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April 2022

Alumna channels hurt into encouragement

Make no mistake. Alexia Bartholomew would not want to relive her childhood of abuse, followed by years of bad relationships. But as an adult, she can look back and be grateful for the lessons she learned through that pain and the personal growth she experienced.

And now, Alexia is channeling her pain and hurt into encouragement for others, both those who have experienced some of the same trauma and those who just need to hear positivity. A 2019Alexia Bartholomew graduate of the San Antonio campus, Alexia is a full-time graduate student at Liberty University. In her spare time, she is also an author and hosts a podcast called “Eagle of Encouragement.”

Alexia’s first foray into writing was a poem she wrote as a project for a psychology class. The poem, which she titled “I am an eagle, watch me soar,” mentioned some of her past hurts and her perseverance past that pain.

“I just started writing it, and it was like second nature,” Alexia recalled. “I read the poem in another class and one of my classmates told me later that they could relate to the experiences I mentioned. One was sexual abuse. I was glad that I could encourage someone and make them feel like they were not the only ones.”

Picking up the pen

Her pen was still for a few years, but then Alexia began writing out some prayers asking God for guidance in various areas. After a few took shape, she saw a pattern was forming and saw potential for more writing, thinking a poem or sermon was possible. When the prayers kept growing, she thought maybe a book was hiding in the content.

Alexia then took the prayers, added scriptures to each one and prepared to publish her first book, titled Father, Give me the Heart. At the encouragement of a church mentor, she added some of the backstory behind the prayers to give the book a little more “meat on the bone,” she said. She had offers to publish but no funding, so the book sat unprinted for a bit after being finished in 2018. A few years later after Alexia moved to San Antonio, she learned of Amazon’s Kindle Direct option to self-publish for no cost, and she took that opportunity in 2020.

The second book was birthed after a challenge issued by her pastor, who heard a radio interview she did about her first volume.

“I was at church and the pastor said ‘write that book, you haven't told the whole story.’ I knew sexual abuse would be the first topic hands down, but everything else I did not want to touch. But I knew it had to get done,” Alexia recalls.

The path to healing

At the end of the day, Alexia found that putting her thoughts on paper about the abuse was much different than sharing with a counselor about those experiences, of which she had done plenty. Her transparency – sharing both what happened to her and her own bad choices and role in some of the pain – eventually meant a deep recovery, though.

Father Give Me the Heart“I think it solidified my healing,” she said. “After the book got published, I read through the whole thing. I knew I was okay when I read it all and didn’t cringe or have low moments; I realized I did my part and that chapter was closed and I could move on.”

And while it’s never fun to rehash one’s pain or their part in it, Alexia said she knew the book had to be written because others needed to see the potential to pull through and heal like she did.

“It’s amazing when people say ‘I’ve been there.’ That’s when I know it was a good thing to write the book,” she said of You’re Not the Only One… that has been hurt, violated, abused and has Overcome. “It was my story. Those that need to read it can, and it’s been beautiful.”

Joy along the journey

A native of California, Alexia said she joined the Army at age 19 to get away from her painful past, finding an opportunity to travel, explore other cultures and grow up. In her seven years of service, she spent time in South Carolina, Virginia, Alaska, Kuwait and Iraq. When she got out, she knew she did not want to return to California, so she opted to stay in the Killeen area, enrolling in nearby University of Mary Hardin Baylor.

But soon she felt the call to move to San Antonio, and there she found a place of peace at Wayland to finish her bachelor’s degree. She started a master’s degree in education but decided she didn’t want to teach as a career and switched to an interdisciplinary studies degree with Liberty.

“One thing I loved about Wayland was the support and the understanding of the staff. One of the advisors really seemed to know where I was coming from,” she recalled. “The support system was so strong and it was a place I did not want to leave.”

Launched a few months ago on the Anchor app, her “Eagle of Encouragement” podcast features readings from her books, personal stories and anecdotes meant to encourage others who may be listening. Inspired by the “I Have a Dream” speech by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Alexia likes to focus on character and growth.

Alexia said she never would have expected to be able to encourage anyone given her history. So her new role has been a pleasant surprise.

“I never thought I’d be encouraging other people. But to be able to tell my story to people without fear or shame, that was important. Even though I don’t like what I went through, it came out for good,” she said. “You’re not going through hard times just for you but for someone else. Even when it’s self-inflicted, it can still help someone else to help them avoid those mistakes.”


Trainer alumnus honored for life-saving measures

Kyler Templeton might be a rich man if he had a dollar for every ankle he’s taped and ice bag he’s wrapped for a student at Monterey High School. As the head trainer there since 2018 – and four more years there as assistant trainer – the Wayland graduate sure had his share of experience doing both of those tasks.

But it was his deeper skills and training that came into play recently as Kyler came to the aid of a student’s grandparent at a Monterey game. During an afternoon in the gym, the elderly 

Templeton honored
LISD honors Templeton

gentleman suffered a cardiac arrest near the end of a junior varsity game. Kyler jumped into action, grabbing the Automatic Electric Defibrillator and preparing the victim for the shocks.

“It was one of those adrenaline moments,” noted Kyler, who said while he’d been trained on the AED, he’d never actually used one. “A travel nurse in the stands helped me, and we alternated compressions and delivered shocks for seven and a half minutes. We did about three rounds and three shocks, and on the third one we got him back. The EMS had just arrived on site.”

Stabilized by the pair, the EMTs then transported the grandfather, who made a full recovery and even had a visit with his lifesavers recently. The Lubbock Independent School District recognized Kyler as a hero for those efforts on Feb. 17.

“Training you can read in a book is helpful, but the hands-on experiences I was able to get at Wayland is what prepared me for that moment and the job itself,” said Kyler. “I didn’t have to start at the bottom but was able to jump right into the thick of things. As a student, I got to be in some of those emergency situations and I learned so much.”

Kyler Templeton MHS trainer
Kyler stretches an athlete.

Kyler came to Wayland to play baseball from his hometown of Stamford. From the beginning, he knew he wanted to study athletic training because of experiences as a high school athlete with a trainer he really admired. When he got involved in the program under Wayland’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science, he felt affirmed in that decision.

A few years later, Kyler earned his bachelor’s degree in 2014 and his trainer’s license just afterward. He took a job with Lubbock ISD immediately as an assistant at Monterey High School, a 5A school where he oversees the health and safety of 600 athletes.

“We see students at their lowest after an injury, and being able to help them back on the field or court is the most rewarding,” he says.

Kyler played second base for the Pioneers and served as a student trainer for several athletic teams while building his experiential hours and learning more about the field from the mentor trainers on staff at Wayland.

At WBU, the athletic training major requires 26 hours of coursework and an additional hour hours of apprenticeship coursework that culminates in the required cumulative hours of training. Once these are completed, the student is approved by the Texas Department of Health to sit for the state certification exam. Maintaining the license requires 40 hours of continuing education every two years for renewal.


Devotional: Hope in the "giving over"

Reading passages like Amos 1:6, 9; 6:8; Psalm 81:11-13; or Romans 1:24-32, we might sense hopelessness for how people can change from a life of disobedience or even further degradation. Amos’s passages declare that God would not revoke the punishment of nations that abused and enslaved the Jews. In Psalm 81:11-13, God’s desire was that His people would listen to and obey Him, but they continually defied Him. Romans 1:24-32 describes God‘s wrath against the ones who knew He was God but totally dishonored Him in every area of life and gave His glory to other beings or things. All these passages, then, deal with God’s “handing people over,” or giving them “custody” of their own life designs because they chose constantly to disregard His holiness and His plan.  

These Scriptures indicate that God delivered them due to the stubbornness of their hearts. TheCrucifix art impact of wanting to do their own thing without regard to God’s will and to continue in a path of evil is that they would suffer the consequences of continual sin and death—unless they would turn to Him. So, the questions arise as to what the solution to this degradation would be and what possibly could bring hope.

The answer of hope comes as we look to Easter. However, before we respond to the questions with, "of course, it’s Jesus' death” or “we know that,” we can consider just how God stated the answer in the same letter as the expression of His wrath (Rom 1:24-32). He used another “gave . . . over.” Romans 8:32 provides the same terminology—the same Greek word—that God gave over someone else. God delivered—He did not spare—His own Son, but gave Jesus over to death for us all.

The wrath was reversed. Still, no one has carte blanche permission to be disobedient to God. People must acknowledge Him as the One True Lord. He would rather give people over to good things (Rom 8:16-35; Jas 1:5, 17). He wants to feed and satisfy all with the finest of the wheat and with honey from the rock (Psm 81:16). His desire is to draw all people to Himself, for He is not willing that any should perish and that all should come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9).  He wants to lavish unconditional love on each one of us (Rom 5:5, 8; Eph 1:8).

This Easter, let’s give ourselves over completely to the One who desires to “freely give us all things” (Rom 8:32). Let's share God’s heart that He wants all people to accept His gift of salvation. And let’s relay the hope that comes at this time, only because He gave Jesus over for us.

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 begins a series of anecdotal stories from Wayland's history, drawn from the centennial coffee table book published in 2010, titled "The Wayland Century."

Ask any family members and they will tell you that Earl Hartley is quite a card. He wasn't above a little mischief if it meant having some fun. Hartley attended Wayland in the early 1930s, earning an associate's degree in 1932.

While at Wayland, he came across a jackrabbit flag. The flag was dark blue with the word Wayland

Jackrabbit flag
1930s era Jackrabbit flag

appliqued onto it, along with a rabbit stretched out across the canvas. In those days, the school's mascot was a jackrabbit.

When Hartley left Wayland, he took the flag with him and kept it for nearly 60 years. Around 1990-91, a relative of his, Rachel Petty, was returning to Wayland as a student. At a family reunion, Hartley approached Petty and offered her the flag. At the time he told her that he had stolen the flag in the 1930s and thought the school might want it back.

Petty took the flag and Hartley's story back to Wayland and presented it to the school. The story even made the local paper. The flag made the rounds, hanging in Wayland's student lounge for a while, then moving on to decorate a dorm lobby. It then disappeared again for several years. 

In 3007, Dr. Claude Lusk, then Vice President for Enrollment Management, found the flag in storage and took it to his office. It was this same time that another Hartley relative and a Wayland employee, Jonathan Petty, showed interest in tracking down the flag. When he heard the flag in Lusk's office was the same flag from the 1930s, the Office of Public Relations paid to have it mounted achivally and framed. 

During this quest, Jonathan Petty discovered the true story behind the flag as well. Petty called Hartley, then 94, and asked about his involvement in another school organization. At the time Petty asked about the flag, Hartley laughed and said he remembered seeing the story in the paper about him stealing the flag. He said the story wasn't exactly true; his sister had purchased the flag and given it to him in 1932. He admitted that he told Rachel he'd stolen the flag becuase it made a better story. 

The flag is currently hanging in the Laney Student Center.