All in the Family
Christian Universities Online (CUO) recently recognized North Greenville University in its list of 25 best Christian colleges in the South.
Why did NGU make the cut? Our small, intimate student-to-faculty ratio; above-average retention rate; and perfect score of full-time beginning undergraduates who receive some type of financial aid — at 100 percent — are perhaps the main reasons.
Additional factors like selectivity and graduation rate pushed NGU up to spot #5 on the list, which highlights “the best of the best” in overall quality, affordability, and student satis-faction. In fact, NGU ranked above every other featured university in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Virginia.
But it’s the family feel that truly makes NGU live up to the title of a top Christian university, says Gretchen Durrell (MACM ’12).
“My grandfather Lawrence Erwin, Sr., (’44) — who was a pastor for all his life — was a student at North Greenville. And my father (’65) was there when it was the two-year college,” says Gretchen.
Gretchen, instead, did her undergrad at a state school. She never really considered continuing her education until the preschoolers in her Sunday school class started asking harder questions.
“I would often have to go to my pastor or somebody else for the answers,” she explains. “I decided to earn my master’s because I wanted to be sure that, as I was teaching the children that God had entrusted me with, I had a sound foundation of biblical theology.”
Gretchen says because of NGU’s reputation among her family and close friends, she knew right away it was the best choice for her. She enrolled in the Master of Arts in Christian Ministry (MACM) program.
“From the very beginning, it was just such a positive experience,” she says, recounting how Dr. Tawana Scott (’85, MBA ’08) in academic services helped her find scholarships and believed she could do the work. Scott and Gretchen’s professors also shared their wisdom and prayed with her along her journey as a student at NGU.
“It didn’t matter what they were doing; they stopped whatever it was when you came in to see them, and they took the time to really listen to any concerns or questions and to find the answers. I feel like they went above and beyond what any other school would have done,” Gretchen says. “They quickly became family.”
Gretchen says that the NGU family has never stopped supporting her, even providing guidance as she stepped into full-time children’s ministry soon after graduation and, most recently, transitioned to her current role as the minister to children and families at Greer First Baptist Church.
“My capstone project at NGU was about teaching parents that church is a partnership with them — that it’s not a place that they drop their children off to become disciples of Christ. They actually have a very big role that they play, and the church just comes alongside them to equip them,” Gretchen explains. “All that learning is now carrying over into this new position, because I will be ministering to the families, as well.”
Meanwhile, the next generation of Gretchen’s own family has started at NGU to prepare for her calling in life, too: Gretchen’s daughter, Amaris Durrell (expected ’21), is currently studying to become a math teacher at NGU.
“NGU has always been close to my heart be-cause it’s a family legacy,” says Gretchen.
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