Building Lifelong Friendships and Business Skills: The Legacy of Bill Fowler

written by special contributor Lance Fleming

It shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows him that Bill Fowler – who will retire in June after 40 years on the COBA faculty – will be teeing up a golf ball shortly after he turns out the lights one last time in his Mabee Business Building office.

Since he joined the COBA faculty as a professor of Accounting, Fowler was always easy to find. He was either at work, at home, at church, or on the golf course. And it was likely the latter place where he could be found, more often than not.

“I imagine I’ll be out on the golf course pretty quickly,” said Fowler, who admits to a “four-ish” handicap he hopes to nudge down a little further in retirement. “Some people would say I can’t play much more than I already do, but I’ll give it a shot.”

Fowler’s love of golf is one of the first things that comes up among his colleagues when asked about his time at ACU and how difficult it will be to replace a man whose desire for every student he’s taught is to make a lifetime friend. The other is his sense of humor, which keeps his conversations, classroom, and office enveloped in laughter.

“I like to have fun,” Fowler said. “I have enjoyed harassing students and the people up and down the hallways in our building. We have a good time, which surprises some people. That’s one of the things I’ll miss. I’ll miss class because I still love being with the students. But I’ll miss hanging out in the halls and interacting with people.”

That’s because Fowler is a relationship-builder. He has kept hand-written grade books from his first 15 or 20 years on the ACU faculty and will refer to them when he’s thinking of a former student, or currently, the child of a former student. It’s his way of reconnecting to those relationships.

In a recruiting video posted to the COBA Facebook page in 2021, Fowler showed those grade books and said “What’s important to me about these books is not the grades, but these are my friends from years ago. As you come, we hope that you aren’t just a student but a lifetime friend.”

“That’s the whole deal right there,” Fowler said. “I’m not going to say I know or remember 100 percent of the names in those books or of the students I’ve taught, but I can see probably 90 percent of the faces of the students I’ve taught. And I know where most of them are living and working. That’s been the greatest blessing of all; just being a snippet of their walk and maybe a continued part as they go forward. That’s been the greatest part about being here.”

 Dr. Brad Crisp (’93), who has served as Dean of COBA since May 2016, said the relationship part of Fowler’s personality is the most important part of what makes him an excellent instructor.

photo courtesy of the ACU Prickly Pear

 “When you do something for as many years as Bill has done it, he’s got a whole host of students out there that are appreciative of him and grateful for him,” Crisp said. “I see him light up when accounting firms come back on campus, and he’s talking to each of them. And if they were a student here, he wants to talk to them and find out what’s going on in their lives and about their experience working at the firm they’re representing. He has been the example of investing in lifetime relationships with students.”

 What Fowler doesn’t want, though, is a classroom full of people who don’t know how to communicate or see the bigger picture. That’s why fundamental business and communication skills are part of what he teaches.

 “Earlier this semester in my graduate class, I gave an assignment one day to write a letter to a client explaining a difficult situation,” Fowler said. “Some of them asked me, ‘Write a letter? I don’t think you have to write letters anymore.’ But the point was, I wanted them to think about how to communicate an idea to someone who needs to understand the direction. The ability to explain situations is what separates people as they go forward. The people that can see the big picture and have the ability to communicate will make an impact on others.”

 The impact Fowler has made on his students over the last 40 years is because they know he cares more about them as people than as future accountants.

“At the end of every year, I usually tell the students in my classes that I don’t care if they become an accountant or not; that’s not my job to decide what they’re going to become in life,” Fowler said. “I want them to have learned about who they are and to take whatever that is and whatever that means and use their talents to serve God and others.

“If that’s becoming an accountant, that’s great,” he said. “And if they become an accountant, I want them to be the best accountant possible. I care about that, and that’s what we’ve talked about. But some of my accounting students are now funeral home directors, teachers, or stay-at-home parents, and people have no idea how smart they are as accountants. But the thing I want every student to do is to use their talent and do everything for God’s glory. And if you come back and you’re not an accountant, don’t hang your head. Just let me know what you’re doing, and how you’re serving God and others.”

Fowler’s ability to connect with his students was never more evident than during one five-minute period in one of his classes in the fall of 2014. Earlier that summer, one of his daughters suffered an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) rupture that required surgery and substantial rest and recovery. One day in class, Fowler updated his students on his daughter’s condition when he broke down.

“I was trying to update them on the situation, but I wasn’t doing very well,” said Fowler, who got emotional recounting the story. “I paused because I was breaking up a little bit, and this quiet student with her soft voice asked, ‘Mr. Fowler, can we pray for you?’ I was blubbering and said that would be OK, so the students gathered around me and she led the prayer, and it was awesome. If I can point to a five-minute segment out of the 40 years here at ACU, that would be near the top.”

And it’s because it confirmed everything Fowler knew to be special about ACU.

“That day told me what’s special about ACU,” he said. “I feel comfortable sharing part of my life and students feel comfortable enough to ask if they can pray for you in that moment, and then surround you and pray for you.

“I’m thankful to have been in this place with students who care for me and vice versa,” Fowler said. “That day there was a sense of sharing something with those kids and receiving the peace of Christ in return. I was grateful for the moment. I don’t remember the exact words, but what she said and prayed for was what we needed, and it felt comfortable and I was grateful that it provided a sense of peace. I’ll miss those moments more than anything because those moments tell you everything about what ACU is and what it means to me.”

Those moments – the ones in the classroom, the ones he shares with students during conference time, the ones he enjoys with colleagues down the hallway or in the Mabee Business Building – made the decision to retire difficult for Fowler. But He knows it’s time for his next chapter and looks forward to writing it.

“I’ve struggled with not being part of this world anymore,” he said. “It was a hard decision, but if you’re going to make space for the next chapter of your life, you’ve got to make space. Truthfully, I don’t know what the next chapter holds for me. I will play a lot of golf, and my wife and I will travel. But I don’t even know where we’re going until we get in the car, and I’m looking forward to that part of the next chapter of my life.”

Beyond Numbers: The Remarkable Journey of Dr. John Neill’s Teaching Career

written by special contributor, Lance Fleming

Dr. John Neill took a most circuitous route to a 40-year career teaching accounting and finance at three universities, including spending the last 24 years at ACU. 

When Neill retires at the end of the 2023-24 school year, he will leave a large hole to fill in COBA. While not as gregarious as longtime colleague Bill Fowler – also retiring at the end of the school year after 40 years of service to ACU – Neill’s steady hand, wise words, and unwavering loyalty to the mission of ACU and COBA will be missed. 

But had it not been for a simple twist of fate while he was a student at ACU, Neill might never have gotten into teaching, much less accounting and finance.

Neill – who lived in Abilene as a child before moving away and returning – graduated from Cooper High School in 1977. He enrolled at ACU and graduated in 1980, then worked for Pennzoil in Houston before returning to ACU to study for a master’s degree in Religious Studies.

While at ACU, he was asked to serve as an adjunct professor for an accounting class while working on his graduate degree. Surprising himself, he fell in love with the classroom. So much so that when he finished his master’s in 1984, he took off for Gainesville, Florida, where he earned his PhD in accounting from the University of Florida in 1990. 

Leaving the corporate world behind and turning his focus to teaching, Neill made stops at Florida State University and Chapman University (Orange Country, California) before returning to ACU in 2000, where he finished his career. 

“I never really wanted to be a preacher, but I wanted to be a minister of some sort,” Neill recalled. “Maybe it’s sort of the same mentality of teaching and preaching, but I’m not sure about that. I taught some as a doctoral student at the University of Florida, and then my first job was at Florida State University. And as I went along, I realized how much I enjoyed being in the classroom. 

“After being at Florida State, I went to Chapman University, a private school without the Christian emphasis,” he said. “I liked the small, private nature of the school, but I missed the emphasis on a Christian education. When I had the opportunity to come back home and back to ACU, I found some of everything I wanted.” 

The relationships with students and colleagues, and the opportunity to work in an environment that matched his beliefs kept Neill at ACU when he could have gone to other universities or numerous jobs in the private sector. 

“One of the main reasons I stayed at ACU is the mission,” he said. “I believe what we do and how we do it is important. The other reason is the colleagues I’ve worked with over the years. I enjoy the people I work with in our department. When I went to school at ACU and began working here, people always asked why I stayed, and I always said it was because of the people and relationships.” 

He was also working for a university that has built one of the top business schools in the country and was the recipient of a game-changing $29 million gift from the Bill and Janie Dukes estate last year that will revolutionize COBA in countless ways. Before that gift, though, Neill believed the business students graduating from ACU were as good as those graduating from any other school in the country. 

“I’ve had some partners in some of the top accounting firms in the country come to campus and tell me, ‘The students here (at ACU) are really good, but they don’t think they’re as good as they are,’ “ Neill said. “Sometimes our students might be intimidated because they work with a bunch of people who went to Texas or Texas A&M or SMU or wherever, but they shouldn’t feel that way because they have been well-prepared. 

“We have a good reputation of having prepared students who work hard, and we’re proud of that,” he said. “I want our students to realize that they are getting a quality education, but the most important thing is the Christian ideals they’re being taught – along with finance or accounting or whatever it might be – don’t stop when they leave here. We all want them to find a church home wherever they are, be part of the community, and have a work-life balance. Work is important, but it can’t be their entire life.” 

Neill said he would miss the chance to talk to students and give that kind of advice, along with words of wisdom on what ACU can offer students. 

“I’ve never taught freshmen; the classes I teach are traditionally a second-semester junior and a senior-level class,” Neill said. “But when I was department chair, I met with the first-year students in a new student orientation setting. One of the main things I always told him was they would get a fresh start here. A person who was the most popular in high school might not be that here. Conversely, someone with a bad reputation could start over here. Or if a student’s grades weren’t good in high school, they can turn them around here. I wanted to ensure they understood they had a fresh start here.” 

It was that style that stuck out to Dr. Brad Crisp (‘93), the Dean of COBA when thinking about Neill and his impact on the students who have gone through the Mabee Business Building. 

“John Neill is a genuine, personable guy with a sneaky sense of humor,” Crisp said. “He has done an excellent job for us and his students. I remember his presence, and I think the students appreciated him. He’s somebody who is one of those people at the center of living out the commitment we have for our students.”

Neill’s relationships with students and colleagues were changed in 2020 by COVID, the global pandemic that thrust millions into online education, whether they were ready for it or not. It also pushed Neill to begin thinking about his retirement, perhaps sooner than he had planned. 

“Teaching during COVID was very tough,” Neill said. “When we came back, everyone was socially distanced, so it was hard to get to know students. I taught some students who never saw me without a mask, so they probably never really knew who I was. It was difficult to reach students. I taught some classes I didn’t get to know well and didn’t like that.” 

That desire and ability to relate to students and colleagues has always stood out about Neill, said Dr. David Perkins, the Chairman of the Accounting Department. Perkins first met Neill when the former was a doctoral student at Texas A&M. The chairman of the Accounting Department at A&M asked him to take a prospective faculty member to dinner, mainly because he was a member of the Church of Christ, as was the prospective faculty member, who happened to be John Neill. 

Neill didn’t take the job at Texas A&M, but years later Perkins was hired at ACU and the two began a longtime relationship as friends and colleagues. 

“Although John’s career took a different path, we eventually became colleagues teaching accounting at ACU,” Perkins said. “John is recognized as an excellent teacher, scholar, and a humble colleague and friend. He has been very gracious in helping me transition into the role of department chair when he decided to step down after leading the department for several years. John will be difficult to replace. We have been blessed to have him serve ACU, and it’s been an honor to call him a colleague and friend.” 

A lifelong learner and teacher, Neill plans to do plenty of learning in the days immediately following his final day at ACU. He and his wife are taking a month-long trip to Japan, a vacation canceled in 2020 because of COVID. 

“I love to travel, and you can always learn something, no matter where you go,” Neill said. “Whether you get in a car and drive for three hours or get on a plane or ship and go somewhere across the world, you can learn something about it. We’ll have the chance to experience a different culture, and I want to see what that’s like. I want to see it. To experience it. To keep growing and learning.”

Alum Spotlight: Jack Gibbens

written by special contributor, Lance Fleming

Linebacker Jack Gibbens #50 of the Tennessee Titans during the preseason game between the Tennessee Titans and the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on August 12, 2023 in Chicago, IL. Photo By Emily Starkey/Tennessee Titans

As a double major in accounting and financial management, Jack Gibbens’ (‘20) learned a lot about discipline and tenacity during his time in the College of Business as a student-athlete. That steadfast determination was something he’d need on the road to the National Football League, which wasn’t as smooth as that of others he plays with as a member of the Tennessee Titans. But in the NFL – as Gibbens has heard over and over – it’s not about how you got to the league, it’s about what you do when you get there.

And despite being cut at the end of the Titans’ training camp in 2022, the former ACU Wildcat standout has finally earned his spot in the league as a starting linebacker for the Titans. He’s started all but one game this season for the Titans after playing in the team’s final five games in 2022.

Gibbens was a standout at ACU from 2017-20 and then spent his graduate season (2021) as a starting linebacker at the University of Minnesota, where he was an honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference selection and earned his master’s degree in accounting. He wasn’t drafted in 2022 but signed as a free agent with the Titans after the draft, and for most of training camp, it looked like he might make the final roster.

He quickly became a favorite of head coach Mike Vrabel, who dubbed him “Dr. Gibby” because of his intelligence. The former ACU Academic All-American had made an impression on the veteran head coach.

“He’s smart, answered all the questions, and then said, ‘Coach, I wasn’t in pre-med,’ “Vrabel said. “I told him I knew and that it was a joke.”

Gibbens has spent his career – both in college and now as a professional – using his athleticism and intelligence to reach the pinnacle in football: a starting spot in the NFL. A native of Bulverde, Texas, Gibbens quickly earned a starting spot for the Wildcats and played in 39 games over four years, earning all-conference honors and academic All-America accolades.

He went through the Titans’ training camp in 2022 but was one of the final cuts made before the regular season started. He was re-signed to the team’s practice squad on Sept. 12, 2022, and was promoted to the active roster on Dec. 10, 2022, making his NFL debut in their Dec. 11 game against Jacksonville. Just one year later, Gibbens is a mainstay in the middle of the Titans’ defense, having earned a starting spot over other veterans.

“Coach Vrabel continually preaches that it doesn’t matter how we got here; it’s what you do when you get an opportunity,” Gibbens said. “It’s been a journey to get to this place in my life. I was cut last year and then spent some time on the practice squad before I finally got an opportunity to play. Now, I’m playing a completely different role as a starter. I’m trying to keep the same process, which is to put my head down, keep working, and get better every day.”

Photo by Jeremy Enlow/Abilene Christian University

We recently had the chance to catch up with Gibbens, who spoke about his time at ACU (where he carried a 4.0 grade point average in accounting and financial management) as well as what he’s learned about managing his money in the NFL.

Q: You spent a lot of time in the Mabee Business Building while at ACU. Could you tell me about your experience in COBA and your gratitude for what you learned under those professors?

Gibbens: “When I think about my time in COBA, I am most appreciative of the amazing people I was surrounded by each day. The small class sizes allowed me to get to know my classmates and professors on a more personal basis. I am extremely grateful to my professors not only for teaching me about business but for their interest and investment in me as a person.

Q: What are some of your biggest takeaways from your time in COBA?

Gibbens: “Probably learning how to combine business with my personal beliefs, interests, and values. Being in a Christ-centered environment was a huge blessing that allowed me to be myself and grow in knowledge and as a person.

Q: When you think back on your time in COBA, who are the professors that stand out, and what life lessons did you take away from them?

Gibbens: “I had many professors who impacted my life, but two in particular stick out. Clint Buck had a huge impact in making it feel like home. He taught my first class at ACU and made me feel at home on campus by developing a personal relationship with me and praying for/ with me as I adjusted to college. And Andy Little. I appreciate the way he challenged my thinking and pushed me to form and defend opinions.

Q: How difficult was it to balance getting ready to play a game on Saturday and studying to maintain a 4.0 GPA?

Gibbens: “Balancing those two was a challenge when trying to succeed at the highest level. Being a student-athlete taught me great lessons about time management and work ethic. I quickly learned the importance of being in the moment and fully investing myself in the task at hand.

Q: When you played at the University of Minnesota, how much more difficult was the dual life of student and athlete?

Gibbens: “The adjustment from high school to college was much more difficult than my transition to Minnesota. Adjusting to life as a collegiate student-athlete is so different athletically, academically, and in everyday life from when you were in high school. Moving to Minnesota was much easier because I had already learned how to be successful in that lifestyle.

Q: Now that you’ve moved into the NFL, with your background and major, how much are you watching your finances and where your money is going?

Gibbens: “Having a background in accounting and finance has caused me to have a huge interest in my finances. What I studied in college gave me a great foundation to make good financial decisions and understand the importance of budgeting, investing, and preparing for life after football.

Q: A lot of guys in your position turn it over to a financial advisor and then don’t know anything about it. Did you determine early on you weren’t going to do that?

Gibbens: “The NFL is unlike any other profession because it creates specific challenges and opportunities from a financial perspective. To help me navigate this unique financial landscape I have hired a financial advisor who specifically works with athletes and understands my specific needs.

Q: Going back to your ACU days: what did ACU and the experiences in COBA, football, and student life in general mean to you?

Gibbens: “Those times at ACU are some of the best years of my life. I made memories and friendships that I will carry with me for the rest of my life and, for that, I am extremely grateful for ACU.

Career Fair Helps Students See Possibilities

written by special contributor Lance Fleming

Each year, ACU’s College of Business Administration (COBA) graduates students ready to move into professional fields in numerous types of businesses at every level of an organization. Sometimes, it’s in a company run by an ACU alum who wants to help students at their alma mater secure employment. Other times, it’s a global brand looking for the best and the brightest employees. 


Whatever the case might be and whatever employers are looking for, more often than not, ACU graduates – and in particular, ACU COBA graduates – are usually at the head of the line when it comes to new hires each summer.


So it shouldn’t be surprising that more than 50 companies from across the state and Oklahoma were represented on Thursday, Oct. 5, for the first joint Career Fair sponsored by COBA and the Department of Engineering and Physics at the Hunter Welcome Center. COBA also has in-house career preparation led by Professional Development and Internship Director Jasmine McCabe-Gossett. Students also have access to the ACU Virtual Career Center with resources to help them create resumes and cover letters. 


McCabe-Gossett (2010), who joined COBA last year, sensed a need for a Career Fair. After months of preparation, on October 5, that happened giving COBA students a chance to sit across from potential employers, put their resumes in front of them, and allow them to talk about themselves and what skills they would bring to an organization.


Various companies with both a local and international presence participated in the fair, providing our students with options that appealed to all. Business and technology students were able to engage with companies within the following industries: real estate, hospitality, IT services, consulting, distribution,  financial services, sales, healthcare and more. One student noted, “I have never attended a career fair, but it was great! It was so cool to be able to see many different options in internships, companies, and people!”


These companies weren’t just looking for full-time employees, either. Internships have become a way for companies to put a student and potential future employee through an on-the-job interview, a point McCabe-Gossett tried to drive home to some of her students going into the Career Fair.


“We want to connect students with employers, especially students looking for full-time employment,” she said. “But a considerable focus is to connect employers to potential interns. In the lead-up to the event, we hosted several different workshops to help students feel comfortable and confident, starting with a workshop focused on identifying personal values and what it looks like to live out your faith in the workplace authentically. We had a panel of professionals who came in and spoke about that.


“The Career Fair turned out to be geared more toward internships,” McCabe-Gossett said. “During this season, many companies are laying off employees, but we know it’s still strategically important to build a pipeline, and internships are a big part. I told the students not to dismiss the internship experience because it’s a great foundation\opportunity that can open doors for them. Some students were disappointed, but I tried to help re-frame their thinking regarding how you leverage an internship.”


Another area where McCabe-Gossett and others helping her with the Career fair tried to re-form thinking centered around the experiences students might have working as interns or part-time workers at faith-based camps or events. While that experience fits neatly into the ACU experience, sometimes it doesn’t catch the eye of a potential employer, something McCabe-Gossett said she tried to help some students with as they prepare themselves to hit the job market.


“A lot of times, our students have faith-based experiences, so we talked about how to translate those experiences to a compelling resume and what values they can bring to the workplace,” she said. “Those are wonderful experiences, but we also want our students to be able to go toe-to-toe with anyone for any job. This is beyond talking about what you did but digging into how you did your job and the result.”


And this year’s success has McCabe-Gossett already thinking about the 2024 Career Fair.


“We’ve had Meet the Firm Nights in the past, which was specific to accounting majors, and that’s wonderful,” she said. “But I wanted to cast a wider net this year and probably a wider one next year. It was a heavy lift, but I’m glad we did it because I now have this Career Fair to show potential employers. We have ACU alumni who are killing it in the business world, and they’re in positions of power, so why not ask them to come back here and represent their companies? I’m trying to create a playbook to present to alumni who work at Google or AT&T or wherever to help convince them they should come back here and represent their company at future events.”


For more information on professional development in COBA, email Jasmine McCabe-Gossett at


University Scholar Spotlight: Matthew Roberson

Written by special contributor Lance Fleming

Each day, students across the ACU campus display the university’s mission to educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world through their actions and acts of service on the campus. Each year, students like those are nominated by their academic departments. From those nominations, 50 scholars are selected by the ACU Faculty Senate to receive the University Scholars Award for their graduating class. 

Among those 50 scholars who demonstrated outstanding scholarship by maintaining a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher, earning 90 hours towards their degree, and continuing the pursuit of knowledge in their research field, seven are students from the College of Business Administration. The COBA students who received this year’s University Scholars Award are Kathryn Crawford, Gracie Isham, Matthew Roberson, Will Harris, Diego Lozano Welsh, Ben Blackmon, and Garrett Powell. 

We will highlight each of the seven over the next month, including this profile of Matthew Roberson, a native of Weatherford who carries a 4.0 GPA and is graduating with a degree in accounting. After graduation, Matthew plans to complete his Master of Accountancy with ACU and continue his audit internship with Condley and Company. 

Matthew has served as Vice President of Fundraising for ACU’s chapter of the International Justice Mission and was also a member of the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society and the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society. 

Matthew recently answered a few questions about his time at ACU and in COBA, covering everything from his most influential class to the most unique thing he’s been a part of while at ACU: 


Q: What is the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself at ACU?

Roberson: “I’ve learned that I value relationships more than academic or work success. Investing time to know the people I am around provides me with the most fulfillment.”


Q: What professor or class has impacted you most and why?

Roberson: “This one is tough to answer. Each professor I have had at COBA has profoundly impacted my life, and I cannot honestly rank who has done so the most. However, the class that most influenced the trajectory of my life was Financial Accounting 210 with Dr. Clint Buck. Before taking that class, I struggled with finding purpose and fulfillment in my previous major. While Dr. Buck provided a logical foundation for accounting principles that I still rely on to this day, the most important thing he did was help me understand why and how accountants bring good into our communities. All I needed was the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ followed soon after.”


Q: What has been your experience in COBA?

Roberson: “My experience in COBA has been unparalleled. I transferred to ACU in the second half of my junior year, and I fully expected COBA to be like the other academic environments I had experienced. However, I was happily proved wrong. There is a familial atmosphere at COBA that I was hard-pressed to find elsewhere. The professors pushed me to be the best I could be, but I never once felt like I had to go it alone.”


Q: Of all the things you’ve experienced at ACU, what do you believe will have the most impact on your life?

Roberson: “The connections I have formed at ACU will impact my life the most.”


University Scholar Spotlight: Gracie Isham

Written by special contributor Lance Fleming

Each day, students across the ACU campus display the university’s mission to educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world through their actions and acts of service on the campus. Each year, students like those are nominated by their academic departments. From those nominations, 50 scholars are selected by the ACU Faculty Senate to receive the University Scholars Award for their graduating class.

Among those 50 scholars who demonstrated outstanding scholarship by maintaining a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher, earning 90 hours towards their degree, and continuing the pursuit of knowledge in their research field, seven are students from the College of Business Administration. The COBA students who received this year’s University Scholars Award are Kathryn Crawford, Gracie Isham, Matthew Roberson, Will Harris, Diego Lozano Welsh, Ben Blackmon, and Garrett Powell.

We will highlight each of the seven over the next month, starting with Gracie Isham, the youngest of the four Isham siblings to attend ACU. A native of Decatur, she is a member of Ko Jo Kai, has served on the Executive CEO Leadership Board and the Executive Philanthropy Board, and sang in the Foundation and Grace Note a capella groups.

A double major in accounting and finance, she has already accepted a job offer at Weaver, an accounting firm in downtown Fort Worth. She is in the process of applying to schools across Texas so she can work toward getting her MBA.

Gracie recently answered a few questions about her time at ACU and in COBA, covering everything from her most influential class to the most unique thing she’s been a part of while at ACU:

Q: What is the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself at ACU?
Isham: “The most important thing I have learned is that we all need community, and that community looks different for each individual. As I’ve gone through the troughs and peaks of college, my community has kept me stable and looking toward my purpose: to be a good steward of God’s gifts. With this being said, my definition of community has changed throughout my time here. I would have used to say that community looks like being plugged in with a vast group of people across all areas and interests in my life. Still, as my time in college ends, my definition of a true community has changed to this: my caring roommate that sews the hole in my shirt, my lifetime friend that walks my dog while I’m sick, my friend that offers me a prayer whenever I need, and my family who constantly supports all of my future ideas. Community isn’t about quantity but the quality of people who know you best.”

Q: What professor or class has impacted you most and why?
Isham: “The class that had the most impact on me was the strategic philanthropy class I am currently taking (The why behind this answer is located in the last question!).”

Q: What has been your experience in COBA?
Isham: “COBA has been a great experience overall. It has offered me many opportunities to grow by presenting me with leadership opportunities, networking events, and an overall supportive environment with people who want to see me succeed!”

Q: Of all the things you’ve experienced at ACU, what do you believe will have the most impact on your life?
Isham: ACU’s constant push toward turning its faculty and students toward God will have the biggest impact on my life. I have grown spiritually through all the big chapels, small group chapels, the professor’s daily class prayers, and constant spaces of worship. The things I gained through these experiences are things I will implement into my life forever.”

Q: What is the most unique thing you’ve been a part of or learned at ACU?
Isham: The most unique thing I have been a part of at ACU has been sitting as the chairperson of the Strategic Philanthropy Board. I have had the opportunity to visit various non-profits in Abilene and witness God’s good work through the people of each organization. Through this, as a board, we have chosen several non-profits to allocate $50,000 for their use. This has challenged me to engage in more philanthropic endeavors in my life and home community.”