Student’s Career Path Became Clear After Studying Liberal Arts

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Jacob Kirby Changed Plans From Music to Discipleship Studies 

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – During his sophomore year, Jacob Kirby (’16) felt a calling to switch his major from music education to discipleship studies.

Kirby told his music professor and mentor Dr. Paul Etter that his passion was in ministry — not music — and the professor responded with encouragement.

“He actually prayed for me, right there in his office, that God would guide me along the right path for me,” Kirby shared. “That’s the kind of people these professors are. To this day, Dr. Etter is still one of my closest mentors even though I’m not a music major anymore.

“Gardner-Webb is just so well-rounded in terms of the variety of courses students can take, both in the core curriculum and in electives … if I hadn’t experienced what it was like to study other courses besides music, like English courses and history and religious studies, I may never have known what paths were available for me to pursue,” Kirby added.

“I’ve got friends studying religion at other schools and there is really nowhere else that offers the blend of academic rigor and practical preparation for ministry that Gardner-Webb does. In a year, I’ll be proud to say I’ve graduated from Gardner-Webb’s religious studies and philosophy department.”

Since switching majors, Kirby has accepted several leadership roles on campus. He is coordinator of The Gathering, GWU’s student-led worship service, and is president of the Religious Studies Association. He is also coordinator of the Student Recruiter Ambassadors for Undergraduate Admissions and the membership chair of the Honors Student Association.

“The Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy has been a valuable resource is preparing me to discern and pursue my calling to ministry,” he affirmed. “I’ve been blessed by the opportunity to learn and grow and serve alongside faculty that are passionate about seeing me become a disciple-maker and advocate for the global church. Since switching majors, I’ve been challenged and strengthened in my calling to serve the church directly after graduating.”

He has accepted a position with a church in Columbia, S.C., that involves helping with a church plant in Lexington, S.C.  “I will be taking part in a year-long ministry residency with their worship team to assist in starting a worship team at the church plant,” he related. “The experiences I’ve had both in the ministry field and in the classroom have prepared me for full-time worship ministry after graduating.”

Located in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb University offers a comprehensive academic experience that introduces students to the diverse world of ideas and to the people who think them, preparing them for professional success and for productive citizenship.