Nathan Byrd

 

Class of 2011

Degree objective: Ph.D. in adult education

Other degrees: Master of divinity in pastoral care and counseling from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a B. A. in art from Georgia Southern College

University highlights, achievements and awards
The highlight of my experience so far has been meeting and working closely with my fellow students. While my job as a minister on campus puts me in constant contact with collegians, I rarely get to meet graduate students, especially those like me who commute to campus only a few days per week. I have met people in my classes that will be friends and resources for life. The adult education program is represented by a diverse body of students. Working and studying in such an environment has influenced my thinking and enriched my educational experience.

Since I am often on campus with work, it is difficult to separate work achievements from those at school. For the last two years, I served as the president of the Campus Ministry Association. In that role I was able to work closely with other collegiate ministers on campus and in the community as well as with university officials through Student Affairs. Again the diversity of relationships in this setting has served to improve my research and my work as a minister in the community. I was also able to offer prayers at the annual memorial service on North Campus and at graduation ceremonies in Stegeman Coliseum and Sanford Stadium.

Current employment: 
I am a campus minister with the Baptist Collegiate Ministries. I work with college students helping them to navigate their Christian faith while here at UGA. I do a great deal of counseling and I also supervise student leaders/teams who coordinate and direct our various ministries.

High School: Statesboro High School

Hometown: Statesboro, Ga.

I chose to attend UGA because... 
...attending the University of Georgia has been a dream of mine since high school. However, as a high school senior I could not get over my fear of the size of the campus nor the academic rigor that would be required of me, so I chose to stay closer to home for college. As a graduate student seeking a Ph.D. in adult education at UGA, I have enjoyed the vastness of the university community. I have also been able to maintain a 4.0 average while working full time and balancing family responsibilities.

My favorite thing to do on campus is...
…attend football games in the fall. Not only attending the games, but being around the whole SEC football atmosphere for game day is so much fun! I also enjoy walking around campus in the fall and spring. I have officiated at several weddings on campus and at the Botanical Garden.. Those are amazing and have made special memories for me.

When I have free time, I like...
… spend time with my family. Being a husband and dad are the most incredible things in my life. I also love to cycle! However, one of my sacrifices for working on my Ph.D. is not riding as much I would like to. One of my goals over the next few months is to get back onto my bike.

The craziest thing I've done is...
…ride my bike 300 miles to Jacksonville, Fla. during fall break! As a fundraiser for collegiate summer missions, the BCM sponsors a bike ride to Jacksonville each fall break. The first year that I went with the students, I made the silly promise that I would ride the whole thing the next year. The students remembered my promise and held me to it. I trained really well and actually rode the whole way.

My favorite place to study is...
…at home. I have a spot in the basement where I can hide if I need quiet, but I usually sit at one of our tables upstairs where I can hear or see my family while I work. I do my best work in huge chunks of time. I get up really early and work before and after my family leaves for school. But weekends are where I get most of my writing and editing done.

My favorite professor is... 
…Wendy Ruona is my favorite professor because she challenges me to be organized (a struggle for me) and to think beyond my normal ways of designing and phrasing research. She is an inspiring teacher who is very thorough. Each of my professors have taught me through his or her knowledge base, subject matter and teaching style. Each encouraged classroom participation through stimulating discussion and creating an environment where knowledge could be shared. It has been an honor learning from and with professors who represent the best and brightest in their disciplines. Through this experience, I have learned to treat those under my care and tutelage with the utmost care and respect as we learn together.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with...
…other than my wife it would be Bono. Hands down. He has applied his faith and deep convictions while using his vast fame and influence to accomplish so many things worldwide. His ONE campaign has brought awareness to the needs of worldwide injustice that are amazing to me. I would love to pick his brain over dinner.

If I knew I could not fail, I would...
…I would create a method for educating the church to the changing needs of emerging adults (18-30) while educating emerging adults to the value and purpose of the church so that both groups can have a starting point for communication in creating the church of the future. Both groups present a challenge. Each church is different. While most Baptist churches share a common doctrine, the way they do ministry varies. Teaching about what has been called a generation gap can be frustrating. Many young adults have written off the church as being irrelevant. 

After graduation, I plan to...
…keep doing what I am doing as a campus minister here at UGA. But I also hope to continue my research, expanding it to other groups of alumni, other campuses, and other campus ministries. I want to continue to write articles to educate various groups about my findings. I would like to teach a few classes locally to gain some classroom teaching experience. Sometime in the future I would enjoy teaching at a seminary.