Carol Davis Vernon '84
|Dr. Steve Bradshaw|
I met Carol Vernon at a pizzeria in Washington, D.C., just three blocks from the Capitol. Even though we graduated from Bryan 25 years apart, we both had taken classes from Dr. Steve Bradshaw. "He was my favorite professor," Carol said. "I had known I wanted to be a psych major since the 10th grade." She also knew she wanted to go to Bryan from a young age thanks to multiple family visits to the campus while her two older sisters attended. "I visited other schools but I just knew that Bryan was where I wanted to be," she said. "I remember that David Tromanhauser was the first person to welcome me on campus...and all of the freshman had to wear red and yellow beanies during freshman week!"
Carol quickly became involved in Bryan life by singing in musical groups, leading Bible studies for freshman, and serving as an RA. "Bryan was such a life changer for me," she said. "I was very shy but being at Bryan really helped me come into my own." It was while singing in one of Bryan's traveling music groups that Carol developed a friendship with her future husband, Randy Vernon. "Our first date was to Six Flags on Christian weekend. The trip had been planned by Student Council. We spent all day together and talked non-stop," Carol said.
Carol graduated early and moved to Chattanooga to work at Bethel Bible Village, a home for children whose parents had been incarcerated. "I grew up with six sisters and suddenly I found myself in charge of a house full of boys ranging in age from six to eighteen!" Carol said. A year later, in the summer of 1985, Randy and Carol were married and moved to a tiny town in Mississippi. "Randy got a job as the assistant pastor at a local church that we had visited when we were traveling and singing for Bryan. I worked at the church too, teaching piano lessons and preschool."
After two years, Randy decided to attend Denver Seminary. "He was encouraged to apply by Craig Williford, one of his favorite professors at Bryan." Randy was accepted and the Vernons moved to Denver where Carol worked in admissions at the seminary and began working on a master's in psychology. In 1987, their first daughter, Courtney was born, and Carol became a full-time stay-at-home mom. Their family continued to grow with Dane in '89, Garth in '92, and Brock in '95.
After several years in Colorado and a two-year stint in Atlanta, the Vernons moved to Johnson City, Tenn., to be closer to family. They got involved in a local church and were active in music and missions. After going on two international missions trips, Randy and Carol decided to move overseas to plant churches in Hungary. They began the arduous process of raising support and sold their home and most of their possessions.
As the date to leave the States got closer, however, their church had a change of plans and the Vernons ended up staying in the U.S. Shortly after this decision, the Vernons moved back to Denver where Carol continued to develop her passion for missions by working with international and refugee families. "It started off with me just doing simple things like helping them sign up for school or taking them to the doctor," Carol explained. She attended the naturalization ceremony of an Israeli friend and was so moved by the experience that she found an ad for the Civil Service Exam in the newspaper and decided to take the test. "No matter what it took, I wanted to be able to do those naturalization ceremonies," Carol said. Shortly after acing the test Carol became an immigration officer with the U.S. Citizenship & Naturalization Services under the Department of Homeland Security and within a year and half was qualified to lead naturalization ceremonies. Carol had a host of other duties ranging from interviewing candidates for naturalization to writing a lot of public information which you can see at www.uscis.gov.
After being recruited by headquarters in 2008, Carol moved to Washington, D.C., to work as a policy writer. "I write policy, guidance, and regulations in the area of permanent residency," Carol explained. "I also have legalization or amnesty as part of my portfolio, so have been heavily involved recently in preparing for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR), should Congress pass it. I have just prepared the forms for a legalization program and co-wrote the policy and regulations plan for our agency for CIR, at the request of our mother agency, the Department of Homeland Security. It has been interesting, to say the least, and it doesn't really matter what my own personal opinion is on the matter, as Congress sets the law and we merely implement it and provide regulations and guidance as to how we will implement it."
Although Carol loves her job she does hope to eventually move back to Colorado and possibly do more missions work.
"Bryan gave me such a good grounding in Biblical knowledge and taught me how to make it practical." Carol also looks forward to seeing old friends at her husband's 25th anniversary homecoming this year. "It's so easy to pick up with Bryan friends," Carol said. "We may all look a little bit different but we can pick up right where we left off!"