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 have been highlighting each of those seven individuals over the last few weeks, including this profile of Will Harris. A native of Houston, Texas, and a business management major, Will carries a 3.78 GPA while competing on the ACU track and field team. Aside from his work on the track, Will is already a licensed realtor, having earned his real estate license two years ago. Will has been selling properties for two years, and his post-graduation plan is to continue selling real estate with the goal of becoming one of the top-producing tenant representatives in Houston.
Will also wants to open a center for financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and professional development in an underrepresented area of Houston. Will competes in the long jump, triple jump, and 100 meters as part of ACU’s tradition-rich track and field program and is also a member of Lynay and the president of the College Entrepreneurs Organizations (CEO). He’s also a part of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Nu Kappa Psi, and is a DEI mentor.
Will 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?
Harris: “The most important thing I have learned at ACU is how to step into a leadership role even when you feel unprepared. The only way to grow is to become uncomfortable for a period of time.”
Q: What professor or class has impacted you most and why?
Harris: “Dr. Dennis Marquardt and Dr. Matt Deeg had the most significant impact on me because they have taken so much time outside the classroom to invest in me as a young man of God. Both men set the standard for integrity in and out of the classroom, and while their classes taught me a lot about business, the value I gained from being in their presence was more rewarding.”
Q: What has been your experience in COBA?
Harris: “My favorite COBA experience was, by far, Leadership Summit 2023. The Lord did something to my heart on that mountaintop, and I honestly was not the same person when I returned to school. I learned to trust the Lord and surrender my life to Him in a way I didn’t know was possible.”
Q: Of all the things you’ve experienced at ACU, what do you believe will have the most impact on your life?
Harris: “ACU Track and Field gave me a family I will never lose. For four years, I learned what it meant to fight hard towards a shared goal with a team! The way the coaches and team mentored me and grew me as a Christian man is the one thing that impacted me the most during my time at ACU.”
As an Associate Director of Advising and as advisor to Financial Management majors, Kent Akers spends a lot of time talking with students while helping them plan their academic career at ACU. With counseling degrees in psychology (B.S. ’09) and Marriage and Family Therapy (MMFT ’11), Kent also helps students with issues like pre-martial counseling, career aptitude, and more. Kent shared a few of his favorite memories with us on this Throwback Thursday.
What was your best memory from college?
My best memory from college was either being at the football game where ACU beat WTAMU 93-68 or playing baseball for Coach Britt Bonneau.
What is your best advice for college students?
My best advice would be to keep your dorm room door open as much as you can. My best friendships in college came from people who would walk through my open door and from the open doors I chose to walk through.
What do you wish you could tell your college self today?
I wish I could tell my college self that doing too many things is not a good thing. Choose a couple of things to be really involved in and do them well. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
If you go to any ACU home game, you are sure to see Dr. Jonathan Stewart, finance professor, sitting in the stands or standing on the sidelines, cheering on the Wildcats. This year, Dr. Stewart is ACU’s Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR). FARs are chosen to help create a caring and supportive campus environment to grow and advocate for student-athletes. The FAR is involved in helping make sure that student-athletes have the appropriate systems and environments in place so that they can succeed in academics and as a person.
Dr. Jonathan Stewart
Dr. Stewart has taught Financial Management, a required class for all business majors, for the last fifteen years and in doing so, has felt privileged to meet so many students. Being the FAR allows him to get to know students in other majors with whom he would not normally interact and build relationships and friendships with them. Dr. Stewart is in charge of overseeing a committee that checks student-athlete eligibility and making sure they are meeting NCAA and ACU requirements. ACU only allows student-athletes to miss a certain amount of classes, so Dr. Stewart approves travel schedules. A large part of his job is just being available to student-athletes so that they can feel comfortable talking to him about difficulties or just to chat. Dr. Stewart tries to go by practices and travels with each team at least once so they can see his face and become familiar with him. His favorite part of the job is coordinating the guest coaching program. Student-athletes nominate their favorite faculty and staff to be honored as guest coaches. Guest coaches can go to practices, watch film, attend pregame meals, and see what the student-athletes do day-to-day beyond the classroom. Dr. Stewart loves to see how it blesses the faculty and staff that get nominated and meeting those individuals who have such a strong positive influence on ACU’s student-athletes. “I get to meet the faculty and staff that the students love,” said Dr. Stewart. “It is also good for them to see how much time, dedication, and love the student-athletes put into what they do.”
Working as ACU’s FAR certainly aligns with Dr. Stewart’s calling to mentor and teach. It allows him to know and interact with a much bigger group of students, all with different concerns, majors, and backgrounds. “I am still learning and trying to find my way,” said Dr. Stewart. “It is fun to say hi to people while I am walking around campus or checking up on how things are with students in the Bean or in chapel.” Dr. Stewart tries to practice mindful prayer for the student-athletes. For example, there always injuries and physical struggles in athletics, so when Dr. Stewart sees someone in a brace or on crutches, he says that he prays for their healing and peace. “It can be stressful for an injured athlete to not compete and be with the team. I try to be really intentional about praying for them and following up on that,” says Dr. Stewart. Student-athletes also have to be exceptional time managers to succeed in the long run. Dr. Stewart prays for their ability to be well-organized and uncommonly focused and makes sure to be available to help students achieve those goals.
Like the rest of us, Dr. Stewart was very excited about having ACU football back on campus in the brand-new Anthony Stadium. In particular, Dr. Stewart has really enjoyed the opportunities that the stadium has provided for communities at ACU and in Abilene. He enjoys walking through tailgates and seeing students setting up their tents and alumni catching up with each other. In Dr. Stewart’s eyes, the stadium has brought about a great improvement and positive effect upon ACU culture, especially when it comes to athletics. “I hope that the excitement that having a home stadium has created will bleed over into other athletic events,” said Dr. Stewart. “We can use this as a way to support and encourage each other no matter if we are a professor, student, athlete, or alumni and focus on building relationships and improving our community.”
Be sure to come say hi to Dr. Stewart at all of our home games and cheer on our student-athletes. Go Wildcats!