Department of Defense, USAF
Hayley Sledge ’20, a computational mathematics and Spanish double major is a civilian mathematician for the US Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine.
“I currently work as a civilian mathematician for the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine. More specifically, my team and I provide analytical and operational support on DoD-wide consultations relevant to the Aerospace and Operational Medicine Enterprise (AOME). This involves collection and analysis of data, written and visual reports, research publications, technical reviews, and experiment design. The subject of the problem varies depending on the consultation request, but some of the AOME projects I have worked on include longitudinal studies of pilot neck and back pain, intervention studies on USAF suicide prevention, and USAF COVID-19 modeling. I love what I do.
“An internship at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base the summer after my junior year led to this position. The successful completion of this internship (thanks to Dr. Coulliette ’81, Meg Hull ’20 and God’s grace) meant I would be offered a permanent position with the USAF and enter the Palace Acquire training program, covering student loan repayments and payment for a master’s degree, depending on the career field. In August, I will be a full-time student in the master’s program in Applied and Computational Mathematics in the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
“The road to graduating with a computational math degree from Asbury was not an easy one and was often marked with frustration and failure. The abstract nature of math can tend to confuse those who attempt to master it; however, one thing that brings me joy in this vocation is the practical, applied nature of the work that I do. Curiosity, ingenuity, creativity, and a willingness to keep learning are essential to entering a career in math. The ability to take mathematical concepts that, for so much of my education, seemed more like question-marks than formulas and apply them to improve human performance across the DoD is joy-producing, not to mention humbling.
“My Asbury education was essential for my current vocation. There was the obvious – the computational math undergraduate degree is rigorous, and the professors are challenging. This set me up to be able to think critically and creatively about complex math problems that pop up in my daily work. Additionally, I believe the liberal arts education at Asbury has enabled me to communicate clearly, concisely, and effectively in my vocation, particularly when it comes to presenting to commanders and other high-ranking government officials or collaborating on a research paper we hope to publish. Finally, I would say the spiritual education Asbury provided me was grounded in THE Truth. This foundation is paramount to all the others, because without it, I dare say the rest of my work is in vain.
“My advice is to focus more on the process than the outcome. This applies to college, a job, your own personal development, and life in general. It’s easy to focus on the outcome, however, because this is often how we determine the value of something – it’s a lot harder to place a value label on a process.
“Asbury is a very intentional environment. The staff and faculty there are intentional about investing in students when it comes to their education, personhood, and spirituality. This isn’t for everyone – sometimes it can feel vulnerable and uncomfortable, but it is not without purpose. If you have a willing heart, Asbury will send you off a more empathetic, mature, and understanding individual, equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the vocational field of your choosing and essential biblical truths to ground you along the way.”
Bradley Strait ’15
Classical Languages and History double major
Attorney, Miller Edwards Rambicure, PLLC
Bradley Strait ’15, a classical languages and history double major, is an attorney with Miller Edwards Rambicure, PLLC, focusing on general civil litigation, with an emphasis on commercial litigation/business law. He finds great joy in helping his clients solve complex legal problems.
“My double major in Classical Languages and History helped lay the foundation for my legal education and career as an attorney. Much of my legal work consists of reading, writing, and engaging with rigorous texts and language. I have learned that there isn’t such a thing as being too prepared or organized. When you think you’re finished with a project, look again.”
While Bradley enjoys the complexities of law and litigation, he finds delight in building relationships with his colleagues and peers, as well as meeting new people. His time at Asbury provided an opportunity develop a certain well-roundedness and to cultivate meaningful connections.
“I believe that a robust education is as much about learning how to think as it is seeking to obtain knowledge.
“I would recommend Asbury because the university offers a rigorous liberal arts education within a community that helps develop a certain well-roundedness.”
Ian Tan ’19
Accounting major, Master’s of Accounting (Ohio State University)
Assurance Staff, EY (formerly Ernst & Young)
Ian Tan ’19, an Accounting major with a master’s in Accounting and working toward his CPA, is a public auditor at EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young), one of the world’s largest accounting firms. A third culture kid from China, he is a self-proclaimed foodie who enjoys hiking, climbing and reading – when there is free time! Growing up with a dad who was an accountant, he naturally never even considered accounting as a future career. He says, “it was just automatically excluded from my considerations.” However, after arriving at Asbury as a freshman and taking the core Accounting courses in the Business major, everything he learned just seemed to make sense and felt so natural that he was faced with the reality that accounting does run in his blood!
“I think the pivotal moment of when I decided that I wanted a future career in accounting for myself, however, was Junior year, when Larry Brown, chairman of the Board of Trustees, came and shared his own experiences with all the accounting majors at that time. In particular, he shared about how his career in accounting enabled him to reach and help people that he otherwise couldn’t have helped. That sentiment struck a chord with me that night, and I realized that God had indeed given me talents for accounting, and through those talents, I had an opportunity to be His light to others in the accounting world. That was the night that confirmed my decision to pursue a career in accounting.”
Asbury’s education was foundational in preparing Ian academically, intellectually, and spiritually for his current career. The emphasis on excellence and the importance of Christians operating within the business realm were incredibly impactful, continuing to shape the way he interacts with his job on a daily basis. “Going to work daily as an auditor goes beyond simply doing the tasks I am required to do – it is showing up and bringing excellence and modeling Christ-like behavior in everything I do.
“And to those students who are considering Asbury and the Dayton School of Business, If you are looking for a place that will seriously challenge you to grow, not just academically, but also spiritually and intellectually whilst being surrounded by a community of like-minded believers (who will become life-long friends!), I would suggest Asbury without a hint of a doubt.
“A lesson that I learned in college and have continued to learn is the importance of time management and tackling priorities. Knowing what my priorities are and sacrificing things that might have been great short-term “rewards” helped me to get through and achieve my goal of passing the CPA exam.”
Betsy Shifflett ’20 Thacker
Political Science and Philosophy double major
JD/MBA Student, Case Western Reserve University
Betsy Shifflett ’20 Thacker, a student at Case Western Reserve University and Weatherhead School of Management, is working on her law degree and MBA at the same time. An avid lover of writing, reading and research, Betsy has found that the study of law, business law in particular, sits well at the intersection of those interests. While graduate school has been extremely stressful, she has enjoyed being stretched in her skills and finding success in this endeavor. Asbury prepared her well for law school.
“My involvement at Asbury has been critical in terms of my growth in areas such as communication and interpersonal skills. My professors pushed me to set a high standard for myself regarding writing, research and critical thinking. Dr. Penner’s course entitled ‘Believing Responsibly’ has been an extremely practical toolkit for how to use epistemology in my everyday endeavors.
“In the next decades, new jobs and skills will arise that we can’t yet comprehend. Even in established fields, like law, old methods are being evolved into new subfields. So when you look at where you want to go to school, it may be helpful to pay attention to employment rates and LSAT/MCAT scores, and so on, but these are limited in how they truly describe a school. Rather, I would suggest examining the ‘fit’ of a school. For me, Asbury offered me the ability to combine a variety of subjects into exactly what I needed, while doing so under the guidance of extremely qualified and competent advisors. This is rare at a lot of schools, especially in terms of individual investment from professors. Critical thinking, research skills, and creativity will outlast the allegedly more ‘concrete’ skills many of schools boast.
“I have learned not to be afraid to ask for help. In general, people want to help you get where you want to go, so don’t be afraid to make and utilize connections. As well, I have found that one of the most important ways to represent the Christian faith is to strive for excellence. Caring enough to show up and bring your ‘A’ game is not as common as you might think.”
Colin Toth ’20
Marketing and Ancient Languages double major
Marketing Intern, Multitek
Master’s in Marketing Research program at University of Texas
Colin Toth ’20 is a full-time student in the Master’s in Marketing Research program at University of Texas, a marketing intern with Multitek and the marketing coordinator at Grace Lutheran Church. He chose this field of study because of an affinity for analytics inspired by Dr. Kevin Brown (former professor, now President of Asbury University). He believes that research and data analysis can drive a more competitive, value laden economy by helping businesses of all sizes make informed decisions.
He is on a mission to help small businesses gain a leg up on industry leaders by bringing research and analytics to an affordable level.
“I believe that this will drive competition and create a more equitable economy for both businesses and consumers. The joy I derive from this is the impact that even simple analytical tools can have for small businesses, and how I can educate and bring value to those organizations.”
His liberal arts background gave him experience that has become very important in his current line of work.
“Being able to deconstruct the meaning of literature and other cultural artifacts has been a very powerful tool for building marketing messages – one I would not have gained without the cross-training functions of Asbury’s liberal arts program. Having the freedom to research and report on any topic in the ancient world in my capstone course allowed me to explore and enjoy what I was learning. In fact, my whole training in Ancient Languages allowed me to better appreciate beauty in many forms: linguistic, architectural, poetic, etc.”
Asbury equipped Colin with the knowledge to help small businesses before he even graduated. The foundation provided for him, particularly in his walk of faith, has been an indispensable lifeline through these challenging days. “Asbury was a place of growth for me, and I cherish that time I had there.
“Transitioning into adult life, especially during the pandemic, has been extremely difficult. The foundation provided for me at Asbury, particularly in my walk of faith, has been an indispensable lifeline for me through these challenges. I cannot imagine going through setbacks and difficulties of this life without God and a relationship with Him. Asbury was a place of growth for me, and I cherish that time I had there. I would strongly recommend Asbury as an investment in your future beyond job skills.”
Kaylee Van Winkle ’19
Marketing Major/Equine Studies major
Account Manager, International Paper
Kaylee Van Winkle ’19, an account manager for International Paper, has invested herself in her new community after college by finding her place in a local church and continuing her competition in equestrian sports, such as dressage and eventing. “The community I have found in my local church has been so life-giving. Work keeps me busy but I have loved finding ways to be involved in the local community.”
She was introduced to International Paper through a sales competition she attended (and placed) while at Asbury. She chose the sales career because of the potential to consistently pour into people’s lives and serve them in a way that replicates Jesus’ character. Building relationships with companies and individuals to help provide them with solutions is an exciting challenge and the opportunity to provide innovations to creatively meet needs brings her joy. She also cares deeply about creation care and being in a field that puts action behind their words of valuing sustainability is thrilling and fulfilling for her.
“I rely heavily on my Asbury experience every day, not just in my business acumen, but in being able to meet people where they are and build relationships that are empowering and supportive. Asbury taught me to be strong in my foundation and yet agile in my connections.
“In classes and on the sales team, I thought I was learning how to sell from my professor, Dr. George Allen. Now that I am in the marketplace, I have realized that Dr. Allen was actually preparing me to be an effective communicator of the Gospel in the midst of business deals. Dr. Kevin Brown changed my view of the power that is held in daily decisions. These daily choices shape myself and those around me and cumulate to create a life that is a living example of the Gospel.
“Learn to move forward without answers. God doesn’t operate with a floodlight for your future so stay consistent in taking the next step forward in faith and know that His grace is big enough to protect you. Seek His guidance, own your mistakes, and be grateful for every day! The people you meet and relationships you build will encourage you, support you, and challenge you to view the world through someone else’s eyes. The Truth spoken and lived is empowering and edifying and the education received in the process prepares you to make an impact in the world.”
Jonathan Waterman ’18
Business and Sports Management major
Baseball Analyst, AVM Systems
Jonathan Waterman ’18, a business and sports management major, works for a baseball analytical company who has contracts with two different MLB teams. He watches and analyzes baseball games, gathering player rankings for these two teams.
“I’m able to work from home so this allows me to spend time with my son, Cooper, during the day. This has been a blessing for our family and I’ve really enjoyed it! Watching baseball for a living is just a lot of fun for me. Recently, my company started working in the Korean baseball league so I get to see firsthand the differences of the game in Korea. In addition to this, I oversee the intramural program at Asbury. I’ve always had a passion for sports and sports ministry so both jobs allow me to do what I love – and they allow me the flexibility to be at home with my son.
“As the Intramural Coordinator, I am reminded of the importance of investing in college students. Relationships with adults, especially in sports, are so important. I had several faculty and staff that played a formative role in my life while at Asbury and I hope to have the same Godly influence on the students I work with in Intramurals.
“The Asbury community and friends I met at Asbury had a huge influence on my faith and who I am today. Asbury clearly puts God at the center of all they do. I strongly believe the education I received was well worth it and the faculty at Asbury want you to succeed, both at Asbury and after you graduate.
“Enjoy your time at Asbury and really seek after meaningful relationships with friends, along with the faculty and staff. There are so many great things you can get involved in at Asbury so I encourage you to find something you enjoy doing and do it! Don’t miss out on all the great opportunities to grow in your faith through small groups and other ministry opportunities. This will have a huge impact on your relationship with God.”
Sharayah Jung ’13 Whelchel
Physical Therapist, Select Medical
Sharayah Jung ’13 Whelchel, a psychology major AND new mom, is currently the lead physical therapist at a long-term acute care hospital in Kentucky called Select Specialty Hospital. The facility specializes in ventilator weaning and wound care in a population of patients who have been hospitalized for weeks, if not months, already.
“Believe it or not, I originally chose PT as my profession through a few career counseling sessions at Asbury. I knew I loved science and working with people but wanted to avoid the chronic stress of making daily life or death decisions. At the time I chose physical therapy, I was working toward my psychology major that I had chosen because I loved my PSY 101 general education course. Since no specific undergraduate degree is required to go to PT school, I kept my major and have never regretted my choice as it has made me a well-rounded therapist.
“I love seeing the progress my patients make because of the skill set I have and the work that we do together. From barely being able to open their eyes to walking down the hallway independently, I feel like I am witnessing miracles all the time. My psychology degree has helped immensely with this since therapy is only truly successful in patients who have some degree of mental buy-in. I spend about 80% of my time educating, encouraging, persuading, coaching, and comforting my patients. Which I love! Even though the days are long and hard, I have found such joy in being the hands and feet of Christ in this way.
“As a go-getter, I am constantly humbled by the fruitlessness of my efforts when they are apart from God. The mind-body connection is very real and very binding. If my patients don’t think they can recover, then they won’t, at least not as quickly as those who do believe they can recover. If there is depression, anxiety, hopelessness or resistance, I must treat those things first or in conjunction with the physical ailments, as well. I pray for my patients daily, whether with them or by myself. While I am not a counselor or psychologist, I am able to incorporate what I learned in my undergraduate major and utilize my faith to point my patients in the right direction.
“My general education classes directed my vocational decision and have set me apart as a wholistic and diversified PT. I am better able to adapt my language from communicating with a physician to communicating with a patient or family member because of my hands-on experience at Asbury. We are set apart, as not only those who have a liberal arts education, but as those who are devoted to furthering the kingdom of God. It’s hard to remember that when you’re surrounded by others who have the same or similar experiences in school but trust me when I say that we are the exception in the work force. Don’t take your unique background and work ethic for granted. Let the Lord use it for His glory.
“Asbury truly changed my life. I spent more time in hands-on learning, being mentored, developing my mind, and strengthening my relationship with God than I think I would have elsewhere. The community is phenomenal, and the opportunities are endless. Take every opportunity you can to develop your skills, learn a new skill, step outside your comfort zone, experience different cultures, take charge of a project, or expand your understanding of the world.”
Abby Witt ’17
Media Communications & Journalism and Digital Storytelling major
Content Producer, The PGA TOUR
Abby Witt ’17, content producer for The PGA TOUR, says that media and sports broadcasting chose her as her fascination with this field began at a young age. She was just wired to love it and is working her dream job for the PGA TOUR, producing TV shows for Golf Channel, NBC and CBS. She works first-hand with the greatest athletes in sports and is having the time of her life traveling around to host sites. Having the opportunity to tell stories requires developing relationships and building trust with the athletes she features.
“This opportunity has allowed me to get to know so many people who are from different walks of life than me. It has allowed me to learn about more about people and cultures, while sharpening my lens of the world. At Asbury, I worked at the 2016 Olympic Games. While there, I met people who helped me get to The PGA TOUR because of the networking this opportunity provided. Not only did this allow me to connect with the right people, but the skills I learned at Asbury University helped me excel in my profession. Who you know will get your foot in a door, but your skills and talent are what will get you a seat at the table.
“I am grateful for the impact of my professors who believe in me and continue to invest in me. They truly care and want to see their students excel.
“If you want to build the best version of you – go to Asbury. This doesn’t just mean professionally but personally. The people you’ll surround yourself with at Asbury are people that will help you grow into the absolute best person you could be.”
Paula Diaz ’16 Willison
Social Media Manager, Samaritan’s Purse
Paula Diaz ’16 Willison, a journalism major, was born in Colombia, South America and raised in Georgia. She became a naturalized American citizen last year and is looking forward to the time when she can put her new passport to use!
“Through a chance meeting while working at Asbury’s Career and Calling Center, I was introduced to Samaritan’s Purse, where I interned for two summers: internationally in 2014 as a General Intern in Bolivia, and domestically at their International Headquarters in 2015. I was hired at the end of my second internship and returned shortly after graduation as a Social Media Specialist. The Lord closed a lot of doors and opened even more windows to opportunities I could have never imagined for myself.
“It really is such a privilege to work for an organization like Samaritan’s Purse, that goes to the ends of the Earth to help people suffering from war, disease, famine, or disaster in Jesus’ Name. Though my role isn’t specifically on the field on a day-to-day basis, there is pride in knowing that the content shared on our social media platforms is reaching millions of people for awareness and more importantly, for prayer.”
Paula has enjoyed the team she works with and notes that flexibility is the key in a 24/7 job like social media. “My current vocation feels like a really happy mix of both my major (journalism) and minors (public relations and Spanish) at Asbury. I have been able to implement so much of what learned into my day-to-day role, specifically in writing on behalf of someone/something other than myself.
“Asbury gave ME, an immigrant and former DACA recipient, the opportunity to achieve part of my American Dream. They offered scholarship opportunities, professors that trained me up for my career, and support staff that pushed me toward the future God had laid out for me—no matter how many times I failed to see what was in store.
“If you are a current student, be open to any and all opportunities that God might have for you while at Asbury! And especially take advantage of the university’s internship fairs and the resources offered by the Career and Calling Center—they could lead you to the internship or job of a lifetime.
“If you are a young alum, never be afraid to seek guidance from those around you. Sometimes that alone is all we need as we figure out what the next step might be in our careers.”
Sarah George ’17 Woodard
Elementary Education major
5th Grade Teacher, Jessamine County Schools
Sarah George ’17 Woodard is an elementary education major who teaches 5th Grade math at the same school where she completed her student teaching.
“I believe teaching is one of the most rewarding vocations. Witnessing a struggling child make connections with what they are learning and how proud they are of themselves for this discovery, that brings me joy. Knowing that my job isn’t just to teach children, but also to remind them how capable, resilient, and loved they are, this is so compelling. I love that I get to be a part of a child’s journey through life as they learn and grow.
“After almost four years of teaching, I still feel like I am constantly learning something new! One of the biggest lessons that I have learned from my teaching experience is how important it is to be yourself. Children appreciate when you are real with them. Being my genuine self has allowed me to build trust with my students.
“At Asbury, my professors knew me well enough to find teachers that would encourage my strengths but also push me to improve. While it seemed intimidating at the time to jump right into a classroom as a freshman, it really was a wonderful opportunity that you don’t get at every school. Each year, I had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time in the “real-world” classroom setting, observing, participating, and teaching. The lessons I learned as a student provided the basis for how I manage my classroom today.
“Trust God. Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us to ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’ As you follow God’s will for your life, He will open some doors wide and slam others shut! Trust that He has a plan for you, even if you can’t see it yet or don’t know what it is.
“One of the biggest factors that led me to attend Asbury was the community. Community within your dorm hall, community with any organizations you join, like the Salvation Army Student Fellowship, which I was a part of. Community with the other students in your major classes. The small population encourages that intimate community feeling—I personally loved the fact that each of my professors were able to get to know me so well, and even still keep in touch after having graduated several years ago! As much as I would love for everyone to attend Asbury and enjoy their experience there as much as I did, listen to God and go where he leads you.”
Todd Yoder ’16
Computational Mathematics and Recreation double major
Applied Math PhD Candidate, Colorado School of Mines
Todd Yoder ’16, a computational mathematics and recreation double major, is a full-time grad student at Colorado School of Mines and is teaching Probablity and Statistics for Engineers at Mines. An avid outdoorsman, he and his wife have enjoyed camping, hiking and snowboarding while in CO. Having recently completed his Master’s in Statistics, he will complete his PhD in Applied Mathematics this May.
“Discovering the systems God put in place is exciting. Mathematics illuminates new aspects of the intricacies in creation. Additionally, the constant challenges in math keep me on my toes, which makes the work interesting and fun.”
His Asbury experience taught him the value of working hard for his education. “Dr. Dave Coulliette, professor of Mathematics, tells students that every mathematician reaches a point where the math no longer comes naturally and that the learning requires real effort. Hitting this point during college made me take ownership of my learning, and by needing to work hard for my progress, I not only grew individually—I also valued the education I gained more.
“Trent Ellsworth, professor of Adventure Leadership, likes to say that misery is a choice. I have relearned this lesson several times during grad school. I don’t always have much control over my circumstances, but I get to choose how I respond to each situation. When I go into a tough night of studying with a good attitude, it makes the work more bearable and much more productive.
“And keep your head up when starting in a new and challenging setting. My first year of graduate school was filled with imposter syndrome. After getting to know my peers more, I realized many of them also felt undeserving to be in grad school. Talking through these worries helped us realize we were all in the same boat.”