Henderson, Tennessee — (Dec. 7, 2023) — A scientist, a journalist, a law enforcement officer, a minister and a financial planner were among approximately 40 Freed-Hardeman University alumni to return to campus to share their professional journeys with current students during homecoming week in early November.
Now in its sixth year, ALUMination Day has grown from a single day to several days of alumni visits in classes as well as guest speakers in daily chapel. This year’s chapel speakers were Chuck Morris, class of 1995; Drew Kizer, class of 1997; and Elizabeth Gentle, class of 1996.
Gentle, a celebrated journalist and communication specialist with more than 20 years of experience in the news industry, served as the headline speaker. Gentle advised students to “let their light shine.” “Do good, and be a voice for the voiceless,” she said. “Be humble, work hard, pray daily and pray often. Take what you’ve learned at FHU and apply it to your life. One day you’ll be standing on this stage and talking about your career.”
Morris added some of his own advice to his message to students. “My challenge to you is to live your life looking forward; don’t let Satan trap you in the past thinking about the mistakes that plague your mind. Let God free you from that,” he said. “God wants to give you a life, a future and a focus. Of all of the things you can be in this life, I want to challenge you: Be faithful.”
Lt. Andrew Johnson, class of 1998, visited with social work and criminal justice majors to discuss critical skills they need as they enter the workforce. “Figure out what works as a coping skill before you begin your profession,” he advised. “You will be exposed to trauma, and you will need to find your happy place.”
FHU sophomore Bri Wilson took Johnson’s advice to heart. “I hope to work in mental health and psychology and targeting youth,” said Wilson, a criminal justice major. Two courses — Crime and Delinquency and Interventions with Populations at Risk — joined during ALUMination Days to listen to Johnson’s presentation.
Author Amy Anguish offered writing advice to students in professor Loren Warf’s Advanced Traditional Grammar class. “If you want to be a good author, you have to be a reader,” she said. “Read everything you can of all different genres. Write when and where you can (in small or large increments) and listen to it read out loud; it will help you catch issues that you might not catch with your eyes.”
Anguish graduated with a degree in English in 2004 and has since written 13 books and is currently working on her 14th effort.
“My goal with my writing is to glorify God,” Anguish said. “I want my characters to be Christians living real lives with real struggles that encourage them to grow closer to God.”
In the computer and science fields, alumni Andrew Hinson, Cameron Pierce and Seth Blackwell spoke to classes about their professions. “Try to build a strong foundation now and start building your professional network (classmates, professors, etc.),” Pierce said. “Look for a company that’s going to invest in your growth and help you grow. Don’t get discouraged if you are turned down for jobs. That will happen a lot.” Blackwell spoke about nuclear magnetism in gases, liquids and solids in Jim Barr’s chemistry course and shared his journey from FHU to Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Additional FHU alumni from other disciplines made presentations to students in November. The following alumni visited with current students this year: Emily Christensen, Emily Beard, Alaina Smith, Natalie Valentine, Austin Steel, Larry Bloomingburg, Amanda Kimpel Henson, Andrew Johnson, Andrew Philips, Daniel Arnhold, Kayland Boling Wilson, Lydia Edmonds, Mary Beth Seibel, Amy Aguish, Jared Pack, Kali Janes, MaryBeth Seibel and Nick Jackson.
Academics, alumni engagement and the president’s office host the annual event.
“As we reflect on another successful ALUMination Day, we are reminded of the profound impact our alumni make in their respective fields and the valuable insights they generously share with our current students,” said Dr. CJ Vires, Provost and Vice President of Academics. “This event serves as a testament to the enduring connection between our alumni and Freed-Hardeman University. It is our hope that the wisdom imparted by our alumni continues to inspire and guide our students on their own remarkable journeys.”
“The ALUMination Day tradition offers a tremendous value for our students to glean wisdom from alumni in their career fields,” said Chris Ramey, director of alumni engagement for Freed-Hardeman University. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to begin networking and establishing career mentors.”
The mission of Freed-Hardeman University is to help students develop their God-given talents for His glory by empowering them with an education that integrates Christian faith, scholarship and service. With locations in Henderson and Memphis, FHU offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees.