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)

Student Combines Majors in Theatre and World Religions to Prepare for Ministry

Majors in Theatre and World Religions

Bekah Rhea

Bekah Rhea (’17)

“Theatre gives you so many skills that are useful in both ministry and life. Acting allows you to develop skills in presentation, communication, and professionalism so that no matter what field you go into, you can communicate well."

When Bekah Rhea (’17) of Knoxville, Tenn., was applying to colleges, Gardner-Webb University was one of 14 on her list. But after visiting the GWU campus, Rhea’s search was over. “Gardner-Webb was only the third school that I visited, but God made it very clear that this was where I needed to be,” she recalled. “After visiting, I cancelled all of my other college visits.”

She was also impressed with Gardner-Webb’s accessibility. Disabled from a birth defect, Rhea uses a motorized wheelchair, and she found GWU to be more accommodating than other schools. “I could easily find my way around, and find help when I needed it,” Rhea assessed. “That really swung me in favor of Gardner-Webb, because I could, as a disabled person, see myself living here fairly independently without it causing a lot of extra stress.”

And she has not been disappointed with her decision. “I absolutely love learning, and here at Gardner-Webb I have a community that encourages me in that,” Rhea explained. “I have professors who can point me in the right directions, asking ‘Have you read this?’ ‘Have you tried this?’ ‘What are your thoughts about this?’ Not only are professors willing to challenge me, but they encourage me, pray for me, and care for me as a person. I have friends here that foster meaningful conversations, and I have connections with both underclassmen and upperclassmen that I wouldn't have at a larger school. I can roll down the walkway, and in five minutes I could have said hello to 12 people, high-fived at least four, and hugged at least two. It's not that I'm famous, it's just...Gardner-Webb. You are noticed here. You are invited in.”

She’s majoring in theatre and world religions, a unique combination because of her varied interests and goals. “I was originally only going to have one major, world religions. I decided that would be best as I pursued a career in cross-cultural ministry,” Rhea offered. “But when I visited Gardner-Webb, I asked about the theatre program because I've been active in theatre since the sixth grade. The faculty won me over. I figured, ‘If I was going to keep theatre, why not go ahead and major in that, too?’ Theatre gives you so many skills that are useful in both ministry and life. Acting allows you to develop skills in presentation, communication, and professionalism so that no matter what field you go into, you can communicate well.”

Because of her work in the theatre, public speaking doesn’t make her nervous. She used this trait to her advantage when she presented her research at the Alpha Chi National Convention in Washington, D.C. She received one of only 12 national Nolle Scholarships for her essay “Not Quite Alive: A Discussion of Disability in Terms of Mortality.” The essay was also recognized with an award at Gardner-Webb’s Life of the Scholar (LOTS) Multidisciplinary Conference.

“Basically, my project explained a few facets of society's perception of the disabled,” Rhea observed. “I describe how research shows that society considers the disabled to be of lesser value, and ultimately already dead.”

A student in the University’s Honors Program, Rhea is active in clubs on campus and works in the Undergraduate Admissions Office. She is a member of the Honors Student Association, Student Government Association, Alpha Psi Omega (Theatre Honors Society), Theta Alpha Kappa (Religion Honors Society), Alpha Chi National Honors Society, and Religious Studies Association.

The combination of activities and classes have prepared her for the next step in her journey. “I feel super prepared to pursue graduate school, because of the education and affirmation I have received here,” Rhea expressed. “My higher level religion classes have been some of the most difficult of my college career, and yet I realize how much I've grown because of them. My calling in life has become so much clearer after going through certain classes, like Global Christianity, and realizing, ‘I love this! This is what I want to learn and apply for the rest of my life.’”

Gardner-Webb’s Christian community also provides support as she works toward her career goal. “It's comforting to know that at Gardner-Webb I am never far from someone who will pray with me, lend me an ear, or offer me some guidance,” she affirmed. “Gardner-Webb encourages my vision for ministry instead of expecting me to lower my expectations.”