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January 2022

Alum's book details keys to wholistic peace in life

Over Rob Killen’s lifetime, fitness and wellness have been a common thread woven through the years, whether he was serving in the U.S. Air Force or working his way through a career. Those experiences, combined with training, research, and learning from the experiences of others finally culminated in a new book released in the spring of 2021, thanks in large part to the pandemic that changed the world.

“I really started writing Peace Benefits over 6 years ago in 2015. It was an idea that continued to evolve and whenever I had time I would work on it,” said Rob, who earned his Bachelor’s Degree

Rob Killen pullups
Rob Killen works out to stay fit.

from Wayland’s Lubbock campus in 1991. “Then in 2020, when I found I had some free time, I wanted to really focus on it and do it right. I did some self-improvement during that time and acquired some certifications and training in emotional intelligence, behavior change, career transition, and life coaching. The extra training, studying, and certifications provided some great material that allowed me to finally complete the book.”

Rob self-published his book in the spring of 2021 and it is available on Amazon in paperback, e-book and audiobook versions. His main goal is simply to help others achieve peace in life, and he believes the formula outlined in the book is the key.

“I’ve been a certified personal trainer since my Air Force days. So the book is the sum total of my time in the military, places I have been and working with people in fitness,” he says. “I always knew the connection between the mind, the body, our emotions, and the spirit, and it resonated with me. It doesn’t matter who you are or your walk in life, the same fundamental keys either add to or take away from your level of peace.”

Rob says when he began to think of all the facets of one’s life that impact this crucial element, the PEACE BENEFITS acronym began to take shape. He calls it a dimension of wellness model and filed a utility patent as he was working on the book.

“Each letter represents a chapter in the book: perspective, environment, appreciation, career, education, balance, exercise, nutrition, evolve, faith, income, and time,” explains Rob. “When you combine all the first 12 peace benefits principles and use them in your life, you get the optimum level of security, which is the 13th and final benefit.”

Journey to peace

Rob’s own journey has taught him about many of these aspects, and he has added research studies and statistics to back up the principles and how vital they are to the richness of life. For instance, the chapter on evolving looks heavily at emotional intelligence also referred to as EQ.

“More and more companies are investing in emotional intelligence, and studies have shown a Peace Benefits coverperson’s EQ is more than twice as important than their IQ and technical expertise combined,” he says. “At the heart of it, EQ is understanding and managing your emotions and the emotions of others. Doing so allows you to effectively communicate and improve your personal and professional relationships. Everything we do revolves around how we communicate and interact with our fellow man or woman. I got trained in EQ so I could improve myself in this area and help others do the same.”

Rob occasionally works with others helping them improve their physical and emotional well-being. He has an online eight-week fitness and nutrition course he developed called rockakillenbod.com. He also works for the Italian-based company Technogym as a regional business developer to country clubs, resorts, hotels, and spas in southeast Florida, where he resides.

The fitness lifestyle

A native of Hampton, Va., and the son of an Air Force veteran, Rob said he always knew he’d be involved in coaching or teaching in some way and had a lifelong interest in fitness. He spent two years working toward a degree in the fitness field at Old Dominion before enlisting in the Air Force. That stint took him to Lubbock, where he was stationed at Reese Air Base from 1988-92 and worked as the base fitness advisor. He continued his studies while in the Air Force by taking classes part-time at Texas Tech. He completed his degree at Wayland and decided to stay in Lubbock after

Fitness contest
Rob at age 26 and now at 52

completing his service. Rob later went on to complete his Master's Degree in Public Administration at George Mason University.    

Rob helped open the first Bodyworks gym in Lubbock, then later opened and managed a World Gym before moving to Oklahoma to open other gym facilities in various cities. Rob later moved on to working on the equipment side of the fitness industry, with roles at Nautilus and 14 years with Gym Source.

He and his wife Kelly opened an Orange Theory Fitness franchise in Chesapeake Virginia in 2017 and sold their studio in 2019. Always interested in someday living in Florida for the warmer climate, the couple uprooted and moved to Wellington in October 2019. Within a few months, the new COVID pandemic would put much of the fitness industry on hold. That’s when he hunkered down to finish his Peace Benefits book that had been started six years previously.

Finding balance and value

While Rob finds his work helping people highly rewarding, he says statistics show that more people are not so fortunate.

“People often choose a job based on status or income but they find out five or six years later they really aren’t happy because they didn’t factor in what they value most in a career. What are you passionate about, what are your strengths, how do you add value to others, and what type of work best suits your own core values and beliefs?” Rob says. “Statistics show that 70 percent of all people are not happy in their jobs. Personally, I believe this number is a little inflated because many people focus more on what they don't like, as opposed to the positives. However, the majority of workers aren't happy and satisfied in their work because they chose a career instead of their calling. You have to find that healthy balance.”

Rob says core values are vital to making life decisions wisely, and his book addresses this in greater detail.

“This is where we are all hard-wired differently. Once you understand your core values, the next question is ‘Are you making decisions based on those core values?’ You have to think through a few

Rob and Kelly Killen
Rob & Kelly Killen

steps ahead and make sure you’re making the right decision,” he says. “It takes experience to look at things through that perspective.”

Rob’s wife Kelly shares his passion for health and wellness. Kelly owns KK Wellness Consulting, an online wellness and nutrition coaching service that's helped thousands of people successfully lose weight by combining cognitive behavioral therapy and healthy, whole foods nutrition. A former fitness competitor, Kelly is a certified behavior analyst who formerly trained teachers who work with autistic children and now oversees a group of coaches nationwide who help individuals improve their health through fitness, nutrition, and behavioral change.

Today, as grandparents in their 50s, Rob and Kelly want to continue teaching and helping inspire others to lead healthier lives.


Protect & Serve: Alum serves region as game warden

Sarah Wennersten’s never been one to back down from challenges. She set a goal at age 15 to run her own business and accomplished that as a college student at Wayland with ease, launching Inside & Out Fitness as sophomore after earning a national certification in personal training. Two years later, in 2015, she earned her bachelor’s degree in fitness management, then followed it with a 2017 master’s degree in sports administration while teaching fitness classes for her alma mater.

With plans to launch another business teaching fitness to those in tactical professions, Sarah had

Sarah in uniform
Sarah in uniform

the opportunity to attend the police academy and sailed through that. Along the way, she discovered that an interest she’d had since childhood was indeed her calling.

“I paid my way through the academy (through South Plains Association of Governments) to work as an unpaid reserve officer in Plainview and to better understand what people in those careers actually needed as far as fitness,” recalls Sarah. “Halfway through that, I realized I loved it and it really was what I was meant to do but I had been ignoring that.”

Following her call

Having grown up in Washington with a father in police work and many relatives having served in the military, Sarah said she shied away from law enforcement since she didn’t see how it could work with having a family one day. She worked as a student in the WBU police department, but saw her role as supporting LEOs rather than becoming one.

The academy changed her mind, and it opened her eyes to other opportunities she could pursue. So it shocked no one in her family or friend circle when she spent her first year in law enforcement learning the ins and outs… and applying for an even more elite role, that of a Texas Game Warden.

Sarah’s first stint would be at White River Lake, where she got a taste of everything from traffic stops and domestic violence calls to patrolling the lake by boat. At the same time, she was enduring the nearly year-long application and screening process to become a game warden, which she says is the best combination of all her interests.

“I grew up hunting, fishing, backpacking, and I knew if I was going to do law enforcement full-time, it was going to be as a conservation officer and working with wildlife and being outside, making my own schedule,” says Sarah. “There were thousands of applicants to begin with, then there is a fitness test… and the interview boards. Then the background investigation takes several months, where they go out and knock on the doors of your family members.”

Going into the wild

Sarah found out that summer that she’d been accepted into the Game Wardens academy and started it in 2019. For her first duty station, she picked a year-long stint along the state’s southernmost border assisting with the crisis along the river.

“We had around 30 in our academy, and most people have to apply multiple times before they are

Sarah sunset boat
Sarah at sunset on the lake

accepted. It’s very common to have to apply twice,” noted Sarah, who got in on her first try. “They like to hire veterans as well. I am one of 40 females in the statewide organization of 550 officers, and that number is higher than it’s been before.”

After serving that first year, Sarah had the chance to put in for a duty transfer, and she took advantage of an opening back in the panhandle area to move closer to the region she called home for several years. She is the only female officer in Texas covering three counties – Deaf Smith, Parmer and Castro – which encompasses 3,272 square miles. It’s anything but a traditional career, and that’s exactly what Sarah loves the most.

“With the game wardens, you make your own schedule and you work alone. I cover three counties by myself, and I can’t work 8-5. I’m on call 24-7. So it’s a little more conducive to family life if the Lord blesses me with that someday. I can work my schedule around things,” she said.

She also admits being drawn to the elite nature of the Game Wardens.

“I also knew if I was going to be in law enforcement, I wanted to be the best. Texas Game Wardens do the majority of search and rescue operations and that is something I have always been passionate about,” she notes. “If a hurricane hit Texas or any kind of natural disaster, we’re the first ones there. We have the largest boat fleet in Texas and that’s a large part of our job since we do water safety and work all the drownings in Texas, boat crashes, etc. Anything with the water is our cup of tea.”

Daily adventures abound

Sarah said her job changes by the seasons, with hunting season involving more early mornings and later evenings while the summer boating season means more daytimes and weekends when folks are on the water more.  There is very little routine, and that’s what she loves.

“I am very happy right now. Every single day is different. A few weeks ago I spent the entire weekend in a two-seater fixed-wing aircraft helping spot hunters for other wardens on the ground.

Sarah on water
At work on the water

Then a couple weeks later I get two days’ notice and I’m driving 12 hours down to the border to be on a boat for 14 hours a night,” she recalled. “I never know what a day’s going to bring. One day I am working with deer hunters, the next day I’m making a traffic stop and seizing drugs. This job is perfect for someone who can’t sit behind a desk and who is OK with change and not ever being able to plan.”

Sarah said she thinks of her job as a hunter, following and mapping the patterns and habitats of different species, which helps her anticipate where hunters will be going on the land she’s called to protect. But contrary to popular belief, she doesn’t spend her entire day writing tickets.

“The really great thing about this job is that the majority of contacts you have with people are positive. This is the only law enforcement job where I have contact with someone before they have done anything to break the law. We do inspections and compliance checks, versus regular law enforcement where if you’re contacting someone, it’s because they have already broken the law,” she explained. “Generally in this job, it’s more about education, and if they’ve done something wrong we do a lot of education versus just writing tickets. We have a lot of discretion to issue a warning if they just need more education.”

But Sarah is quick to point out, she’s not in animal control and she doesn’t deal with domestic animals. She and her fellow Game Wardens are state police officers who have the same ability to make traffic stops and other arrests… with the added responsibility of the conservation law enforcement.

“Our biggest thing is preserving the state’s natural and cultural resources for generations to come,” says Sarah, whose parents Kit and Cathie Wennersten are also WBU graduates. “We want to make sure that resource is there for our children and our children’s children, because if everyone had free rein, that’s how you wipe out an entire species and mess up an entire ecosystem. That’s what we’re tasked with.”


Devotional: Mary's trust should be 2022 goal

It must have been an enormous surprise to Mary when Gabriel appeared and told her that God had chosen her to be the mother of the Messiah! Angels​ ​appeared​ ​throughout​ ​the​ ​Bible​ ​from​ ​Genesis​ ​to​ ​Revelation. Often​,​ ​they​ ​greet​ed ​people​ ​with​ ​the​ ​words,​ ​“Fear​ ​not.”​ ​They​ ​must​ ​look​ ​at​ ​least​ ​somewhat​ ​intimidating! 

Many people who were visited by angels tended to question or doubt their messages. Sarah, the wife of Abraham, laughed in disbelief when she overheard an angel tell Abraham that they wouldStained glass Mary have a son despite their old age (Genesis 18:1-15). Gideon demanded signs before he would believe and act (Judges 6). Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, didn't believe he could be a father in his old age either (Luke 1:5-25).

Prophets foretold for centuries that the Messiah would be born from the family of David. By the time of Mary, around 1,000 years had passed since the reign of David. There were likely many descendants of David who would be wealthier and more influential than Mary. On top of the surprise of being visited by an angel, it was doubly surprising that she had been chosen from all the family of David.

​Mary's response to Gabriel's shocking message was one of humility and quick trust in God.  “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her." (Luke 1:38). Her belief in God's message stands in stark contrast to most responses to angelic messages we find in the Bible! 

Mother​ ​Teresa said, “Mary​ ​showed​ ​complete​ ​trust​ ​in​ ​God​ ​by​ ​agreeing​ ​to​ ​be​ ​used​ ​as​ ​an​ ​instrument in​ ​His​ ​plan​ ​of​ ​salvation.​ ​She​ ​trusted​ ​Him​ ​in​ ​spite​ ​of​ ​her​ ​nothingness​ ​because she​ ​knew​ ​He​ ​who​ ​is​ ​mighty​ ​could​ ​do​ ​great​ ​things​ ​in​ ​her​ ​and​ ​through​ ​her.”

While Christmas may be in the rear-view mirror now, I pray we carry the humble trust of the Savior into 2022 and look with hope to the great things the Lord plans to do for and through each of us. He is faithful!

Jon Mark Hester is a 2001 graduate of Wayland and is a worship leader and director of Regeneration Ministries, a nonprofit that preaches and leads worship at camps, churches and retreats in the area. Jon Mark and wife Hillary, a 2002 graduate, live in Plainview with their five three children. 


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.

Llano Estacado Museum
Museum of the Llano Estacado in the 1970s


In celebration of the nation's bicentennial in 1976, the Museum of the Llano Estacado was opened on the campus of Wayland, located on the northeastern edge off 8th and Smythe Streets. Designed to be reminiscent of the mud dugout homes that were prevalent in the region's early years, the

Eddie with mammoth
Eddie Guffee cleans a mammoth skull.

facility is home to a regional history and heritage museum, including a mammoth skull, information about explorers and Native Americans who roamed the land and early Pioneer days.

In September 2016, country singer turned sausage mogul Jimmy Dean's widow, Donna, joined university officials to cut the ribbon on an addition to the west side of the building that is now called the Jimmy Dean Museum. The beautiful exhibit hall features much of Jimmy's memorabilia detailing his rise to fame and life story, all donated by his widow along with the funding for the construction. The beautiful addition includes a small theatre for viewing an introductory video about Jimmy's life, from his childhood in Plainview to his stardom to his sausage ventures back in his hometown and beyond. Admission is free to both halves of the museum.

The museum also features a small auditorium with a stage that can host events for up to 75 at a small rental fee and a souvenir shop on the Jimmy Dean side. The facility is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday during regular university open days and on Saturdays from April 15 through Nov. 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.



Homecoming 2022 returns to campus with options

While it was great to gather with so many Wayland alumni and exes in 2021 over the Zoom platform, the Wayland Alumni Association is thrilled that our 2022 homecoming event is able to return alumni to the Plainview campus they know and love.

Slated Feb. 18-19, the weekend will include many of the traditional favorites such as the Friday chapel service, honor class reunions, evening awards banquet, followed by a showcase by our School of Creative Arts. On Saturday, the choir reunion and young alumni fellowship return, followed by the basketball doubleheader in Hutcherson Center and the crowning of the homecoming king and queen. Saturday night wraps up with the Student Alumni Council-hosted Student Talent Show in Pete's Place.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards will be presented at the Friday night Blue & Gold Banquet in the Laney Center, with the Alumnus of the Year announced at the end. In addition, the Pioneers of Promise Awards will honor current students from each school and several endowed scholarships will be dedicated. Tickets for this special dinner are $15 per person. 

For 2022, a special luncheon for graduates of 1972 or prior will be combined with a celebratory time preceding the groundbreaking of the new wing on the Moody Science Building and the naming of the Dr. Kenneth L. Mattox School of Mathematics and Sciences. The lunch is free for golden anniversary class members or those prior and $10 for guests. 

New this year is a hybrid offering for the honor class reunion times, with a Zoom room available for those who simply cannot join the reunion in person. Registration is free and a "Homecoming-in-a-Box" is available to the first 150 who request one at no charge. Some events throughout the weekend will be live-streamed so alumni can watch from home. 

"We're so excited to have homecoming back in person for 2022, but learned from our virtual event that some just cannot make the trip to Plainview. So we wanted to offer those alumni an opportunity to join us remotely for at least a few events," said Teresa Young, alumni director. "We're also reprising an online event for our military alumni regardless of the campus they attended, which was well attended and enjoyed in 2021."

Registration is open for homecoming at the webpage here, with a free t-shirt available to those who register by January 25, 2022. T-shirts can be purchased for $10 for family members and and alumni who register after January 25. Registration for meal events is appreciated by a week in advance of the event.