Bulldog Stories

Current students and recent alumni share perspectives on the culture of learning and achievement at Gardner-Webb.

Karley Chavez Callejas on campus in front of lake

Karely Chavez-Callejas ’21

Health Care Management

“One of the most important things Gardner-Webb has taught me is how to advocate for myself. Our professors make themselves available to us, but we have to be the ones that seek help. They create an environment where we feel safe to ask for help and to ask questions when we are unsure of something.” 

Gardner-Webb made me feel welcome from the very first time I visited. I instantly felt at home. I have always been interested in doing something in the healthcare field, but business administration and management was also something that interested me, so I decided to major in healthcare management…

Kelsi Williams in class

Kelsi Williams ’18

Psychology major – Law School  

“My (GWU) professors taught me to be diligent in my studies, to be patient with myself, and to dig deeper when it seemed like I had hit my limit.” 

Inspired by her work with special needs and underprivileged children, Kelsi Marie Williams, of Lincolnton, N.C., came to Gardner-Webb University to earn a degree in psychology. “It broke my heart to see the living situations of children not even 10 minutes from my house,” she related. “That’s when the desire began to grow in me to be a child advocate. I also hope to be heavily involved in ministry, helping orphanages and homeless shelters.”… 

Sarah McManus with little girl patient

Sarah McManus ’17

Physician Assistant Program  

“The professors truly care about you, your wellbeing and your future. They will challenge you beyond what you thought possible. They will be there for you when you are struggling and will also celebrate your accomplishments with you.” 

The Gardner-Webb University Physician Assistant (PA) Studies program launched in 2014 with a mission to provide care to medically underserved people. Sarah McManus, a member of the program’s second graduating class in 2017, is fulfilling that goal. She works with her father in a rural family practice in Morganton, N.C…. 

Shelby Robinson in Pattaya

Shelby Robinson ’17

Biblical Studies major – Missions 

“At GWU, I was challenged to make my faith my own. For the first time, I found a faith that was personal and not passed down.” 

“When will you come back?” The children’s innocent question tugged at Shelby Robinson’s heart. The 2017 alumna of Gardner-Webb University had played with them all afternoon in a slum in the Philippines. Her visit was arranged by World Race, an 11-country, 11-month mission trip around the world. She wouldn’t be back. Tomorrow, her team would move to Cambodia, and then on to Vietnam, Kosovo, Bosnia, Romania, Zambia, Lesotho and South Africa…. 

Cedric Starr posing in front GWU backdrop

Cedric Starr ’12 and ’17

Philosophy and Theology major – M. Div., pastoral studies 

“The professors reminded me that I must have an open mind, and I do not know everything. They, in many ways, have strengthened my faith in Christ. They have opened up my mind to a broader understanding of both the scriptures and God. They have challenged my beliefs, and in doing so, have made me a stronger believer. They have given me the tools to study, teach, and live out the scriptures.” 

After earning his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and theology with a minor in classical languages from Gardner-Webb in 2012, he entered the GWU School of Divinity to prepare for the ministry. “I have always had a passion for theology and philosophy, because I love searching for the truth,”…

Alex Stewart in his workshop, making pottery

Alex Stewart ’17

Art major – Study Abroad 

“These have been incredible experiences and have matured my understanding of the pottery tradition and technical aspects of making.” 

Alex decided to attend Gardner-Webb University to pursue an education in discipleship. Then, his sophomore year he met a student who introduced him to the art of pottery. “I made a friend named Devan Vandenbark. He made some of the most beautiful mugs—perfectly poised and unique in character,” Stewart explained. “I realized then that handmade crafts are honest, personal forms—the products of divinely-endowed, creative minds at work. This simple beauty of life grasped my interest deeply, so I began to contribute to this tradition of beauty by learning the craft.”… 

Ivana Hughes in the courtroom

Ivana Hughes ’13

Political Science – Law School

“My classes at GWU taught problem solving, critical reading and analyzing. 

Besides being prepared for law school, Hughes is grateful for the friends she made at Gardner-Webb. “They are my best friends still today and I see them on a regular basis,” she shared. “When you leave GWU, you will leave with lifelong friendships, an increased faith, and with what I would say, is a top-notch education.”…