As a 19-year old college student at Campbellsville College, Dr. Scott Bryan fell in love twice. Once with his then girlfriend, now wife of 37 years, Nancy and also with the idea of becoming a Christian College Professor.
“I sensed God calling me to be a Christian College professor,” Dr. Bryan said. “When Nancy and I began getting serious I remember telling her that I would never be rich, would always drive old cars but that this was a call on my life.”
After graduating in 1982, Dr. Bryan worked for two years at Merritt Island Christian School in Merritt Island, FL. before hearing God’s voice, calling him to pursue graduate school. Soon after, the Bryan’s packed their bags and moved to Tennessee where Dr. Bryan completed his Master’s in Health and Physical Education and began his Doctorate in Physical Education with a concentration in Exercise Science from Middle Tennessee State University.
While working on his doctorate, Dr. Bryan received a job offer from Bluefield College in Bluefield, VA. Both he and his wife were Baptist, therefore were familiar with Bluefield, a Southern Baptist College very similar to Campbellsville where they attended.
Dr. Bryan planned to stay at Bluefield for two years, long enough to get experience teaching at the college level.
“We stayed there 27 years,” Dr. Bryan said. “I turned down multiple job offers to go other places because we sensed a call to stay there. All three of our children were born there, I bi-vocationally pastored churches there as well.”
While at Bluefield, Dr. Bryan completed his Doctorate going back to school part-time over the summer.
What eventually led the Bryan’s to leave Bluefield was an experience with God.
“Our son Jeremy grew up and felt a call to ministry,” Dr. Bryan said. “Then we had an experience with God where we went from being Baptists to what I call Bapta-costals. Essentially, we discovered praise and worship, and the fullness of the spirit.”
The Bryan’s traveled to Emmanuel College with Jeremy to visit campus and felt God’s presence immediately.
Flash forward several years, Dr. Bryan continued to feel the stirring in his soul, God calling him to leave everything and everyone he knew and move to Franklin Springs. Although Emmanuel did not have an opening at the time, Dr. Bryan got his resume ready. When EC posted an opening, Dr. Bryan got in touch with his former student, Jason Croy who served as Emmanuel’s Vice President of Student Life at the time.
“I told Jason, I thought God was calling me to apply,” Dr. Bryan said. “It was hard for us, we were pastoring a large church and had been at that school 27 years so we had deep friendships there, but sensed a call here. It fits who we are theologically, there’s a real freedom here to share your faith.”
In his fourth year of teaching at Emmanuel, Dr. Bryan couldn’t be happier with his decision.
“Our students in the Kinesiology and Sports Management Department at EC are predominately Pre-Physical Therapy and Pre-Occupational Therapy,” Dr. Bryan said. “What we’re working hard on today is helping students realize what God is calling them to do and helping them achieve their career goal.”
Dr. Bryan believes that small class sizes and the 1-on-1 relationship he is able to have with each of his students plays a key role in helping students achieve their goal.
“I start every semester by telling my classes if they want to meet with me, go out to lunch and talk about their goals that I’m available,” Dr. Bryan said. “We’re blessed at Emmanuel to have small class sizes and caring faculty members who are willing to go the extra mile.”
Several Emmanuel graduates have gone onto Physical Therapy school, including two May 2016 graduates Jazmin Konnick and Phillip Loudermilk, who were both accepted into PT school directly out of undergrad. Dr. Bryan believes this attributes to the personal relationships students form with their professors, and not just in the Kinesiology and Sports Management Department.
“Any time a student from EC gets into a graduate program, it’s the English Department preparing them to write,” Dr. Bryan said. “It’s the Natural Sciences Department preparing them in anatomical foundation, us in the Kinesiology department preparing them in major, and the School of Christian Ministries giving them that moral and spiritual foundation. One of the things we’re blessed with at EC is that all of us work together for the common good.”
Something Dr. Bryan finds distinguishable about Emmanuel College is the way faculty, staff and students share their faith freely on campus.
“At Emmanuel, faith becomes interwoven as a part of the fabric of our class,” Dr. Bryan said. “When our students understand that they are taught a Christian worldview class and faith isn’t separate, they understand that I learn to look at my subject through a Christian lens, that’s very different.”
In his Nutrition class, Dr. Bryan hopes to help students understand how truly blessed we are to live in America with an abundance of food and resources. In order to grasp that concept, he gives students the opportunity to participate in a 30 hour fast through World Vision, a project that often changes their perspective.
“World Vision sends the materials and the students will choose a country to learn about and the percentage of the population that goes hungry,” Dr. Bryan said. “Then they reach out to friends and family as they wish to help fundraise for World Vision.”
According to Dr. Bryan, typically 95% of his Nutrition students will say, “I have never fasted,” and at the end of the project each student will do a presentation and 10 out of 30 students will fight back tears and say, “I never knew what it felt like to go to bed hungry, God really spoke to me about this and how blessed I am to have food.”
“I love being at a Christian College where I can tell my kids, there is a spiritual aspect to food,” Dr. Bryan said. “Jesus said “I am the bread of life.” It’s neat to integrate the scriptures and do a practical project to aid a hurting world, and our kids will say their favorite part of their Nutrition class was the 30 hour fast. Our class raised over $2,000 for World Vision this semester, 30 students.”
According to Dr. Bryan, a typical college class can’t change anyone’s life, but the gospel can.