Gardner-Webb Alumnus Discovers Passion for Working in Higher Education

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Collin Helms ’15 Wants to Help Students Achieve Academic and Personal Success

An image of Collin Helms, left, seated at his desk, advising a student, right, about financial aid.
Collin Helms, left, advises a student about financial aid.

While some students declare their majors as freshmen, Collin Helms, a 2015 alumnus of Gardner-Webb University, arrived at college no longer sure of his future. He had dreamed of becoming an architect, but his plans changed the summer before he started college. During a worship service at the camp where he worked, he distinctly felt God leading him to accept a scholarship from GWU.

Once he started at Gardner-Webb, Helms set about to discover why God wanted him at the Christian university. “After searching for the right fit within several other departments, I chose public relations,” he shared. “I have always been drawn to people and love spending time with others. I scheduled a meeting with Dr. Lisa Luedeman (assistant professor in communication studies). Not long into our meeting I knew this was the major for me. I had found a major that aligned with my personality and what I have always loved to do.”

Helms uses his talents as an assistant director in the Office of Student Financial Aid at Appalachian State University (ASU) in Boone, N.C. “I spend half of my day meeting with students who come to our office,” Helms related. “Those meetings give me a chance to positively impact students on a daily basis. I also love educating them about how financial aid works, and the steps they can take to set themselves up for financial success in the future.”

He’s also completing his Master of Arts in Higher Education Leadership and Administration and plans to pursue a doctorate. “Dr. Dee Hunt (vice president emerita of GWU Student Development) is the person who encouraged me to pursue this degree as she recognized my passion for higher education,” Helms disclosed. “I am passionate about serving students and helping them grow academically and personally.”

His experiences at GWU introduced him to working with college students. He was a Resident Advisor (RA) for the Department of Housing and Residence Education and served as a Student Recruitment Ambassador (SRA) for Undergraduate Admissions. His senior year he was SRA coordinator. He was also a member of FOCUS, (Fellowship of Christians United in Service), a campus ministry involving teams of GWU students who provide programs for youth groups at local churches. After graduating in 2015, he was hired as an Undergraduate Admissions Counselor at Gardner-Webb.

A portrait photo of Collin Helms, GWU alumnus“As a student, I valued the Gardner-Webb community more than anything,” Helms affirmed. “I was able to be part of numerous communities during my tenure at The Webb. I am incredibly thankful for the countless friendships and memories I made with people in my housing communities, my FOCUS team, and fellow Student Recruitment Ambassadors.”

Being part of the GWU Honors Program gave him unique experiences like swimming with manatees in Florida and visiting the Eifel Tower. Because GWU professors encourage class discussions, he had a significant advantage when he started graduate school in 2017. He was used to sharing his ideas on a variety of topics, and the GWU course requirements shaped his work ethic. “The excellent liberal arts education I received has helped me transition into the working world,” Helms asserted. “I feel comfortable managing multiple projects at once, and I feel as though I can provide a unique perspective and opinions about the future of higher education thanks to my undergraduate experience.”