Southern Adventist University has a good reputation for a number of reasons. Its successful academic programs, nurturing Christian atmosphere, and beautiful campus are perhaps the most obvious. One thing missing at Southern, however, is varsity sports. But for these three athletic students, the opportunities for spiritual growth at Southern were worth stepping away from the sports—even scholarships—available at other colleges and universities.
Silvia Bernard: Sophomore Social Work Major
Silvia began her college studies at Andrews University and from the moment she got there it had been her dream to play college basketball. This dream was almost fulfilled her first semester when she made the basketball team, but then stepped away to focus on her schoolwork.
The opportunity to play on the Andrews University girls basketball team presented itself again the next year, but once again Silvia declined the offer and is now attending Southern.
“It was a hard decision because I love playing basketball, but I turned it down because I had already decided to come here,” Silvia said. “I’m missing out on improving my skills as a basketball player, but I’ve been able to progress spiritually, and that is more important.”
Andrew Ashley: Freshman Social Work Major
Andrew grew up in Warner Robins, GA and was home schooled until high school. He began playing tennis competitively when he was 14, but his father had been teaching him and his twin brother the game since he was just two years old.
“I really didn’t enjoy tennis until I got to high school,” Andrew said. “But when I got to high school I realized that I actually had potential in the sport. In fact, my two brothers and I were the top three players on the tennis team, my sophomore and junior year.”
Andrew and his twin brother were informally recruited by Valdosta State University to play tennis. A potential scholarship was even on the table, but the brothers had other plans. God’s plans.
“If I had gone there I would have had to play on Sabbath and compromise my beliefs,” Andrew said. “I miss playing competitive tennis, but at the same time I know that my character has grown a great deal since I’ve come to Southern.”
Brandon Kroeger: Sophomore Nursing Major
College baseball coaches first started contacting Brandon about potential scholarships beginning in his junior year of high school. He had been playing competitive baseball since he was 13 years old and he had won the state championship four times. He had dealt with the Sabbath conflicts, stood up for his beliefs, and had still been able to be very good at his sport.
Martin Methodist College, Dyersburg State Community College, and Hiwassee College all pursued him heavily and offered him scholarships. One of the colleges even said they were okay with him not playing on Sabbath. None of this was enough to persuade Brandon.
“The reason I came to Southern was because the other places that I could have played baseball at would have led me away from God and I knew that. It took a lot of prayer to come to this decision, but I know it was the right one,” Brandon said.
All of these students were star athletes in high school and had the opportunity to use their talents at the collegiate level. For some, this would also have meant less student loans and debt—possibly even an ell-expense paid education. Evidently all the other things Southern has to offer were too much to pass up!