Rick Atchley Encourages Students, Faculty, and Staff to “Abide in Christ” at Lytle Center Dinner

Written by special contributor Lance Fleming

In more than 30 years as the minister at The Hills Church in North Richland Hills, Rick Atchley (’78) has delivered thousands of sermons to millions of people, drawing listeners from near and far to a relationship with Jesus Christ.  In Atchley’s tenure with The Hills Church, it has grown to be among the largest Church of Christ congregations in the world, averaging over 5,000 in attendance each week across three campuses.

 

As he said when he was named ACU’s Outstanding Alumnus of the Year in 2014, one of the themes of his life and his ministry is to live out Christ’s call to unify and to “bring down walls that God didn’t want up in the first place.”

 

Atchley spoke to both students and faculty and staff at ACU on Tuesday, September 6th.  His address to students was a part of the Lytle Center’s Fall Speaker Series while his exhortation to faculty and staff was a part of the Lytle Center’s second annual Abiding in Christ dinner event.  The Abiding in Christ dinner was established in 2021 with a vision of encouraging and challenging faculty and staff in the deepening of their relationships with Jesus in order to better influence and serve students. It should come as no surprise that Atchley had a challenge for each group. A mission to  follow Christ no matter the setting or circumstances.

 

At the Abiding in Christ dinner, Atchley contended, that ACU should be a place where students attend to not only grow in academic ability but also in wisdom.

 

“We know there’s a difference between being intelligent and truly being wise, and that’s why I believe the mission of this university is so critical,” he said to a group of around 200 faculty and staff members gathered in the Brown Family Club Level at Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium. “Let’s be honest: young people don’t have to come to ACU to gain knowledge on how to be an accountant or how to manage the market. They can gain knowledge at many great universities. What I hope for when they come here is that, along with knowledge, they gain wisdom. They learn to be wise, not just smart.”

 

Atchley then spent several minutes challenging those in attendance to teach their students to look for wisdom and guidance from above and not from other sources.

 

“What is the wisdom of the world?” he asked. “It’s the knowledge that looks for truth from within instead of above. It’s the Kool-Aid of this culture. The young people you teach have been immersed in it. It’s all about finding their truth. The world has told them to look inside to find truth.”

 

“They don’t have to come here to get knowledge; you’re good at that,” Atchley told the crowd. “You’re good at that. But when they leave with the knowledge you’ve given them, will they be wiser? Will they leave with a worldview that says ‘I’m going to look at life through the lens of the wisdom of Christ? He will be where I get my truth. He will be the framework from which I understand what is right and wrong.’ Will they leave with wisdom, not just knowledge?”

 

Late in his address to the faculty and staff, Atchley reminded them that they are working and teaching in a society that has been battered by the constant battle between politics and religion. And it’s against that backdrop that ACU faculty and staff must equip students with the wisdom needed to traverse that world, no matter their chosen profession.

 

“For the Christian educator, the opportunity to prepare students for the world in which they will pursue varied and creative careers must include the role of faith and the pursuit of wisdom,” said Mitzi Adams, Director of Clinical Teaching and Field Experiences in the Department of Teacher Education. “We are challenged to consider how our courses are different from the courses offered at other prestigious universities where students could secure a solid education. At ACU, it must come back to the witness of faith.”

 

“I think it’s very important for students to hear and experience much more than just knowledge of their field of study,” she said. “At a Christian university, the faith we profess becomes the framework through which we view and experience this education.”

 

As Atchley pointed out numerous times to the faculty and staff, the prevailing mission of ACU should be to not only equip students with knowledge and wisdom but also the desire to live out their faith in the world around them.

 

“For a student to walk away from this Christian university without the opportunity to understand and apply where and how faith integrates into their chosen field of study is to have had an important aspect of this education withheld,” Adams said. “If not now, when will our students have the opportunity to be immersed in studies intended to prepare them for excellence in their field? Beyond this, at what other time in the lives of our students will they have the opportunity to be taught by exceptional practitioners, academics, and researchers who are compelled by the Christian faith? Our students are here now. This is an opportunity we have as a faculty to pour into our students not only our professional expertise but also the centering of our faith.”

 

Before Atchley spoke to the faculty and staff at the football stadium, he met with COBA students, challenging them to choose the battles that matter.

 

“It’s easy to get passionate and carried away with matters that don’t have much weight,” said Kathryn Crawford, a senior Finance and Management major from Flower Mound. “Instead, we need to recognize the fights that will have an impactful outcome and approach those with our chosen values.”

 

In addition, his theme with the students was much the same as it would be later with the faculty and staff: that knowledge is easily attainable anywhere but it’s wisdom and obedience in Christ that will make the most impact on the world.

 

“He made the point that we have to trust the impact of an obedient life,” Crawford said of Atchley. “When things become difficult, the easy way out seems so attractive. But this path does not guarantee obedience. Time and time again, scripture shows us our convictions will cause us to face difficult things in our lives. Choosing obedience may not be easy but the impact we can unknowingly have on the Kingdom is far greater than the temporary adversity we might face.”

 

Crawford said Atchley’s message to students about integrity and faith in the workplace resonated with her because he put special emphasis on how important the choice will be.

 

“As a student at a Christian university, it becomes easy to rely on circumstances and surroundings to motivate my faith,” she said. “However, I know this won’t necessarily be the case when I emerge into the workforce as a young professional. I value my faith deeply but have not been in many environments that challenge or counter my beliefs. I left the message feeling encouraged to stay true to my values regardless of circumstance and recognize how much of a difference it can truly make if I choose to let it.”

 

The Lytle Center for Faith and Leadership exists to foster environments for individuals to grow in faith and character, equipping them with cutting edge leadership competencies, and developing them to be ambassadors of hope, peace, and life in their workplaces. The Lytle Center Speaker Series and the annual Abiding in Christ dinner events are just one example of the ways the Lytle Center strives to encourage and equip the students, faculty, and staff at Abilene Christian University.  More information about the Lytle Center can be found by clicking here.

Staff Spotlight: COBA Welcomes Jasmine McCabe-Gossett

Written by special contributor Lance Fleming

It hasn’t taken long for Regi and Jasmine McCabe-Gossett to ingrain themselves into the community of Abilene. The two ACU graduates – Regi in 2009 and Jasmine in 2010 – have become a vital part of the fabric of the city, each serving on boards and committees to help direct the future of Abilene, and each helping charities, foundations, and businesses in the city raise money.

 

Yet despite having spent the last three-plus years as the Donor Services Director for the Community Foundation of Abilene, something was drawing Jasmine back “home” to ACU. And that draw is why she returned to campus this summer, leaving the Community Foundation to become the new Professional Development and Internship Director in the College of Business Administration.

 

I’ve always had a connection to ACU; it’s where I earned my undergraduate degree, where I met the love of my life, and where I started my professional career,” she said. “Over the years, my involvement with COBA has continued to grow and evolve having served as a guest speaker, sat on the COBA Alumni Visiting Committee, and even teaching classes as an adjunct professor. Working with and teaching students has always been a sweet spot for me.”

 

But it wasn’t until she was in the process of interviewing for the new role that she truly understood that she was being called back to ACU.

 

“During the interview process, I unearthed Welcome Week pictures from my freshman year and felt a rush of emotions,” Jasmine said. “There were so many amazing experiences during my time at ACU that ultimately impacted the trajectory of my professional career.”

 

“I am forever grateful to those that invested their time in me sharing candid advice, empowering me to think outside of the box, and inspiring me to explore a career I never knew existed,” she said. “I am excited to serve and share key insights with COBA students as they prepare for this next season of their professional lives.”

 

And so, she finds herself back on campus, back in the building where she worked toward her Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resources Management, and back where she launched a career that has seen her go from Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas to Hendrick Medical Center to Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital to the Community Foundation. Each of those stops – where she’s done everything from human resources to writing business service plans to the creation of leadership and development programs to helping raise millions of dollars – has helped shape who she is as she begins her work at ACU.

 

At ACU, she will be executing the professional development program, directing all aspects of the internship program, and will serve as a member of the Holistic Student Development Team. She’ll truly be helping shape the futures of students each year.

 

“This job is truly the convergence of all the things I am passionate about: building relationships, coaching, mentoring, and teaching,” Jasmine said. “I’m looking forward to helping center COBA as an epicenter for top new graduate talent. I am also looking forward to building a pipeline for COBA alumni to connect with and mentor undergraduate students.”

 

“I can certainly attribute much of my career success to those that came before me and made a concerted effort to pay it forward,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the ripple effect that will continue after students graduate from COBA.”  

 

Neither she nor her husband, Regi, are from Abilene. However, they decided to stay in the city after graduating from ACU and have taken their love of the community and turned themselves into a powerful team. Jasmine currently serves on eight boards, while Regi has served on six boards and in 2020 was named one of Abilene’s Top 20 Under 40.

 

“The decision we made to put down roots here has been both motivating and rewarding,” Jasmine said. “Serving on nonprofit boards, in our church, etc., allows us to actively contribute to the exciting changes we want to see. We are honored to serve however we can.”

 

And it’s that heart for service and the love of building key connections that Jasmine hopes to pass on to the students she’ll be guiding at ACU.

 

“Much of my career has centered on building key connections both in the community and within organizations,” Jasmine said. “I’ve had the opportunity to both connect employee candidates to career opportunities they desire and philanthropists to community causes they are passionate about. Maintaining this theme of connection, the intersection of my experiences will allow me to connect students to career opportunities while also sharing key insights with students eager to learn how to authentically live out their faith in the workplace and beyond.”

 

COBA is excited to have Jasmine at the professional development helm. To learn more about the College of Business Administration and professional development, click here.

COBA New Faculty Member Dr. Joseph Manga

Written by special contributor Lance Fleming

Growing up in Cameroon as the oldest child in a family of five, Dr. Joseph Manga never imagined where his life would take him.

Four different universities for undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral work, as well as tutoring and teaching experience, have all been part of the experience. And this past summer, it led him to Abilene Christian University and the College of Business Administration where he is teaching Management Information Systems.

Manga now joins the full-time faculty as a tenure-track assistant professor of Information
Systems and Management Science. None of this was what Manga expected to be his life’s work
while living in Cameroon. But as he would come to learn, God had other plans for his life.
“As we know, many may be the plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord determines the end,” he
continued. “I began with Mathematics, did a little bit of Computer Science, and then moved on
to business (MIS). This all worked out because I didn’t just want to be crunching numbers and
not know how to interpret them. So, I developed my love for learning from my personal
experience. As an introvert, I thought that doing something that would keep me from talking to
people would be great. That’s why I’m so passionate about research. That was all my plan. But
God’s plan was to send me to love and talk to people.”

Knowing all of that, it still took a chance conversation with a friend that pointed him toward
teaching and meeting the needs of young people.

“I vividly remember sometime in 1998 a friend walked up to me and said, ‘I see you as a
teacher,’ “ Manga said. “I didn’t want to hear that because I never wanted to teach, partly
because of my personality. But as I applied myself to learning, I realized there is more to
teaching than just transferring knowledge. It involves mentoring and discipleship, which are
godly assignments that we are called to fulfill. I believe that teaching brings transformation to
many when it is done in a godly way. That’s why I’m excited to be part of a family and
community that focus on raising a holistic generation in terms of spiritual academic formation,
who will, in turn, move on to serve and transform their world.”

He’s also motivated by the memory of his father, who passed away last January. Manga is the
first person in his family to attain a doctorate, and he attributes his decision to reach the
highest level of education to his father, who worked as a janitor at the university Manga
attended in Cameroon.

“My dad was a strong motivator and proponent for pursuing education, which is a passion for
me now – to see young people educated,” Manga said. “As a janitor, my dad would wake up
very early to go clean the classrooms before students started classes. I still remember one
instance when my dad’s supervisor verbally demeaned him, and I felt bad. But I decided to get
to the highest level of education and use it to honor the janitors who keep our work
environment clean. It was an awful life experience, but it served as a challenge to the
educational experience I have today, which I see as a blessing.”

Manga earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Buea in Cameroon before earning a
Master’s of Business Administration from Midwestern State University in 2014, a Master of
Science in Management Information Systems from the University of North Texas in 2018, and
finally his Ph.D., in Business Administration from the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley in
2022.

During all of his academic work, Manga has continued his research in several different areas of
management information systems, technology, information security policy compliance,
business analytics, health information technology, cyber security, and many others.
“Research is a passion,” Manga said. It’s one way to apply my background knowledge in
Mathematics, which is problem-solving. Identifying problems and looking for ways to provide
solutions to these problems is what drives me into research. Finally, I see research as making a
little contribution to academia and giving back to the community.”

Manga has also worked as a Men’s Ministry Coordinator at Abundant Grace Community Church
in Edinburg and as a tutor while in Wichita Falls. And he’s kept up with a family that includes
wife Clarise and four children: Abijoy (9), Solien-Pearl (6), Zoe-Ann (5), and Joe-Praise (4), all of
whom he calls “inquisitive disciples.”

And now the family of six has found its way to Abilene and ACU where Manga is ready and
willing to serve as God leads.

“I am passionate to serve, especially in an environment that aligns with one’s beliefs and
values,” he said. “When the opportunity opened to be part of a culture and institution that
trains godly business leaders in whatever capacity they find themselves, I was glad to jump on
it. God opened this door and I love to follow His lead.”

Internship Highlight: How Alissa Davis Brought Comfort to Uvalde

Written by special contributor Lance Fleming

In most places of business, an apprentice is given a few days or even a week to get their feet wet and learn the ins and outs of the office before being fully indoctrinated into the ins and outs of the everyday job.

Alissa Davis didn’t have that luxury.

When Davis – who is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Digital Entertainment Technology (DET) with an emphasis on Video Game Design and is on target to graduate in May 2023 – started her apprenticeship with Funeral Director’s Life Insurance Company on June 1, she had no choice but to get right to work and help her co-workers make it through one of the saddest moments in the recent history of the country.

Just one week before she began, 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde lost their lives to a mass shooter. When Davis began her apprenticeship, she was immediately charged with helping to set up and monitor live streams of approximately 15 of the funerals that stretched over several days.

It was a tough and emotional task and one that Davis hasn’t fully put into perspective.

“I still haven’t fully processed the emotions that came with it,” said Davis, who is a senior from Stephenville. “There were several times during the services when I had to completely turn the sound off and momentarily step away from my desk where I was monitoring the live stream because I couldn’t handle the sound of the parents grieving for their lost children. There was always a tense aura in the department because we needed to do better than our best and ensure that everything went as smoothly as possible for those families and the community, who suffered great losses.”

Around July 1 when her boss returned from Uvalde, Davis was assigned a new responsibility to create short training videos for both new and regular clients to watch and learn how to use the FDLIC streaming product. Despite the difficult and emotional circumstances, Davis had quickly made a name for herself at the company. So much so that at the end of her apprenticeship, Davis was awarded the Performance Plus Award, which is awarded by the FDLIC’s Board of Directors and had never before been presented to an apprentice.

The award is given to an employee who shows outstanding qualities that fit several of the 22 non-negotiable traits of the company. Normally, the person who receives the award is recognized by another respected employee of the company and awarded at a company-wide meeting at the end of the month. However, Davis’s above-and-beyond effort resulted in her receiving this remarkable reward.

“I was stunned,” Davis said of the moment when she was announced as the winner of the award. “I knew that I helped the team, but I discredited myself as able to receive praise because I never went there personally or interacted with the people in person as the rest of the team did. So, when it came time to recognize the winners, I was completely stunned to see my name there.”

By the end of her second week, Davis said, she was fully trained and up to speed on almost everything a normal employee in the FDLIC Encore Department would know. The Encore Department is the technology used to live-stream funeral services.

“I had to quickly learn how to do so much more than an ordinary apprentice should in less than one week,” Davis said. “By my third day, I took on responsibilities as if I was another full-time employee because I wanted to do anything I could to help make the lives of my bosses and co-workers easier. They needed to put their focus and full attention on the devastating matter at hand and give the funeral directors on site their undivided attention and assistance.”

Davis – who said the greatest lesson she learned during her apprenticeship is that it’s OK to make mistakes – was on the job for two months and will have a full-time job waiting for her when she graduates. In the meantime, she was offered a part-time job when the apprenticeship was over and she’s currently working in that job until she can begin her full-time job. And after some time there, her goal is to pursue a career with her DET degree because her true passion is video game design.

She credited ACU and COBA with getting the apprenticeship and learning to use her imagination to be as creative as possible.

“ACU had the connections for me; I would not have learned about this internship in the first place without them,” Davis said. “Being at ACU has helped me come out of my shell, so I can take the leaps of faith and go for something I want. My time at ACU has also taught me to think quickly on my feet so that I can learn how to do what I need to do quickly to be able to give back to and help others.

“The best thing about being a COBA student is having the opportunity for freedom to create whatever I can imagine,” she continued. “And if I can’t do it because I lack the skill, I have friends and professors around me who can and are actively willing to help because want to see me succeed.”

Alumni Spotlight: Heath Beasley and Reagan Brown

Clay Development Partners Reagan Brown, Shane Seabolt, and Heath Beasley

COBA alums Heath Beasley (’16) and Reagan Brown (’19) are working to make their communities more connected places to live. Brown and partner, Shane Seabolt, founded Clay Development Partners, while Beasley joined their team shortly after. Clay Development Partners is a Dallas/Fort Worth-based real-estate development company focused on the single-family build-to-rent sector of the housing and rental markets. Their mission is “focusing on what it means, and what it takes, to build a true sense of community.”   The company strives to “create communities that are designed to promote a true sense of belonging and encourage daily neighborly interactions.”

They recently came to campus to speak with students in the Griggs Center’s CEO (College Entrepreneur’s Organization) weekly chapel about their real estate startup, sharing with students the reason for starting this particular kind of company, how they got started, as well as their previous work experience and how that helped them in this current endeavor. They also gave students a glimpse into their daily work life and how it is very different than what they’d imagined they’d be doing when they were ACU students themselves.

Beasley, with an undergraduate degree in accounting and a Master in Accountancy (’17), serves as the CFO of Clay Development Partners. He previously worked as a CPA for PricewaterhouseCoopers and for a year as the Development Officer for the ACU Athletic Department. Brown, who majored in accounting and finance, serves as President of Clay Development Partners having gained experience in the real estate market as a broker for Moriah Real Estate Company in Midland, TX and as a Development Associate for Republic Property Group in Dallas, TX. We asked Heath and Reagan to share a little about their work experiences and how their time at ACU influenced how they live out their own faith and the company’s mission with the people they come into contact with.

 

How does your faith impact your work? 

Heath: I am reminded of God’s grace every single day I am in the office. When challenges arise in the workplace, my faith reminds me that He is in control. Our core job at CDP is to build neighborhoods and communities that are welcoming and accepting; we also believe this is our call as Christians. While we may fall short of this often, we strive to represent Christ in the way we carry out business. 

Reagan: It has a huge impact. Every project we develop is focused on bringing people together. We try to design our projects in a way that allows the residents daily opportunities to connect and create meaningful relationships with one another. Ultimately, this opens the door for our residents to experience a kind of genuine fellowship that God wants for us.

 

Were there any big surprises when you entered the working world after college? 

Heath: Honestly, there were not many surprises coming out of school as COBA did a wonderful job preparing me for the working world. However, I will say the biggest challenge when entering public accounting is getting used to the ever-changing work schedule. Some weeks I could work up to 80 hours while others I could work only 20. All the work can be taught and learned over time; however, I don’t think anyone every really gets used to the long hours. The long hours do pay off though as those years prepared me for the role I am in today. 

Reagan: The world moves quickly, and it doesn’t slow down. I remember a professor at ACU that used to say “Time is money.” I didn’t think about it very much, but I do now.

 

How did your time at ACU shape your future? 

Heath: ACU shaped my future because it provided me with relationships that will last a lifetime. It is rare for me to go a full week without connecting with at least one ACU alum in some form or fashion. Sometimes we are trying to do business together and other times someone is providing me insight and guidance. ACU is an incredible place, and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to attend. Without ACU, I would not be doing what I am doing today. 

Reagan: While I would like to say I was an incredible student, I was incredibly average (ask my professors). When I think back on my time at ACU it was the relationships that carried the most weight. I connect and reconnect with ACU alumni on a weekly basis, many of whom were critical parts of us starting our company

 

Heath Beasley

What advice would you give to current students to prepare them for their future? What should current students take advantage of while on campus to prepare for their future?

Heath: My advice and what to take advantage of are the same. While still on campus, meet and connect with as many ACU students as you can. For me, these friends were in my wedding, have given me dental advice, have represented my wife and I as we bought our first home, have travelled the world with me, have provided me insight and guidance on how to make strategic decisions, and have also partnered with me in business. Most importantly, I married one those incredible people I met while at ACU.   

Reagan: Invest in relationships. Obviously, the coursework is crucial to your degree, but the relationships you invest in during your time at ACU will prove to be more valuable than anything else.

 

What is your favorite ACU memory? 

Heath: It is tough to pick one, but I remember going on a road trip my sophomore year to play baseball against Arizona State and Arizona. It was memorable because we played in the last game at Arizona State’s historic Packard Stadium. The crowd was huge for the game, and it felt special to be a part of history. Later in that same trip we ended up beating the University of Arizona in Tucson, this was our first win against a power conference in our first year of being a Division I program. We did not win a lot while I was there so that win will always stick out to me as a great memory. 

Reagan: Galaxy Sing Song (Sweep Song) 2019 

 

Did you have a favorite professor? If so, who were they and why were they a favorite?

Reagan Brown

Heath: It is tough to pick one as all of them impacted me in a positive way. Dr. Little taught me how to not take things too seriously and how to identify the aspects of a business I should really focus on. Professor Fowler gave me real life examples of how companies apply accounting principles and standards. Dr. Stovall taught me how to operate a company ethically and to always do right even if it is not necessarily the easy route. Dr. Golden’s marketing class was the most fun I’ve had in a classroom. Dr. Taylor spoke about scripture with a conviction I have heard from few others. 

Reagan: Professor Fowler was my favorite. Fowler once told me, “Someday you are going to be sitting in a meeting with your boss. Your boss will say, ‘Someone needs to go get some coffee.’ For the first few years of your career, your name is Someone.” Paying your dues early is important. I never forgot that.

 

What would you say to a prospective student who was trying to decide if they should attend ACU? 

Heath: ACU is a place for people to stand out and to have a more personal education. The smaller classes give you a better opportunity to learn and interact with your professors while also making it easier to connect with your classmates as you all work through the same course track. I had classes with the same core group from my freshman year all the way through the graduate program. We all got comfortable studying together, encouraging one another, and learning from each other. ACU has a culture perfectly suited for someone who is looking to surround themselves with students/professors who will make them better.  

Reagan: You won’t find a more well-connected community than ACU. I have various childhood friends who attended larger state schools, and they are consistently amazed at the amount of people I am able to connect with because of my time at ACU. It is a special place.

The vison of the College of Business Administration is to inspire, equip and connect Christian business and technology professionals to honor God and bless the world. As Heath and Reagan strive to live out that vision in their company, with the communities they are working to build and connect, and in giving back of their time and advice to current ACU students, we see that vision lived out in them. We’re thankful for alumni who seek to serve the world around them and make it a better place. As we tell our students, “Go change the world, Wildcats!”

 

 

Alumni Spotlight: Carlee Pruden

When Carlee (Finkelstein ’14) Pruden graduated from ACU with a degree in marketing, she wasn’t exactly sure what the future held. But, as they often do, an internship led to her future career. After interning for Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas post-graduation, Carlee has now been with the company for almost 8 years holding various roles in marketing, merchandising, and most recently as a merchant. As a merchant for tortillas, Tex-Mex, and salsa, she is responsible for selecting great-tasting items, negotiating the lowest costs, and giving the customers what they want and need in stores and online. Pruden furthered her studies at John Brown University graduating in 2016 with a Master in Business with a focus on International Business. She’s used her experience in retail to join in a class project for the past three semesters with Dr. Jennifer Golden.

Carlee assists and critiques students throughout the 7-week period of the accelerated course by working with Dr. Golden to create projects centered around her day-to-day duties as a merchant. These projects require students to think critically about who Walmart’s customer is, how to make their shopping experience valuable, and Walmart’s overall mission and goals.

This rare in-class opportunity has allowed students to gain insight into corporate marketing strategy and tactics and learn how these concepts relate to one of the largest employers in the world. Because of incredible alumni like Pruden, who give up their time to help educate students with real-world experiences, ACU’s College of Business continues to thrive. One member of the class said, “The fact that someone as successful as Carlee willingly sacrifices her time to teach us about what she does sets the example for future generations of graduates from ACU.” They continue, “Though this class is extremely fast-paced due to the nature of an accelerated course, it has shaped me professionally in ways I didn’t even think possible. I love that we can see what we learn be implemented in a real business environment.”

Carlee also benefits from the partnership with the class, saying, “Working with students is always a great reminder to always be learning. There are concepts they are being taught now that were not covered when I went through school, like digital marketing, that are critical to success in the workplace today. Students have taught me about upcoming technology ideas that can be applied in real time in my career.”

The seed for this classroom partnership was planted 10 years ago when Pruden was a student in Dr. Golden’s Introduction to Marketing course. Golden’s passion for teaching students about marketing sparked a desire to learn as much as possible for Pruden and many of the students in the class. Now, Golden and Carlee enjoy a friendship and mentoring relationship that has changed each of their lives for the better. Carlee says, “I am the career professional, wife, and woman I am today due to my time at ACU and my relationship with Dr. Jennifer Golden. When you sit back and watch Jennifer love God and love others it’s contagious. We have spent countless hours chatting about career life or family life, but at the end of the day, she always reminds me that our purpose in this world is to love God and love others.”

Golden’s example of loving God and loving others has spurred Pruden to action. Several years after graduating, Carlee realized that part of her passion for the community and serving others was not being completely filled by her job or other activities that she was a part of. To fill that void, she began getting involved with local non-profits and volunteering her time and talents to their causes. She has also been a part of Walmart’s Fight Hunger, Spark Change program for the past 5 years. As part of the campaign, Walmart has donated 7 billion pounds of food to Feeding America and their food bank network. In addition to her various philanthropic efforts, Carlee and her husband have 2 dogs, Barklee and Boone, and enjoy spending their time outside riding bikes, hunting, fishing, or trail riding in their side-by-side.

The College of Business Administration’s vision is to inspire, equip and connect Christian business and technology professionals to honor God and bless the world. Alumni like Carlee Pruden are walking, talking, real-life examples of that vision come to life as they inspire the next generation of COBA students.