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)
GWU Noel Program Helps Student Achieve her Educational Goals
Amber Smith (’16)
“My classes have been challenging, but I am prepared. In each class the expectation is for the student to learn the subject, but mostly to connect the lesson with life, so it can be beneficial for a lifetime.”
When Amber Smith (’16) of Shelby, N.C., arrived as a freshman on the Gardner-Webb campus in August 2012, it was less than six months after a car accident that almost took her life. In the wreck, she broke her right ankle, both legs, left hip, pelvis, and left arm. She endured a total of six surgeries to repair the fractures.
Despite all the time she spent in the hospital, she graduated with her class in June 2012, and her parents, the Rev. Gary and Patty Smith, didn’t let her postpone her dream of going to college. “My parents continued to say, ‘You are going to school no matter what, and you will be fine,’” Smith shared. “I am so grateful for their encouragement in keeping me motivated, because I was able to gain my independence and trust in myself.”
Regaining full use of her legs took three years of physical therapy, so Smith navigated campus in a motorized wheelchair. “The challenges were the little things like opening doors, getting through doors, and finding bathrooms,” Smith recalled. “I received a lot of help from the Noel Center (services for students with disabilities). The Center helped by adding wheelchair ramps to the older buildings and making entrances more accessible. They were truly supportive and really made a difference in my life, which helped me regain confidence in myself. I finally realized that I was going to be okay.”
While Smith credits the Noel Center for helping her reach her goals, Cheryl Potter, associate dean of the Noel Program for Students with Disabilities, was impressed with the young woman’s courageous spirit. “When I first met Amber I was immediately aware of two positive traits,” Potter observed. “First, I could tell she had a sweet personality and a good heart. Secondly, I noticed her determination to meet her challenges head-on and overcome them. Amber has been remarkable to work with, and I am proud of all her hard work in the classroom and the hard work she put into walking again. She is amazing, and I know she will be successful in her future endeavors.”
Smith had decided to attend Gardner-Webb even before the accident. She appreciated the University’s Christian community, and her mother is an alumna. “I like all the special events and programs that are offered on campus,” Smith assessed. “Dimensions features different speakers each Tuesday who talk to the student body about their own experience with Jesus Christ or give motivational speeches.”
Another source of inspiration was her involvement in several campus groups: the E. Jerome Scott Gospel Choir, Campus Civitan Club, Noel Student Advisory Board, Noel Mentors and Delta Alpha Pi Honors Society, which recognizes exceptional students with disabilities who have overcome adversities in the university setting. “I just love the energy and motivation I received from the different activities I was involved in on campus and in the community,” Smith noted. “When I got discouraged, the gospel choir kept me going, and it helped to talk with my friends from the choir.”
Smith chose to major in business because her goal is to someday own her own company. Until then, she plans to work in the banking industry and continue her education by earning her Master of Business Administration (MBA).
“In business you will always be able to do something or create something with meaning to help others,” she offered. “My classes have been challenging, but I am prepared. “In each class the expectation is for the student to learn the subject, but mostly to connect the lesson with life, so it can be beneficial for a lifetime.”