Enrollment Numbers Create Opportunities 

dThis year, 3,125 undergraduate and graduate students are taking classes at Southern. The slight downturn in enrollment that the university has been experiencing the past two years was anticipated because the number of students attending Adventist academies has also been down. This is an opportunity for alumni and friends to become more involved ambassadors for Southern—we can all be recruiters! The encouraging news is that Adventist academy enrollment is going back up, so next time you encounter a high school student be sure and tell them about the good things Southern has to offer. Click here for more information for prospective students.


Alumni Highlights Title

Going to India to Find God
- Amanda Barrett Sager


Graduating from Southern Adventist University in May of 1979 was one of the most exciting and humbling days of my life.

Growing up in England in the ’50s and ’60s was a tumultuous time for me. Flower Power and the Beatles were very popular at the time and had distinct influences in my life. I attended a Buddhist monastery in Scotland and really liked it. I had been brought up in the Church of England but, as many do, I did not see a relevance of Christianity in my own life. I wanted to explore for myself and to find God, so with $500, a back pack, and one year open return airline ticket I set off to India.

After a sleepless night, I arrived at Heathrow airport excited and tired. I was pleased to see a lady with a large trunk with Bombay written on it in big letters. Imagine my delight when the same lady and her husband sat next to me. Her name was Joan, and she asked me why I was going to Bombay. After telling her about my quest, I asked her and her husband John about their reason for going; they were Christian missionaries returning to India after a furlough. I became a little uneasy sitting there with them. I told Joan that my brother had advised me not to get involved with Christians. How funny life is sometimes. The very thing we run away from, we end up becoming! 

After our arrival in Cairo, we were informed that our flight would again be delayed and that the airline was putting us up in a hotel until the next day. John quickly made the offer for me to room with Joan. These people were so kind! As Joan knelt beside her bed to pray that night, I asked her if she had a happy marriage. She replied that it was difficult to be upset with somebody when praying together daily. 

The next morning we had breakfast together and then continued our journey to India. Once there, my plan was to sleep in the airport for a few nights and wait, but John and Joan would hear nothing of it. I eventually ended up going home with John and Joan to the mission compound in Pune where I stayed for three weeks while waiting for my letter to tell me which Indian village to go to. Those were lovely times. When the church bell rang, I invited myself to attend with other members of the compound.

When my letter came, I went to my Indian village where I lived in a mud hut for four months. There I saw raw Hinduism and idol worship first hand. During my time in the Indian village, I met Christian doctors who invited me to their home.  Some pre-med students heard about a white woman in the village and brought me a Bible. I kept running into Christians everywhere I turned; it was all part of God’s plan, I’m sure.

After four months and many exciting adventures, I became ill. I received a letter from Joan inviting me to come back to the mission because they needed a helper in their school. I accepted the offer and the missionaries there looked after me. During that time, I attended church and found a truth that I had never heard. I did not know that Jesus was coming back to save us. I started to study the Bible, and a few months later John baptized me. What a day of rejoicing!

So, I was loved into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I had found the truth I was seeking, and the knowing that had been in my heart became a reality. All the missionaries agreed that I should go to America to a Seventh-day Adventist school and become a nurse. 

I ended up at Southern, where I received my nursing degree. I later went on to be a nurse practitioner and have lived out Southern’s mission by serving others every single day. I could not have done it without financial help from generous donors and alumni, and it is now my time to give back that which I received.  

I recently met with my financial advisor and he told me about forming an endowment fund that would provide nursing student scholarships until Jesus comes.  After receiving such an amazing gift myself, I cannot wait to share with others who are preparing for a life of service. It truly is a legacy. 

To learn more about how you can leave a legacy at Southern, contact planned giving at 423.236.2832, for more information check out their website.  


Alumni Baby Gift Program
-Melissa Guth, '14, alumni relations assistant 


When first grader Michaela Lawrence heard that she received a package from Southern Adventist University Alumni Relations she shrieked and jumped up and down. When her mother pulled out the insulated lunch bag, she was so surprised that she had received the present.

“I wish you could have seen her face,” said her mom Rebecca (Knoll) Lawrence, ’92. “She just started school this week and is very proud to be a first-grader. I read the words on the lunch bag and gave it to her, and you would think that I had presented her with a pony. She was so absolutely delighted and can’t wait to carry her lunch to school in the bag.”

The gift that Michaela received is part of the Alumni Baby Gift program. The goal of the program is to recognize alumni with babies with the hope that their children will one day follow their parents and attend Southern. When it started in 1992, children of alumni received a gift certificate for money off their first year at Southern. In 2006, Alumni Relations changed the program to make the gift more personal and able to follow the children as they grow. To celebrate the milestones of their lives Alumni Relations sends a bib when they are born, a snack holder at their first birthday, a lunch bag when they begin school, and a CD holder when they turn 16.

Lawrence is certain that her two children, Michaela, 7, and Matthew, 10, will be going to Southern when the time comes.

“We always talk to our children about “When you go to college, you will love what Southern has to offer,” she said.

Both she and her husband pray that Southern maintains its strong, spiritual stance and that it will be a safe, warm, encouraging, and spiritually-enriching environment when their children attend.

If you want your children to receive these gifts, email Alumni Relations


Community Connections Title

Impact Chattanooga and SALT Work Together
- Greg Wilson 


Southern Adventist University’s Soul-winning And Leadership Training (SALT) program is leading out in pre-work for a Revelation Today evangelistic series in October presented by John Bradshaw of It is Written. A group of local Seventh-day Adventist churches are working together with the 32 SALT students to reach out to the greater Chattanooga community; the area-wide effort is known as Impact Chattanooga.

This project gives students extra opportunities to receive mentorship in gospel work and quality leadership experience. The students are working closely with four churches throughout the city, and one of them is a church plant.

Southern students are also learning to make an impact through The Robert Pierson Institute of Evangelism on campus. It provides training and opportunities for students to spread the gospel both locally and around the world. Students who go overseas spend more than two weeks preaching an evangelistic series. Thousands have been baptized as a result of this mission-focused ministry, and the lives of students who have gone out have been enlightened and empowered.

Students who remain local and enroll in SALT, the semester-long evangelism training program, learn practical Bible work. The program was founded in 2011 as It Is Written ministries and Southern came into partnership. Its graduates are trained and prepared to work in full-time ministry.  

For more information about the SALT program, check out their website


Campus Life Title

 First Week of School
-Photos provided by Marketing & University Relations and Bryant Rodriguez, current student

bietz Convo convo
Dr. Gordon Bietz, University President, welcomes new students for the last time at the first convocation of the year. 

sc sc cs
Students explore the different clubs at the organizations showcase.

6 4 4
Brennon Kirstein, campus chaplain opens the Sabbath at the first Vespers of the year. 

Student Missions Return Retreat
-Rachel Halterman, current student


The Student Missions Retreat was held September 11-12 in Mentone, AL. Returning missionaries from around the world this past school year came to together to commune and share about their volunteer work. I was excited to attend because there hadn’t been adequate time to process my experience (I spent the summer away from home before coming almost immediately back to school).

We began the weekend by sharing the pain and struggles of the year with a small group. Hearing the stories of my friends about Africa, the Middle East, and South America helped bring my experience of living on a tiny Pacific island called Ebeye into perspective. I realized that we all had tough times no matter where we were, but our experiences were richer because of those struggles. And most importantly, God brought us through and made us stronger because of it all. At the retreat we symbolically left those things in the past and moved on by throwing our worries in the fire. It was so therapeutic to leave all my failures and frustrations as a teacher behind.

The next day we talked about the joy of our experience and learned how to share them in a short testimony. Hearing everyone’s struggles and joys helped me realize I’m not alone. At times I may feel out of place here in the U.S., but others feel the same way—there is a beautiful sense of community among the returned student missionaries.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” I can move forward now because I have processed my experiences, both the good and the bad, and I know it’s time for a new season of my life.

To help support student missions with your prayers, words of encouragement and financial gifts. Contact the student missions coordinator, Julie Norton at julienorton@southern.edu


Recent Events Title

First Kettering Health Network and Southern Alumni Meeting Held in Ohio
– John Shoemaker, '11 corporate and foundation relationship officer


For the first time in the university’s history, Southern hosted an alumni meeting in the Dayton, Ohio, area.

More than 400 attendees filled the Centerville Seventh-day Adventist Church on Sabbath to listen as President Gordon Bietz preached on the importance of Adventist education and the importance of looking at humanity through Jesus’ eyes. Bietz was also able to spend time with the church’s young adults as they prepare to make decisions surrounding life after high school.

The following day, Kettering Health Network CEO Fred Manchur and his wife Mary Kaye opened up their home to nearly 30 alumni and Kettering Health Network employees. Alumni learned about the LEAP program, as well as a summer internship program that will bring two biology students to Kettering Health Network beginning next summer as the interns perform research under the guidance of physician residents.  

Kevin Christenson, a senior international studies and management major, shared how his internships with Kettering Health Network and Southern have allowed him to experience a true sense of valuable community.

Bietz also spoke about the immense value Southern’s new student life center, a key component of the current capital campaign, will add to campus. “Would you build a house without a living room?” he asked. 

The shared missions of holistic lifestyle and service as well as a strong alumni base in the Dayton, Ohio area give reasons to believe that a developing relationship between both organizations will provide excellent internships, jobs and life-long relationships for Southern students for years to come.   


Upcoming Events

Homecoming Weekend

Homecoming Weekend 2015: October 29-November 1


Homecoming Weekend brings alumni back to campus for reminiscence and reconnection. It is also an opportunity to get caught up with the great things happening at your alma mater. All graduates, attendees, faculty, staff, and students are invited and encouraged to participate in the various activities planned.

Honor Classes: 1935, ’45, ’55, ’65, ’70, ’75, ’85, ’90, ’05

For updated homecoming information and to RSVP, visit Alumni Relations online. 

Southern Adventure in Europe Tour 2016


From May 29 to June 10, 2016, we will be visiting Belgium, France, Germany, and Switzerland. The cost is $4,600/person which includes air fare, lodging, ground transportation, sightseeing activities (20 estimated), and breakfasts/suppers.
A $700 deposit is due December 1, 2015. 

For more information and to reserve spaces, contact Alumni Relations by emailing alumni or by calling 423.236.2830.

Seven Bridges Marathon


The Seven Bridges Marathon is October 18 at 7 a.m. The race will take runners by the Tenneesee Aquarium, AT&T field, Creative Discovery Museum, across the Chickamauga dam, along the Riverwalk, through the Bluff View Art District, and finish at carousel in Coolidge Park. The entry fee is $125. Click here for more information.