Eventually a graduate assistant job opened up in the Divinity School to work with one of my favorite professors who was also the director of Career and Alumni Services. She was finishing her PhD in Leadership Studies and her main area of study was burn-out in pastors. Through working with her I learned a lot about the importance of taking care of myself in order to take care of others. I also learned a lot about how to put together a résumé, interview skills, job hunting skills, and networking.
I was the Divinity School Senator for my second and third semesters in school. I had not considered how I would replace the 50% scholarship I had for that position in my fourth semester. When I realized I would lose it, I went to the financial aid office and begged them to help me. All the money had already been given away though and they did not offer me much hope, but said they would look at it again. In faith, I went home for Christmas and decided not to worry about it. Two days before Christmas my parent’s home phone rang and the call was for me. It was the school financial aid office calling to say they had given me a 50% scholarship for academic excellence and future ministry potential. It was the best Christmas present I could imagine! I ended my time at Regent with a 90% scholarship. God was so good to me.
When I graduated in May 0f 2006, the school held a commissioning service for the graduates. I wasn’t certain what a commissioning service was, but there was a nice dinner so I took my dad with me. I thought it would be nice to introduce him to all the professors I had told him so much about. When we got there, I looked over the program and realized that the school was giving out awards. My roommate told me she really hoped she didn’t receive any awards because she didn’t want to get up in front of everyone. I had the exact opposite feeling – like I would just die if I didn’t get something. After dinner and a special speaker, they began announcing awards. I was recognized for being one of nine students in the school nominated for Who’s Who. They went through numerous awards and my name was not called. I believed that every person who received an award deserved it more than I did, but I was really hoping for just one. I felt the sting of disappointment.
When they got to the last one, they said a few words about it. I wasn’t really listening. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself for not getting anything. And then the craziest thing happened – they called MY name! Shocked, I shot up out of my seat, looked around, and quickly sat back down again. I was confused. Surely I had misunderstood. But my dad was there telling me to go up on stage. My fellow classmates were encouraging me as well. Pat Robertson and the dean of my school were both there to congratulate me. I received a beautiful plaque with my name on it. I had received The Award of Excellence for the Outstanding Graduate in the School of Divinity. It was the highest honor and was given to the student who demonstrated the most potential for future ministry impact and took into account all aspects of one’s academic life – grades, extra-curricular activities, campus leadership, and so forth.
After that our professors walked around the room and prayed for each of the graduating students. I was unable to tell my dad much about my professors because they were so busy telling him what they thought of me. It was one of the best nights of my entire life. I was totally overwhelmed by the amazing things God had done for me. I went to Regent in a state of complete brokenness and fear and emerged as the top graduate.