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November 2021

AF Veteran aims to lift fellow black veterans

He may have several degrees, a heritage of Air Force service and an unquenchable passion to help others. But Dr. Xavier Bruce (aka Dr. X) remembers well a time that wasn’t necessarily the case.

“Back in 2011, I was an active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force. At the time, I was dealing with several stressful situations at once with no guidance or mentorship on how to deal with them,” he recalls. “I had the stress of a rocky marriage, raising a son with autism, struggling through the doctoral dissertation process, and experiencing rocket attacks while deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan - all at the same time.”

For Dr. X, his desperation led him to dig into research and materials to help him find the inner

Dr. Xavier Bruce
Dr. X with his uplift logo

strength he knew he had and the healthy practices to take control over his roller-coaster ride of emotions and, ultimately, his entire life. 

And now, he’s hoping to pass that knowledge on to other black veterans so they can rise up and overcome to be the successful and confident individuals he knows they can become. By day, the retired lieutenant colonel is a military contractor. But Dr. X is also the founder and CEO of both a for-profit coaching business, called Uplift Energy Coaching, and its nonprofit counterpart, Uplift In-Powerment.

“We are working with Black veterans on learning self-leadership skills to uplift themselves. That’s not to say that you stop praying or asking for help, but how do you get yourself to a point energetically to alleviate the stress associated with your life transitions?” explained Dr. X, who earned his MBA from the Wichita Falls campus in 2004 during his first duty station as an Air Force Second Lieutenant.

Empowering veterans

A native of Lake Village, Arkansas, Dr. X lives in the Baltimore area near where he retired after several moves with the Air Force, two deployments to Afghanistan, and a stint with the Defense Logistics Agency in Philadelphia. Living in the area allows him to be close to many veterans who call the Baltimore/District of Columbia region their home.

“I started a nonprofit because I kept getting feedback on what I was doing really lent itself to nonprofit work. We started Uplift In-Powerment to help veterans overcome the façade they put up,” he added. “Veterans sometimes act like we are squared away and we are dressed right, and we’re not. FACADE is an acronym we use for Fitness, Awareness, Connectedness, Anxiety, Depression and Energetic Self-Perception.”

Through his seminars and other events, Dr. X is able to work with veterans on these key issues and show them a better approach to overcoming stress and becoming productive citizens. And in true veteran fashion – Dr. X jokes, “if it’s not an acronym, it doesn’t exist in the military” – he has several helpful acronyms that help his clients work through the process.

“We knew that we needed to work from the inside out. When you look at the different types of

Dr. X, in the military
Dr. X during his military years

stress and anxiety that people have, in general, it starts in the mind. Everything that exists was manifested from a thought first” he explained. “There are six types of stress that MESS UP the way we show up. That’s an acronym for Mental, Emotional, Spiritual, Social, Universal, and Physical. Most of our problems, issues and activating events and triggers come from the first two. First, you have a thought and that thought affects your emotions. When you look at that holistic way of approaching our lives, we say that helps identify the problem and the energy block in one or more of those six areas.”

Dr. X also says that evaluating one’s energy levels will help them determine what can move them to a higher level and become more productive. Often low energy will cause a vicious cycle of anxiety and depression that will keep someone low and unable to fully function. That’s why the physical aspect is also vital to examine, Dr. X says.

“We want to get to the root cause, but we know that veterans will put on a façade. When you have that mental and emotional stress, it can cause physical fitness issues,” he says. “When you were in the military, it doesn’t matter what you’re going through; you still have to take the physical fitness test twice a year. Once you retire… the more you get out of shape and that can lead to mental and emotional issues.”

Creating a safe space

Dr. X is passionate about helping Black veterans because as one himself, he understands the unique struggles that are being faced and often not dealt with correctly. Because of the narrow focus, he says the people who most need his help will feel more comfortable and accepted.

“You need to get together with people on issues you can talk about among each other and not feel like you’re being judged. It’s a similar model for our work. It’s a safe space to talk about the disparities. This diversity and equity and inclusion hasn’t been around very long,” says Dr. X. “When our Black veterans came back from Vietnam, they had organizations they could join then, but you can only imagine the tension that was there 50 years ago. Fast forward to 2021, and we still have these veterans out there and they are lonely, they don’t have anyone to share their stories with, they don’t have the camaraderie and the esprit de corps that they miss.

“We are creating a space for Black veterans – male and female – to rebuild that camaraderie, to get what they need in terms of their benefits, because many were not able to do that years ago. There was systemic discrimination and racism that did not allow our veterans to get their VA benefits. We want to be more of an advocate, to be their voice when they don’t have a voice. To help them get the benefits they are entitled to… many were shut out and just gave up.”

A multi-pronged approach

Uplift In-Powerment works with all ages, and Dr. X is hoping to introduce more in-person events soon for veterans to gather and network to build those healthy relationships he knows will be part of their healing process. With COVID hitting just as he was launching the nonprofit, the group had to try some virtual events to get started. But just like other groups, he found the response was less than enthusiastic to the online model and he’s grateful to finally be able to launch face-to-face efforts.

As another key to his help for veterans, Dr. X helped charter a Western Maryland chapter of the National Association for Black Veterans, shortened NABVETS. Similar to the VFW, American Legion,

Bruce book cover
Dr. X's latest book

and DAV, NABVETS is an accredited Veterans Service Organization so they can help clients file claims into the system and find other assistance they may need. Now, Dr. X is the Region V Commander of the National Association of Minority Veterans, shortened NAMVETS.  Region five includes states along the east coast of the United States, including; Maryland, Washington D.C, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, and New Hampshire.  

With all these arrows in his quiver, Dr. X is more than prepared to be a full resource for veterans needing help. They need only reach out.

“We are putting ourselves out there in three ways and asking ‘what resonates with you the most’… we want to be the go-to place whether they need self-leadership skills, ideas on fitness or need to get my claim in the system and feel they are not getting respected,” he says.

Dr. X and his wife Alisa have a blended family with four grown children. They are currently building a new home in Columbia, Md.

Besides his services, Dr. X has published a book for military members transitioning out of the service, titled Uplift Your Damn Self: A Black Veteran’s Guide to In-Powerment, a complementary workbook titled Self-Leadership in Transition; and his newest book, 1 Habit of the World’s Greatest Leaders. All are available on Amazon.


Alumni Board announces Distinguished Alumni honorees

The Wayland Baptist University Alumni Association announced 6 individuals to be honored with Distinguished Alumni Awards for 2021, to be recognized during the homecoming weekend set for Feb. 18-19, 2022.

The Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented to four individuals: Dr. Nelson Hayashida, Dr. Glenda Payas, Dr. Emily Smith and Dr. Gabriel Trujjillo. In addition, Wayland will honor a Distinguished Young Alumnus, Mr. Johnny Terra, and Distinguished Benefactors Dr. Ken and Mrs. June Mattox.

A 1970 graduate, Dr. Nelson Hayashida has spent a career in various aspects of ministry, from

Award plaques
Award plaques from 2020

being a missionary to Zambia and a professor of missions to a chaplain for medical organizations. He earned master’s degrees from Baylor and Golden Gate Seminary and doctoral degrees from Southern Seminary, the University of Edinburgh and the University of South Africa, in addition to clinical pastoral education training. A resident of California, Dr. Hayashida has authored four books and 20 articles and was a religion writer for the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

Dr. Glenda Payas earned her WBU degree in 1969, then continued with a master’s degree from New Mexico Highlands and her Doctor of Dental Medicine from Oral Roberts University. She retired in 2017 after a 28-year career in private dental practice in Tulsa. She held dental leadership roles on the state and national level and was voted one of the top women in dentistry in 2011 and one of the top dentists in Oklahoma in 2012 among many other career accolades. She has done dental missions work and has generously supported Wayland, giving at least five endowed scholarships and contributing to several more.

Dr. Emily Smith has spent much of the pandemic years sharing her unique scientific perspective as “Friendly Neighborhood Epidemiologist” on social media, with more than 90,000 following along. Dr. Smith followed her 2003 bachelor’s degree at Wayland with a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina and a doctorate in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina. She currently has a dual faculty appointment with the Duke University School of Medicine and the Duke Global Health Institute, for which she has worked as a researcher for several years. She also does research for an NGO called Global Institute for Children’s Surgery.

Dr. Gabriel Trujillo embarked on a career in public school education after completing his bachelor’s degree in 1993 from Wayland and a Master of Education two years later. He spent eight years with the Plainview school district as an educator and principal before spending 12 years as a principal in Duncanville and nearly seven years in Grand Prairie in administration. In April 2002, he joined the Nacogdoches ISD as superintendent, where he oversees the work of 10 campuses serving 6,500 students.

Johnny Terra came to Wayland from Brazil to play basketball, arriving with little English. By the time he completed his eligibility, he had earned a bachelor’s degree in business (2011) as well as an MBA in accounting (2012). He became a CPA and worked for a Plainview firm, then at Happy State Bank before starting his own financial consulting and accounting firm. Recently he merged with an Amarillo firm to create LPT CPAs + Advisors. He and wife Aubrey, a 2014 WBU graduate and former Flying Queen, completed an endowed scholarship recently to assist other international students in earning a WBU degree like he did.

Dr. Ken Mattox earned his science degree in 1960 and recently retired after a 60-year career in surgical medicine, the last 31 as Chief of Staff for Ben Taub Geneneral Hospital in Houston. At the start of Wayland’s Impact 2020 campaign, Dr. Mattox and wife June announced a major gift commitment toward the improvements to Moody Science Building, which houses the School of Mathematics and Sciences that will be renamed in his honor upon completion. Groundbreaking for the work will be held in conjunction with Homecoming 2022 and the Mattoxes will be honored as Distinguished Benefactors.

The awardees are graduates of the Plainview campus. One of the four winners, along with the 2021 winners from each of the external campuses in the Wayland system, will comprise the ballot for Alumnus of the Year, voted on by previous winners of the awards. All will be recognized at the Blue & Gold Awards Banquet held Feb. 18, 2022, during homecoming in Plainview.

The complete Homecoming schedule is available on the alumni website. Contact the Alumni Office at (806) 291-3600 for more information.


Devotional: Remorse or repentance?

We have all had regrets about something we have done and said, or not. However, have we repented of these things? While reading through Matthew, the verses about Judas after his betrayal of Jesus had me wondering about Judas. In Matthew 27:3-10, Judas showed remorse and acted on it.

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? You shall see to it yourself!” 

And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and left; and he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them in the temple treasury, since it is money paid for blood.” And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the One whose price had been set by the sons of Israel; and they gave them for the Potters Field, just as the Lord directed me (NASB).

Angel in remorseWe may read this passage and wonder if Judas went to heaven when he died. We know he had remorse, but did he repent? An investigation of the two words seem they are interchangeable. The Greek word for “he felt remorse,” involves Judas’ changing his mind. He had regrets and wished he could alter things. But, does that mean he repented?

After all, he confessed to the chief priests that he had sinned against innocent blood. He returned the money—and this is someone who loved and stole money from the disciples’ treasury (John 12:6). These two actions seem to show that he had a change of heart.

However, we have two things in the passage context that appear to indicate he did not repent. He confessed to the chief priests, not to Jesus. He left and hanged himself rather than seek forgiveness or reconciliation with the Lord whom He had betrayed.

Surely, the word for “repentance” may involve a remorseful change of mind. However, it requires a change of behavior from the act of conversion. The regret Judas experienced did not take him to the very One who could have saved him. He did not see Jesus as his hope.

We may have a lot of remorse or regrets. Some do not require repentance. We just wish we had not said or done those things. However, when it comes to sins and our need to repent, remorse and regret do not get the job done. We must seek the Lord for forgiveness, restoration, and change in our hearts, minds, and behavior.

Dr. Sharon Gresham is a 1970 graduate of Wayland and is a resident fellow at B.H. Carroll Theological Institute. She speaks to women's groups, leads retreats and writes regularly on biblical topics. She and husband Benny, also a 1970 graduate and a retired pastor, live in Burleson, Texas.


From the History Files

This month's history recap continues a series about some of the historic buildings on the main campus in Plainview, where Wayland was founded in 1908.

FMT in the snow, circa 1990s

If walls could talk, there would be some stories for sure in the Fleming-Mays dormitory on the Wayland campus, home to many young women over the years.  The first part of the dorm opened in 1952, making it the oldest women's dorm still in use on the Plainview campus. 

The dorm originally was just Agnes Mays Hall, then Bessie Fleming Hall was built directly to the northwest of it and opened in 1957. Then the two were joined by a tower with three floors in between, creating one larger residence hall and the main entrance and lobby. The Fleming portion was given by Mr. and Mrs. William Fleming, with the W. A. Mays family providing the funding for that structure. The dorm features a traditional format with larger bathrooms on the halls for residents.

Ladies at the tower opening
Reception at tower opening

FMT, as it is known on campus, has a large lobby that received a makeover from the Sally Society several years ago, adding a modern look and all new furniture. It also features a kitchen and an apartment for the Residence Housing Supervisor to call home. 

In 2020 and 2021, due to the COVID pandemic, the dorm was used primarily for a quarantine dorm for students who tested positive to be able to remain on campus and complete their studies with delivered meals and healthcare services. 


Meet Your Alumni Board: Sarah Wallace

Sarah Wallace joined the Alumni Executive Board in August shortly after celebrating the graduation of her two sons from the Plainview campus. Marc and Christian, both education majors, followed their parents into the public school system, so now Sarah, husband Rodney and both their oldest children draw a paycheck from the Plainview ISD. 

True to the family's missional hearts, however, Sarah sees her work more like ministry and she

Wallace family
Sarah Wallace and her family.

takes the role of Instructional Dean/Assistant Principal at Plainview High seriously.

"I am the type of person that loves to reach out to people. God has given me the gift to build rapport with students and their families, coworkers and anyone that I cross paths with," says Sarah, who has spent 22 years in education, all in Plainview. "My prayer is that students will see my heart, and I hope I can inspire at least one person (I would love to inspire several) this school year."

Sarah's career has seen many changes, not only as the field has evolved and morphed -- anybody remember the remote-learning nightmare of 2020? -- but also as she has moved from classroom teacher into more leadership ranks. She went from an assistant principal at Thunderbird Elementary to the District Elementary Language Acquisition Instructional Coach and now to her current role, all in three years. All this has given her laser focus.

"The biggest challenge is that there is constant change, and I am learning to trust God even more. Even though I may not understand all the changes or the reasons why, HE does. So I really have to use my Faith and be obedient," says Sarah. "I do not give myself credit, but God has blessed me with certain gifts and I need to use them for HIS Glory."

Being part of the alumni board was one of those applications. As the mom of two recent graduates, she's had a lot of interaction on campus and knows many students and alumni in her roles both at work and at Happy Union Baptist Church, where she is children's church minister and Rodney serves on the pastoral staff.

"Building positive relationships and using my life story is a way that I can use ministry in the public setting," she says. "I just want to be real and let my actions reflect my Savior."