Meet Our Alumni – Part 2

Union University is known for shaping the next generation of great leaders. Our alums go on to elite graduate schools, meaningful careers and mission and ministry opportunities around the world. There are scores of Union alums doing amazing things, and here are some we would like you to meet.

Part 1


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“At a nonprofit, you are the whole communications team. Studying such widespread curriculum really let me transition well to this position.” – Chelsea Cobb Croom (’15) – Communications Coordinator, RIFA, Jackson, Tenn.

Learn more about Chelsea’s work with RIFA here.


alumni-ChadWilson-400

“A Union education completely transformed the paradigm through which I viewed my faith and the world. I was taught how to think Christianly, how to broaden my faith to affect every single endeavor and activity of life.” – Chad Wilson (’01) – President, Foundation Bank, Jackson, Tenn.

Read more about Chad here.


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“It is rare to find a school with such camaraderie. The faculty enjoy what they do. They pushed me to read widely, critically and charitably.” – Hannah Clardy (’12) – Doctoral Student, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Read more of Hannah’s story here.

Alumna Celebrates Jackson Community

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Katie Howerton said Union taught her what community is and how important it is to the lives of the people within it.

“Union taught me how to care so much about the community I was in that now I feel inclined to care for the community I’m in at work,” she said.

Howerton is the communications manager for Our Jackson Home, an organization created to celebrate the people and the stories of Jackson, Tennessee. A 2015 Union graduate, Howerton worked on the design for the Our Jackson Home magazine as her senior project.

She said in her time in the Union community, she slowly developed a love for the Jackson community. After she graduated, she said she wanted to continue working for Our Jackson Home because of the way it speaks to Jackson.

“I knew I wanted to do it, but I knew it couldn’t just be a hobby,” Howerton said.

She said Our Jackson Home was run by volunteers, and they knew that if no one took over to run it full-time, it would not last long. They asked her if she would be interested.

“It could have become just this thing that happened in 2015 if nobody took over,” Howerton said. “They said, ‘Hey, we know that you may not be super confident, but we’re confident in you, and we’re willing to take a risk.’”

Howerton said she is glad to have had Union as a training ground for her professional career.

“On top of training to be a professional, I also was given plenty of room to be creative, which was what first allowed me to come up with the idea for Our Jackson Home (magazine) and continues to allow me to run it,” she said.

Howerton said her professors at Union gave her direction, but they also set her free to follow creative ideas. She said that has helped her as she continues to develop ideas for Our Jackson Home.

“I don’t feel aimless because I don’t have specific directions,” she said. “I’m comfortable allowing room to explore.”160422_KMW_KatieWorking009160422_KMW_KatieWorking014

Rogers inherits her father’s love for Union

Lisa Rogers, portrait inside the Jackson ClinicLisa Rogers didn’t just learn about Union University when she started considering where to attend college. She had known about it all her life.

“My dad attended Union, and he was Union’s biggest fan,” Rogers says.

Rogers, a 1983 Union University graduate and a physician in obstetrics and gynecology with the Jackson Clinic, is the daughter of Melvin Williams, who was a longtime Baptist pastor in western Kentucky and West Tennessee.

“It was his habit to take juniors and seniors from his church to Union and make sure they had seen the campus and encouraged them in attending Union,” Rogers says. “They joked that he was an admissions counselor who was not on the payroll. He strongly believed in Union’s mission.”

Rogers had scholarship offers from other schools but said Union was where she felt she belonged. Participating in the Rising Senior Program as a high school senior solidified her decision to come to Union, and that’s a decision she has never regretted.

“It was a great place to grow, to have exposure to many different facets of life that I really had not seen before, to have professors who invested themselves in me, spent time with me, encouraged me, advised me, helped me to achieve my goals,” Rogers says. “Academically I was very well prepared to achieve my goals.”

Though those goals in high school included becoming a nurse, Rogers changed her mind when a friend encouraged her to become a doctor. She discussed it with her parents and prayed about the decision before determining God was leading her in that direction.

While at Union, she heard speakers such as Paul Brand, a missionary to India who took care of leprosy patients. Brand helped her to view medicine in a different light, and she says exposure to such speakers helped her to mature spiritually and to focus on practicing medicine in a way that showed the love of Christ.

Rogers with Phi Beta Chi members in 1981 yearbook

Lisa Rogers, second from right in the middle row, with fellow Phi Beta Chi members in the 1981 Lest We Forget. Phi Beta Chi was an honors physical science club.

Rogers’ involvement with Union didn’t end with her graduation. She became a trustee in 1999 and a few weeks ago was elected as chairman of Union’s Board of Trustees.

Like her father, she sees Union as a place where young people are taught to live out their faith in Christ in whatever their vocation.

“It’s great to see my alma mater continuing its mission,” she says. “Some other schools have felt they have to compromise their academic standards to keep their commitment to biblical truth, but Union strives for excellence. It’s an honor to be involved.”

Lisa Rogers talking to the pharmacist at the Jackson Clinic

Lisa Rogers in the Jackson Clinic

Mandy White: ‘When I walked onto campus, I felt at home’

Mandy White headshotMandy White had recently graduated from Union in 1998 and was looking for work. She was babysitting for a sorority sister, who informed her about a temp job at the Jackson Chamber of Commerce.

“Might as well,” White thought to herself. “I need a job.”

Sixteen and a half years later, White is still with the organization. Her temp job became a permanent administrative assistant job. From there she moved through the ranks as a coordinator, manager and vice president before becoming the Chamber’s senior vice president of economic development.

“I don’t think there’s a better place to become assimilated into a community than the Chamber of Commerce,” White says. “My role is to sell Jackson and Madison County to industrial companies looking at either locating a new operation somewhere or expanding.”

A native of Ashland City, Tennessee, economic development wasn’t in her plans when she came to Union. She majored in psychology, graduating in 1998.

“Union was the only college to which I applied,” White says. “I knew when I walked onto campus, I felt at home.”

White says Union provided her a tremendous amount of leadership opportunities through the Greek system and other student organizations. Since she didn’t know anyone when she began as a student, White had to learn how to network.

“Through those leadership roles, through the activities on campus, that helped prepare me for what I do every day now,” she says. “I talk with people every day that I don’t know.”

White originally planned to work for a social service nonprofit, because she enjoys helping people and giving back to the community. While that wasn’t where her path led, she still finds her work in economic development rewarding.

“When I drive by a plant and see a car sitting out there, and I know I might have had a little to do with creating that job and that disposable income for that family, that’s just as fulfilling as what I thought I might have ended up doing,” she says.

Mandy chats with a colleague at the Chamber Mandy works at her desk at the Chamber

From Differential Equations to Bank President, Grisham Values his Union Education

gary grisham headshotGary Grisham looks back on his time at Union with a sense of accomplishment – especially in one particular area.

“My highest academic achievement was passing Richard Dehn’s differential equations class,” Grisham says.

Nearly 40 years later, Dehn is still teaching math at Union, and the skills he taught to Grisham have paid off. Grisham is now the chairman and CEO of The Bank of Jackson and a strong supporter of Union University.

“I’ve always thought of my diploma as a stock certificate – that I actually own a piece of the campus,” Grisham says. “I think I’ve truly gotten a great return, if you look at in the financial sense. I do believe my degree is worth more today than it was even when I finished.”

A native of Memphis, Grisham transferred to Union after two years at a community college. He played baseball his junior year and basketball both his junior year and senior year. Baseball proved to be a bit of a stumbling block to him, because he failed Dehn’s class as a junior – which Grisham attributes to several missed classes because of baseball games.

Grisham with his college basketball teammates

Grisham pictured here with his basketball teammates. He is on the bottom row, third from the right.

His senior year, he didn’t play baseball specifically so he could focus on that pesky differential equations class. He made a B.

Grisham graduated in 1975, a member of the last graduating class on the old Union campus. He met his wife Susan while he was a Union student, and their daughter Mallory followed in their footsteps, graduating in 2009 with a nursing degree.

Through the years, Grisham’s love for Union has continued to grow.

“Union has always been a highly respected, highly regarded institution of higher learning,” he says. “Today, its light shines brighter than ever.”

 

Grisham's basketball photo and a photo of him escorting his wife at homecoming

Grisham escorting Susan Pittman, whom he would later marry, at a homecoming game | Grisham’s basketball portrait.

Grisham in his office

Grisham in his office

Grisham chatting with bank employees