Wayland honoring centennial graduate from each campus in scholars

Release Date: August 1, 2008

PLAINVIEW – In celebration of its Centennial from August 2008 through August 2009, Wayland Baptist University is honoring 20 graduating students for their academic achievement, involvement and character in keeping with the WBU mission.

Dubbed Centennial Scholars, the students represent each of Wayland’s 12 external campuses and each of the eight academic schools within the Plainview campus. The executive directors/campus deans at each external location and academic deans nominated their scholars based on the recommendation of faculty and staff in their respective areas or campuses and provided testimony as to why their students were deserving of the honor. The students will receive special honors at their graduation ceremonies, all of which fall during the centennial year.

The Scholars are as follows, alphabetized by campus:

Charlie Lopez: Albuquerque Campus, Nov. 2008 graduate. A native of Albuquerque, Charlie is earning the Bachelor of Science in Occupational Education degree in law enforcement. A retired police officer, he works for the Department of Energy’s National Training Center and plans to continue with a master’s degree and advance his career with the DOE.

“Wayland has been tremendous with the support during my time here. WBU has catered to adult learning by providing flexible scheduling while maintaining a top notch instructor staff. WBU has given me the opportunity to obtain a degree and help me become a role model for my family and friends alike,” said Lopez.

Joseph Callahan: Altus, OK, Campus, May 2009 graduate. A native of Houston, Joe is earning the BSOE in management. An Air Force airman, Joe is an instructor boom operator and plans to earn a master’s degree and pursue work in business or real estate.

“Two years ago, the completion of school was just a thought, now it is a reality. I am a firm believer this has a lot to do with God's will and not my own. The Christian basis has been my greatest motivator. Without it, I believe that I would have quit already. Whenever I fill out a tuition form, I almost feel like it is a two-part investment. The first is in my future, and the other is in the future of a Bible-based university. That alone keeps me turned on to my education,” he said.

Gary Hamilton: Amarillo Campus, Dec. 2008 graduate. A native of Hereford, Gary is earning the BSOE in justice administration. A police officer in Amarillo, Gary works the SWAT team and explosive ordinance disposal unit and hopes to attend graduate school and advance his police career.

“The education I have received at Wayland will help me in achieving my goals of advancement within my department and my future goals of teaching within my discipline at the college or university level,” he said.

Scott Bleeker: Anchorage Campus, Aug. 2009 graduate. A native of Kodiak, Alaska, Scott is earning the BSOE in business administration. He is cash management services specialist for First National Bank Alaska and plans to advance his banking career.

“The interaction with professors who know and love Christ has been an encouragement to me. The staff understands the priority of family and the pressures that come with being a non-traditional student,” he said of his WBU experience. “Though I had a good understanding of both the New and Old Testaments, I thoroughly enjoyed and took advantage of the opportunity to discuss spiritual matters in class, especially the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Chase Hardage: Clovis, N.M., Campus, Aug. 2008 graduate. A native of Farwell, Texas, Chase is earning the BSOE in business. He has worked in the family business and wants to work in management, marketing or other business fields in the Austin area.

“I truly feel that at the time in my life when I decided to return to school and finish my degree, WBU was a gracious blessing that I am so thankful for. The atmosphere was fantastic; the staff and professors were all wonderful and supportive. I have no doubts that my time at WBU will help and influence me in great ways, both because of my further education and knowledge as well as my renewed faith,” said Hardage, who is the nephew of longtime WBU administrator the late Dr. Bill Hardage.

George Mathisen: Fairbanks, AK, Campus, Winter 2009 graduate. A native of Glen Spey, N.Y., George is earning the BSOE in religion. An active duty Air Force airman, he plans to pursue graduate work in religion or education and teach or work in Christian education.

“Wayland has been a blessing to me and my family. It has given me the ability and confidence to pursue my higher education goals and will help in securing a career for my family after the military. Most importantly, though, it was a major tool that God used to bring about me and my family's salvation, and that alone took care of my future forever,” he said.

Thomas Cayetano: Hawaii Campus, Nov. 2008 graduate. A native of Kaneohe, Thomas is earning the BSOE in criminal justice. He is a deputy sheriff in Hawaii, and hopes to become an investigator with the Hawaii Attorney General’s office and other advancement options.

“Wayland has been very instrumental in assisting me in my quest to achieve the goals I have desired. If not for WBU’s cost-efficient tuition, I would not have been able to afford the higher level of education I have so desired,” he said. “I strongly feel that if not for Wayland’s support staff and instructors, I would not be attaining this long-sought goal. In my opinion, all involved in Wayland’s mission to educate and provide a positive learning environment have been successful.”

Mori Applewhite Bell: Lubbock Campus, Jan. 2009 graduate. A native of Hale Center, Texas, Mori is earning the BSOE in science studies. She is a dental hygienist and dental coordinator for the Community Health Center and is considering graduate work.

“I feel Wayland has greatly improved my abilities as a supervisor, as a youth leader and as a Sunday school teacher. In all areas of life I have learned how to deal with certain situations, employees, patients and even questions about the Bible, whether it be at work, church or in conversation with a friend or family member. I have had ample opportunities to explain details to my youth about Biblical passages that, had I not attended Wayland, I would never have known,” said Bell.

Charles Kohlhase: Phoenix Campus, Sept. 2008 graduate. A native of Warren, Minn., Charles is earning the BSOE in human services. He is a lieutenant with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and hopes to advance his career and possibly pursue graduate work.

“My experience at Wayland has broadened my views, opened new possibilities, and helped me to appreciate my own abilities,” he said. “I had never envisioned I would graduate with honors or receive any special recognition like being named a Centennial Scholar, but these accomplishments have helped me to identify more with my abilities than my limitations.”

Ashley Pyeatt: Plainview Campus, School of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Dec. 2008 graduate. A native of Plainview, Ashley is earning her degree in psychology. She is an active member of Baptist Student Ministries and hopes to earn a graduate degree in counseling and practice marriage and family therapy.

“I have been provided with a good education and have experienced support and encouragement from my professors. I know they will help me when applying to graduate school or for future jobs. Wayland has been a place for me to explore my options and helped me discover more who I am and who I want to become,” she said.

Bonnie Jo Bagwell: Plainview Campus, School of Business, Dec. 2008 graduate. A native of Earth, Bonnie Joe is earning her degree in business, specifically in accounting. She has worked on campus and with a local CPA firm and plans to work in the field of accounting.

“My experience at WBU has been wonderful. It's been a pleasure to work with the business division. My advisor, Dr. Otto B. Schacht, helped me pick classes and ultimately decide on choosing accounting as my specialization. Dr. Valentine then helped me when picking courses that would help me on my CPA exam. Overall, Wayland has been very good to me. From helping me pick out classes to granting me a wonderful scholarship, I have been blessed in my experience at Wayland,” said Bagwell.

Molly Flowers: Plainview Campus, School of Education & Exercise & Sport Science, May 2009 graduate. A native of Amarillo, Molly is earning a degree in special education. She is active in BSM and ministry and hopes to teach autistic children in elementary schools.

“Being at Wayland has prepared me to be an effective teacher. The education department is wonderful, and the environment allows for the professors to be personal. They want to make sure I am doing my best, and they'll do anything to help,” said Flowers. “My great Christian experience at Wayland has assured me that as long as God is the leader of my life, I can reach my dreams of becoming a special education teacher and truly change the lives of children.”

Tim Barnes: Plainview Campus, School of Fine Arts, May 2009 graduate. A native of Tulia, Tim is earning a degree in art. He is an active volunteer and BSM member and wants to work in graphic design and own his own company.

“The professors here at Wayland have definitely helped me gain the skills I need to pursue my career. Their advice and encouragement has helped me to become more confident in not only myself, but also in my abilities as an artist,” he said.

Jenny Beth Alford: Plainview Campus, School of Languages and Literature, May 2009 graduate. A homeschooler raised in West Texas, Jenny Beth is earning a degree in English. An honors student involved in ministry, she wants to become a writer.

“It was my studies here that led me to realize that my ability to express and defend my opinions well might lead me to become an accomplished writer. In addition, the commitment on the part of many of the faculty, administration, students and staff at Wayland to honor Christ has been stimulating to my own pursuit to glorify God. All this has grown me as a person, so that I may perhaps be able to make a lasting contribution to the world and to my Father's work,” said Alford.

Jonathan Carey: Plainview Campus, School of Mathematics and Sciences, May 2009 graduate. A native of Hobbs, N.M., Jonathan is earning a degree in chemistry. An honors student involved in research, he wants to become a water resources engineer, using science to improve water distribution in underdeveloped nations.

“While attending Wayland, not only have I received a high-quality education, but through the university's emphasis on world missions, I have also been instilled with a desire to help others in any way that I can. This desire has provided an additional motivation to be a diligent, hard-working student,” he said.

Joshua Allen: Plainview Campus, School of Music, May 2009 graduate. A native of Lovington, N.M., Joshua is earning a degree in music education. He is an active member of several instrumental groups and plans to pursue graduate work in composition and performance and teach at the college level.

“I began my education at Wayland in pursuit of degree in psychology. Wayland and the music faculty have been ‘instrumental’ in helping me to see God's true calling in my life, a call to study music so that I might one day teach others to love music and glorify Him through it,” said Allen.

Matthew Johnston: Plainview Campus, School of Religion and Philosophy, May 2009 graduate. A native of Ruidoso, N.M., Matt is earning a degree in religion. He is involved in ministry in several areas and plans to pursue graduate studies and serve as a youth minister or pastor.

“Wayland has given me an educational and theological background which is helping me to become a more effective minister,” said Johnston. “Wayland has also provided hands-on training through the BSM, the summer Rec Team and other opportunities. Because of the pioneering spirit of Wayland and the glorious grace of God, I have the opportunity to study at Oxford this summer.”

Megan Hardin: San Antonio Campus, Feb. 2009 graduate. A native of San Antonio, Megan is earning the BSOE in business. She works in cancer research and is an encouragement to her fellow students. Her plan is to start a non-profit to make dreams come true for terminally ill patients.

“Wayland Baptist has been a place for me to go to escape from my reality and feel like everyone else. When you live as though you are dying, you tend to look at life differently. My self-motivation to keep fighting and reaching my goals is what keeps me going. I have been blessed with the most understanding professors and an inspiring student body. I couldn't ask for a better school to attend. Wayland is truly a heaven on Earth. Thank you to all of the angels who have watched over me,” Hardin said.

Sharon Burks: Sierra Vista, AZ, Campus, April 2009 graduate. A native of Harrisburg, Mo., Sharon is earning her Master of Christian Ministry degree. The site coordinator for WBU at Fort Huachuca, she plans to teach religion at Wayland and possibly pursue additional graduate degrees.

“It is the support, encouragement, environment, and freedom to explore that has given me the opportunity to excel. It is also because of this that I want to give back to current and future students. Without a doubt, my experience with Wayland has helped me seek and, in many ways, achieve my dreams,” she said.

Donna Johnson: Wichita Falls Campus, Aug. 2009 graduate. A native of Shreveport, La., Donna is earning a Master of Education degree. She is an active church and community volunteer and works with her husband’s lawn-care business. She plans to teach English at the high school level.

“I completed much of my undergraduate work at LSU-Shreveport, but when we moved, I felt my education dreams had been crushed. I feel Wayland has made my dream of being a teacher a reality. Wayland answered all of my problems. Their evening and online classes are convenient for my 'mommy' schedule. Their location and degree programs fit my needs also,” she said.

For more on the story see the Centennial Celebration.