From the Students: Christian University at Gardner-Webb
Gardner-Webb's Christian foundation is important to students
in unique ways. Hear from current students about what it means to them.
Jonathon Rhyne, Freshman Marketing/Journalism
“I know that on my bad days, I am loved by a bunch of people who I don’t even know… Here, people do care about you, and they don’t even have to know your name.” (More)
Hannah Ray, Sophomore English
“Everything falls under that umbrella of 'Why are we doing this?' and a Christian University has the responsibility to do it because they’re trying to glorify God in all that they’re doing.” (More)
Jeremiah Hamby, Senior Psychology
“It’s more than going to Church on Sunday; it’s living in a community of Christian believers in everyday life and being intentional, being vulnerable with them, and the atmosphere at Gardner-Webb has really shown me that…” (More)
Caitlyn Brotherton, Senior ASL
“That’s what college is all about: figuring out what you want to do and who you want to be, and when everyone around you is pointing you towards Christ, it’s a lot easier to be focused on him.” (More)
Math Degree Offers Alumn Track to Career in Education
Kevin Parsons (’87)
Kevin Parsons imagined building a career on the racetrack. The son of NASCAR driver Benny Parsons, his aspirations were centered on stock cars, pit stops, and checkered flags. Yet his parents wanted their son to earn a college degree. He ended up at Gardner-Webb University almost by default.
“I had a cousin that was going to Gardner-Webb, so I decided to go there and room with him in good old Mauney Hall,” Parsons explained. “I still thought I was going to drive a race car for a living and the only reason I was going to college was because of my parents. No one in my family had ever attained a college degree and they really wanted me to go.”
Like many incoming students, Parsons wasn’t sure where to focus his studies. “When I took the placement tests during orientation, I found out I could attain a few free credit hours in math if I took calculus,” he recalled. “Once I earned an ‘A’ in that class, I decided to major in math, in which I had always done well in school.”
He remembers several instrumental individuals who impacted his time at GWU. Dr. Paul Jolley (then the chair of the math department), Dr. Gil Blackburn, and even golf coach Dr. “Doc” Garland Allen all played an important role in shaping Parsons’ future. “I tried out for the golf team and was fortunate enough to make it,” Parsons shared. “Doc was such a good man. I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing golf for Gardner-Webb.”
In 1987, Parsons graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. He immediately went to work in the racing industry. “Even though I won a few local short track races, I didn’t make it to the ‘big time,’” he stated.
About six years after graduation, he received a call from the vice president for instruction at Richmond Community College (RCC) in Hamlet, N.C. “He had heard that I had a math degree and offered me a chance to teach some developmental math classes,” Parsons reflected. “I loved teaching so much that I started graduate school in 1994 at UNC-Pembroke. When I graduated in 1996, I was offered a full-time instructor position at RCC.”
Following more than two decades as a math instructor at Richmond, Parsons applied for—and was appointed to—the position of vice president for instruction at Richmond Community College.
“A typical day is attending meetings to help the citizens of Richmond and Scotland counties develop a better life than they currently have,” Parsons shared. “We are trying to remove any barrier they may have that is preventing them from being successful.”
In this role, Parsons also serves as an advocate for the Gardner-Webb University Degree Completion Program (DCP), with RCC offering online and evening DCP classes in Hamlet and Laurinburg, N.C. “I am a big supporter of the DCP at Gardner-Webb, and believe the connection between GWU and our students has been a positive influence in helping them achieve a four-year degree,” he offered.
Although his vocational aspirations didn’t quite turn out the way he originally imagined, Parsons is grateful for the twists, turns and unexpected pit stops of his career journey. “For fun, I still do local racing,” he admitted. “I’ve been doing it for a total of 15 years and I love it now more than ever.”