He bounded into the house with the kind of enthusiasm that can only come from excitement. His friend’s mother had gotten a new laptop, and she had offered him her old one. Shane Russell knew how much it would help him in his studies at Legacy Christian University. As he busied himself loading programs onto his new-to-him laptop, they talked about his experiences at Legacy so far. About how affordable it was for Shane as he worked himself through school. About the class he was taking and how his grades were going.
It was clear that Legacy Christian University was a perfect fit for Shane when he explained why he was thankful to have this university available to him. “I love how personal and caring every single staff member is to the students,” he said. “Their work ethic and actions prove they’re here to have their students succeed. They’re not just there to collect a paycheck. The professors are very well-educated and great at teaching.”
Shane currently leads worship at his church and holds another part-time job while also working toward his degree.
But it isn’t just college-aged students who roam the halls of Legacy. Larry Davidson, 37, has been working on his bachelor’s degree for 16 years. Born in Florence, he grew up in Tuscumbia with four younger siblings. Larry graduated from Cherokee High School in May 1995, and accepted God’s call into the ministry shortly thereafter. He preached his first sermon in August of 1995.
Larry has studied at Bethel College and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, but hasn’t had the luxury of being able to devote his attention to his studies full-time. In addition to pursuing his degree and pastoring a church, Larry got married and fathered four children. He also traveled the world as a soldier and as a preacher, serving as an assistant chaplain in the Army Reserves, and trekked as far as the Philippines on a mission trip.
Dr. Lee Barnett, Legacy Christian University’s president, pointed out that Larry “is an example of an adult who chose to come back to school in order to make a difference in his community.” Legacy’s degree programs and affordability are what allow students like Larry to continue on.
Larry knows the meaning of perseverance. He’s been working on his degree for quite a while now, but this May his persistence and diligence will pay off as he accomplishes that goal. He will graduate with his Bachelor of Arts in Religion.
Another Legacy student also knows the value of hard work. Brian Sarkisian, 28, has been persevering all his life. Before his second birthday, he underwent surgery to remove a tumor, but a nerve was damaged and that triggered a stroke. Brian worked with a speech therapist for several years to regain his speech and overcame many obstacles.
But the stroke had caused some facial distortion, and it left him with a learning disability with which Brian boldly copes. His reading comprehension is lower than average, so it takes him more effort to accomplish his homework. Nonetheless, Brian perseveres and studies diligently. Legacy’s programs and collaborative environment provide a flexibility that allows hard-working students like Brian to succeed.
“Brian is one of our hardest-working students,” says Legacy’s Dean of Students, Tim Payne. “He lives life to the fullest with never a critical word or complaint. He doesn’t let his disability define him or hold him back.”
Dr. Barnett agrees with that assessment and says that Brian is “an exceptional young man who has overcome a lot of challenges academically. His character and a lot of hidden potential led us to invest in Brian and his development as a student. He’s the poster child for true student success.”
Brian will graduate in May 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Religion and plans to pursue a Master’s degree and continue in ministry. He’s even considering the possibility of becoming a motivational speaker.
Currently located within the Whitesburg Baptist Church building, Legacy Christian University hopes to build soon and move into their own campus. In the near future, Legacy will be offering more degree programs to students of all ages and stations of life in our community.
Legacy Christian University seeks to educate students with the expectation that they will then use what they’ve learned to impact their communities – students like Shane, Larry and Brian. “A good institution,” Dr. Barnett asserts, ”doesn’t become great by turning people away. It becomes great by investing in them and equipping them to be the best they can be.”