Alumni Profiles

Sun Jin Jun, '12

Major: Business

From the very beginning, Sun Jin Jun, ’12, believed God brought him to Bryan, despite his efforts to attend a university in South Korea, his native country. The last five years at Bryan have taught him that his plans are flexible, and that God has a plan for his future.

“The process of coming to Bryan went so quickly, and I wondered if God was leading me here,” he said. “I definitely felt it after I came here in 2008.”

At first, Sun Jin disliked living in the “Bryan bubble,” but after serving his term in the South Korean military, he decided that Bryan was a unique place to grow and strengthen his fundamental  beliefs.

“I’ve really tried to grow a lot here – to learn the Christian worldview and build my core values. After coming back from the army, I became very thankful for Bryan and its professors. They are passionate about what they are teaching and they love the students,” he said. “No one else anywhere else asks for prayer requests at the beginning of class. It’s easy to take those things for granted, but I want to apply those things and share that same love with others.”

Sun Jin did not just graduate with a Bryan degree – the relationships and closely-knit community at Bryan will stick with him for the rest of his life, because, as an international student, he found Bryan to be a place where he could easily meet someone new and instantly feel connected and comfortable.

“Probably the most important thing I’ve learned is that no matter who I was, or what I did, all my friends and professors didn’t treat me differently at all,” he said. “I never felt like I was being judged because they just loved me and hung out with me. They made the Bryan environment very friendly.”

Since graduation in December 2012, Sun Jin hopes to put his economics and finance business degree to work at the Korean Theological Seminary in Los Angeles where his parents are on furlough. As the seminary begins its accreditation process, Sun Jin plans to use his English skills to help with documentation and meetings with accreditation officials. After six months, he’ll either find another job in the States, or return to Korea.

“I want to work in the business world, but I’m not going to limit myself,” he said. “I’m open to other options that God may give me. I’m excited to see the path God has for me.“

Bob Roden, '11

Graduate degree: MBA
Career: President of H.E. Parmer Co., Nashville, Tenn.

Bob Roden started his Bryan MBA program unemployed. Today, he is president of 124-year-old H.E. Parmer Co. in Nashville, Tenn.

He applied to the MBA program looking for two things: information to help him better market himself to new employers, and solid networking opportunities. With Bryan’s MBA program, he found both.

In Bryan’s MBA program, each group of students, or cohort, progresses through the program together. In Bob’s cohort he found a diverse set of skills and experiences which benefitted him and other members. “We had experienced human resources managers, sales and marketing experts, finance gurus, and mathematicians,” he said. They made themselves available to provide real life examples to textbook situations.

Bob went into the MBA program hoping to “gain some connection to the community and expand my education.” In each class, he sought to gage his past successes and failures by what he was learning. “Having this perspective pushed me to look for the practical applications and the chance to evaluate different possible outcomes,” he said. “Each class offers a different tool to gage your success.”

While earning his MBA “greatly enhanced the level of opportunity” for his career, Bob found the program much more than a career-booster.

“The MBA program teaches you the language of business and offers the tools to understand the needs of the individual,” he said. “From accounting to economics, from global business to communications, each segment of business has a specific language. The difficulty is how to manage people in every discipline of an organization and motivate them to their potential. The Bryan MBA touches on those key issues in most every class.”

The practicality of the MBA classes added to the value of the program, but the influence of the professors continue to have a lasting impact on Bob.

“Bob Andrews threw down the gauntlet at day one, saying ‘no one gets A’s in this class,’” said Bob. “I worked to disprove that and did so. He (Andrews) is a passionate presenter and challenged the cohort in worldview thinking. I also appreciated the opportunity to call him by his first name. Dr. Phil Lestmann presented the challenging concepts of statistical analysis, while offering solid tools for real life. Dr. (Sebastian) Vaduva offered insight into world markets in his class – everyone walked out of these evening lectures in full discussion of the topics.”

As he looks back on his time as an MBA student in Bryan’s AGS program, Bob urges those interested in earning a graduate degree to do so now, rather than putting it off until the “right time.” He praises the value of the experience, as well as the many opportunities earning an MBA offers students.

“The payback is yours for the taking,” he said. “And once you make the commitment, get to know your cohort. You will find yourself tutoring and being tutored on subjects through every means of communication possible. The program is designed for you to make connections and build partnerships.”

Allison Jones, '09

Major: English Literature & Communication Studies
Career: Contract Lawyer

English Lit and Communication graduate Allison Jones, ’09, chose Bryan because upon first visiting, she felt like she “had come home.” While uncertain as to what career field to pursue, she knew she enjoyed literature and writing, and so focused her studies there.

In the following years, professors urged her to consider law, and in 2012, she graduated from the University of Richmond Law and passed the bar exam. Today, she actively practices in the contracting department of a corporate bank.

Allison can attribute her initial thoughts of becoming a lawyer to Dr. Ray Legg and Col. Ron Petitte. A summer internship at a small firm in Richmond gave her the chance to shadow a lawyer, and consider what it meant to be a Christian in the field of law. She recounts the support of her professors through the process of planning her future. When communication professor Michael Palmer first heard that she was thinking about becoming a lawyer, he took Allison down to the local courthouse in Dayton.

“We sat through a session of court, and on the way back, talked about Biblical justice, and that’s when I started thinking about how maybe I could be a Christian and could practice law,” she said. “And Col. Petitte really walked me through all the steps toward law school.”

After passing the LSAT, Allison was accepted into the University of Richmond Law. When she thinks of law school, her carrel immediately comes to mind.

“Everyone gets assigned a carrel in law school – it’s essentially an assigned desk – and you spend a lot of time studying there, such as studying for eight-hour finals. When your entire grade rests on one exam, there’s lots of stress,” she said. “While you do study all semester, class is more of a discussion back and forth. You spend the majority of your time reading cases in preparation for discussion. You’ve got to know the facts and holdings of certain cases, and know the answers when the professor calls on you using the Socratic Method.”

“My first day of law school, I was called on to brief one of the most difficult civil cases,” she said. “I shook the whole time!”

Now that law school is behind her, Allison spends her days immersed in contracts, negotiating terms and conditions, drafting contracts, and going through “the entire process to put a contract together with any vendors my company might need.”

“It’s perfect for me – I get to work with words,” she said. “I draft, edit, and argue with people over words. I told Dr. Legg just yesterday that I had a discussion with my boss about where to place a comma – for 30 minutes. It really brought me back to Advanced Grammar with Dr. Impson.”

Allison still keeps in touch with Dr. and Mrs. Legg, “her second family,” and the kindness and graciousness of professors who welcomed her into their lives and took an interest in her own stands out among her memories of Bryan.

“Dr. Hollingsworth reached out to me when my dad passed away right after the bar exam – that meant a lot to me. Bryan is very academically rigorous, and it teaches you how to think,” she said. “But the professors are what makes Bryan truly unique.”

Emily Rivera, '09

Major: Communications

For Emily (Ricketts) Rivera, ’09, dreams of becoming a dolphin trainer have come true—after a detour through Disney World bringing Mickey, Minnie and other characters to life.

Emily practically grew up on the Bryan campus, playing hide-and-seek in Rudd or hanging out in the Lion’s Den.  When it came time for college, Bryan was the obvious choice.  “My degree was awesome,” she said.  “No school has better communications teachers than Bryan.  Mr. Palmer tells the best stories ever, and Dr. Hollingsworth can make Aristotle surprisingly entertaining.”

During her senior year she was accepted into an internship at Walt Disney World, where she performed in shows, parades as various characters, or in dancing roles.  After graduation she moved to Florida and worked for Disney for two years, playing characters including Mickey, Minnie, Daisy Duck, and Stitch.  During that time she started working at Clearwater Marine Aquarium with Winter, the “tailless” dolphin, rekindling her childhood love for dolphins.  “These creatures are so smart and relational,” she said.  “It proves to me we have a Creator Who is so detailed and cares so much about His animal creation.”

She applied for an animal training position at Sea World Discovery Cove, and credits her professors and the skills she learned at Bryan with helping her shine in the interview process.  Today, as a dolphin trainer, “I do animal interactions all day with the most amazing creatures. I use all my talents—acting, animal training, and on a good day I even might do a little dolphin dance.

“I have learned that God has given me the best family, husband, and friends a person could ask for. He is so good!”

Kathryn Rawley, '08

Major: Politics and Government

Career: Regional Sales Manager for Augusta Seed Corn

Kathryn Rawley, ’08, says she didn’t choose Bryan College, but rather, “Bryan College chose me.” In choosing a college, a strong volleyball program and Christ-centered Christian environment were her top qualifications, and after visiting a dozen other schools, she came to Bryan.

“From the moment I stepped onto the campus, I knew that it was different,” said Kathryn. “I immediately knew that God had led me here for a reason. The students were friendly and welcoming, the professors I encountered had a passion for their profession, and I immediately had a connection with members of the volleyball team when I practiced with them. I call it a ‘heaven opened and angels sang’ moment of my life.”

While at Bryan, Kathryn prepared for her career by building a strong foundation in both her education and faith. She said, “My time at Bryan reinforced my Christian principles from childhood and equipped me with the knowledge and education to begin my career. It did not take me long once I entered the workforce to realize how much of an advantage I had over others my age because of the strong education I received.”

Bryan’s personable professors shaped Kathryn’s college experience, and the relationships built with faculty members opened doors of opportunity. Colonel Ron Petitte paved the way for her to earn an internship with Walt Disney World, and later, Dr. Petitte supported Kathryn’s efforts to study abroad in Oxford, England.

“The Colonel always encouraged me to dig deeper and find out why something was the way it was,” she said. “He did not simply teach me about government, but he went further and taught me to open my mind and gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies of politics and government in America and around the world.”

After graduating, Kathryn put her Politics and Government degree to work right away – she even moved to Washington, D.C., before obtaining a job. Her time at Bryan and recommendations from professors helped her to earn a position as a staff assistant.

“I was completely immersed in the legislative process on the national level while serving in this position,” she said.

Her role as staff assistant set the stage for Kathryn’s next position in Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign. Within one week of starting her new job, she was sent to Virginia to open and manage a county’s first campaign office. There, Kathryn learned about giving her all in a hard-fought campaign.

“I recruited volunteers, scheduled high-profile events, and managed door knocking and phone banking in my county. Like most other campaigns, when a person signs on he or she eats, sleeps, and breathes that campaign until Election Day. The benefit is that you know, win or lose, that you have given everything you have to the cause,” she said.

Following the presidential campaign, Kathryn served Virginia State Delegate Jackson Miller as his chief of staff. While being chief of staff required her to serve in a number of roles, one of the most rewarding parts of the job for Kathryn was “being able to help constituents in her district work through governmental red tape.”

Today, Kathryn has returned to Georgia soil and now works for her family’s business, Augusta Seed Corn, as Regional Sales Manager.

“I served at Delegate Miller’s office for almost two years and decided I wanted to make a change. Politics was my passion, but I know I wanted to explore my options for a career,” she said.

In this current position, the majority of her time is spent traveling “from farm to farm to meet with customers regarding their corn crops,” and representing the company in a number of venues.

“I moved back to Georgia because I wanted to get back to my roots,” said Kathryn. “I grew up helping with the family business of selling corn and I really enjoyed the personal aspect of the job. It did and still does require daily contact with customers who rely on me to help them make decisions for their farms. If I’m not cutting edge with my knowledge, the results for them could be devastating.”

As Kathryn looks ahead to the future, she has no regrets, and knows that her “strong educational background and references from Bryan” assisted her early success.

“I am very happy with where I am in life, and my main goal is to continue pursuing the path God has for me,” she said.

Shunyale Griffin, '06

Major: Business Administration, AGS

Career: Program Manager for Interns and Co-ops at Tennessee Valley Authority

Hoping to boost her job into a lifetime career, Shunyale Griffin, ’06, decided to earn her undergraduate degree in business. She wanted to learn in a faith-based environment, and with a full-time job and two children, she selected Bryan’s Adult and Graduate Studies (AGS) program that meets only one day a week.

In Bryan’s undergraduate AGS program, each group of students, or cohort, progresses through the program together.  As an adult non-traditional student, Shunyale found her cohort to be more than just classmates – they became a family. The relationships built between her classmates and professors shaped Shunyale’s AGS experience, and even today she keeps up with her cohort.

“The professors we had were outstanding,” she said. “Each one made us feel like they cared and they made it clear that they were to help us accomplish our goal of graduation. The AGS professors had a genuine interest in our success. They helped bridge the gap into adulthood, building our confidence and self-esteem through the challenges of class projects and presentations.”

When Shunyale looks back over her classes, one professor stands out.

“Bob Andrews – he was not warm and fuzzy, but he gave us the confidence to go into the work force knowing that we could achieve and surpass the challenge of a high standard,” she said. “He didn’t just give us a grade, and even after we finished his class, he continued to push us to excel. I appreciated how tough he was. After he said no one could get an A in his class, I made sure I proved him wrong. When it came time to interview for a new position, my confidence and the skills learned in the AGS program put me in a position to actually compete.”

After completing her undergraduate degree in 2006, Shunyale began to look for an HR position. With no prior experience in human resources and only the experience and confidence she gained at Bryan, she applied at Tennessee Valley Authority. One-hundred-and-twenty-two people applied for the position she earned as human resources recruiter.

“By the time I graduated, I was really ready to promote myself – to brand myself for my future career,” she said.

Since then, she’s been promoted to program manager for co-ops and interns and oversees and manages the intern program for all TVA locations. Now that she’s made career gains, Shunyale is returning to the AGS classroom – this time as an MBA student with a concentration in human resources.

“Earning my MBA has always been a personal goal,” she added.

But now, as she labors over long nights of homework, Shunyale won’t be alone. Her husband has started the AGS undergrad program in business.

“Education is so important – not only for career goals, but for personal goals as well,” she said. “Furthering your education shows that you’re motivated and determined. There will be good days and bad days, and sacrifices have to be made, but the end product is so valuable. Your education – that’s yours to keep, and no one can take that away from you.”

Rachel Lonas, '06

Major: Secondary English
Career High School English Teacher, Stay-at-home Mom

Looking for a college that “unashamedly weaved faith and knowledge together,” Rachel Lonas, ’06, visited Bryan. Attracted to the campus’ intimate size, she knew “I wanted to be there the minute I started walking around.”

During her time at Bryan, she was not disappointed by her original impressions. The unique academic environment of intellectual excellence and the faculty’s genuine interest in their students both challenged and encouraged Rachel as she prepared for her own career as an English teacher.

“I had professors who were highly educated, Christian, and personable, which was a combination that really influenced how I approached my own teaching career,” she said. “Seeing literature through that kind of worldview lens is invaluable to your understanding of your subject and the world around you.”

To this day, Rachel values the continuing relationship with her professors, particularly Dr. Whit Jones in the English department and Dr. Steve DeGeorge in the Education department. Both men served to enrich her college experience with their wisdom.

“Dr. Jones is probably one of the most insightful, brilliant, and sincere persons I know. He elucidated so many poems and novels that I would have never understood clearly on my own. Dr. DeGeorge was always ready to give the class a good laugh and genuine encouragement when we came back discouraged from student teaching. I knew his office was (and still is) always open for advice and wisdom,” said Rachel.

Rachel’s years as a Bryan Lion also hold many memories outside the classroom. Some of her favorite experiences happened during her junior year, when her class grew increasingly close due to its small size. She served on SGA with many close friends, planning events for her class. Perhaps most memorable, she started dating her now-husband – Justin Lonas, ’06.

As she began her career as a high school English teacher following graduation, Rachel planned to teach in the public schools for years to come. However, after three years of teaching, her first daughter was born. Since that time, her time and energies have been dedicated to raising her family and homeschooling her two girls. Rachel considers both teaching in the public schools and raising a family equally challenging and rewarding.

“Truly investing in people is a tough and messy business to commit yourself! There are major highs and lows, all of which should point us to our Savior’s love,” she said.

Rachel and Justin live in East Ridge, TN, with their two girls. She blogs on the side about the nature of education

Nathan Magnuson, '05

Major: Business Administration
Career: Management Consultant

When Nathan Magnuson, ’05, graduated from Bryan with a degree in business administration, he moved back home to Kansas City with $1,000 in the bank and no job. In a race against time, he posted his resume on Career Builder and was hired by PNC Bank as a financial analyst. Since then, he’s served in the Army Reserve both at home and in Iraq, putting the lessons learned in the Bryan classroom to real world use.

“I was with PNC for a total of two years, and realized that [sitting in a cubicle] was not my thing,” said Nathan.

In the meantime, Nathan had joined the Army Reserve because he found a job in Civil Affairs Operations that included more hands-on business work than just sitting at a desk crunching numbers. He told the recruiters that he would only join if he got the job and received a specific signing bonus and start date. He was given the job, and while working his cube job at PNC, Nathan did reserve training on the weekends and in the summer.

In 2007, he was deployed to Iraq where he worked with a provincial reconstruction team with the state department and U.S. aid.

“I worked with a business advisor to a few Iraqi NGOs,” said Nathan. “We worked with the directors of the NGOs to clarify their goals and develop effective measurements to show the U.S. Aid organization where the money was going. We sought to help the Iraqi NGO directors tell an effective story of what they were doing with the aid money they received – showing that the money was making a difference in the lives of the Iraqi people while growing their industries. We estimated that 2,500 jobs were created as a result of small business development and microfinance.”

Since returning from Iraq, Nathan has worked with a management firm in Washington D.C., where he spent two and a half years working with the firm on several different projects with the IRS, FBI, and DIA to change work-force development.

“We worked with the FBI to change the orientation of the entire organization from successful investigations to proactively stopping incidents like 9/11 from occurring in the first place,” said Nathan. “We worked with their HR team to rebuild the leadership program from scratch, and developed different training programs for leaders at every level so that every leader – executive or entry level – was prepared to perform and ready to lead.”

Nathan now applies his experience to external management consulting as he helps organizations become more effective.

“I hope to help my clients think more specifically about what they’re trying to accomplish, and what solutions will work for them,” he said. “Everyone’s a leader because everyone has a level of influence, but most people don’t start thinking about leadership until they encounter a problem, or something in their environment changes – then they start thinking about leadership a lot. I’m here to make leadership more accessible.”

Nathan currently works as a leadership coach and can be reached through his website where he writes about leadership and how it applies to day-to-day life.

Jennifer (Parks) Schottleutner, '05

Major: Biology

Jennifer graduated from Bryan in 2005 with a degree in biology, then earned a Master’s degree in physician assistant studies. Because she particularly studied the disparity of HIV/AIDS in minorities in the U.S., God led her to a job at an HIV/AIDS clinic in South Carolina.

“I describe my job to others as ‘ministry on a platter,’ because almost daily I am able to share the Gospel with my patients in one way or another,” said Jennifer. “My patient population is hungry for hope, love, and very often, a second chance. It’s amazing to care not only for physical needs, but deep-seeded spiritual and emotional needs as well.”

Two years ago, Jennifer and her husband, Peter, ’05, moved into a lower income neighborhood, where they could live out the Gospel more practically. They hold a weekly backyard Bible club for about 20 kids, treat illnesses, tutor, house people who need a room, and share meals whenever possible.

“While at Bryan, I was taught that my spiritual life could not be separated from my career or my home life,” said Jennifer. “Christ, the hope of glory, is ‘above all, through all, and in you all’…Christ is the way…Christ is life. The ‘already, but not yet’ kingdom of God will come.  Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

Robert Carter '06

Major: Elementary Education
Favorite Course Worldview
Favorite Professor Steve DeGeorge

Robert Carter is a man with a plan. Although he recently graduated in 2006, Robert is already an assistant principal at an elementary school in Northern Virginia. His love for education began in high school on a missions trip to China. While on the trip, the leader got sick and Robert stepped in to help teach. For two weeks he taught everything from baseball to vocabulary. “I grew up in a big family which helped me communicate with kids,” Robert explained. “I knew I wanted to be an educator. The question just became: where?”

Robert (in red) as a Bryan student wearing a “Beat
Covenant” shirt and hanging out with classmates
He arrived at Bryan in 2002 and determined to be an elementary education major, even though he would be far outnumbered by females in his major. After his sophomore year, he spent seven months in China teaching English as a Second Language. “I

went with an organization called Bridging the World,” he explained. “I taught 8-12 year olds and really confirmed my passion for elementary education in and out of the country.”

When he returned to Bryan in the fall of 2005, he went back to his normal extracurricular activities which included serving as a resident assistant and traveling with the Worldview team.

“I realized that everyone has a worldview that they carry with them.

Worldview was a really important part of my education at Bryan,” Robert said.

When Robert went home for the summer in 2005, he called up an old friend, who was a principal at a local school, to ask if he would help him practice for his upcoming interviews. “I wanted an upper hand before I came back to Bryan to do my student teaching,” Robert said. What started off as a laid-back mock interview in khakis and a polo shirt turned out to be the interview that changed Robert’s future. At the end of the conversation, the principal asked if he could arrange for Robert to do his student teaching locally instead of in Tennessee. Dr. DeGeorge approved the position, Robert became an apprentice teacher.Dr. DeGeorge and I have kept a wonderful friendship and mentorship during my years away from Bryan,” Robert said. “During that first year, we talked on the phone every Monday to discuss how my apprentice teaching was going. He really walked alongside me through the whole process.”

While Robert was an apprentice teacher, he began taking all the tests necessary to get his Virginia teaching license. ”

Testing is a huge part of becoming a licensed educator, and I can say with confidence that professors at Bryan College prepared me for the rigorous teacher testing,” he said.

Robert easily transitioned from apprentice teacher to full-time teacher at the same school. He also earned a Master’s degree in two years, even though he was the youngest person in his administration classes.

During his second year of teaching, Robert became the sixth grade team leader, then science department chair in his third year. These leadership positions gave him the opportunities to write tests and choose curriculum. In March 2009, the assistant principal job opened up and Robert was encouraged to apply. After a multi-tiered interview process, he became assistant principal just three years after leaving Bryan College. His job required him to learn how to run a school building, support teachers, represent the administration staff, interact with parents, and make the right decisions for his students.

He cites former Bryan president Dr. Bill Brown as his example of how to be a good administrator. “When Dr. Brown was president my freshman year, he made it a point to know every student’s name within the first six weeks of school,” Robert said. “It has been my goal to know every kid’s name at my school as well.”

After the multiple transitions over the past several years, Robert is ready to settle down and enjoy developing his role as assistant principal. ”

I credit Bryan College with preparing me for my career as an educator,” he said. “The education professors were in tune with many of the education scenarios that I am dealing with in the classroom even in the public school arena.

Robert married his wife Elsie in 2007, and they have a beautiful daughter named Cadence.