Growing up ten minutes away from the campus, Karis Brown thought her college decision would be a simple one. She would attend Emmanuel College, where her father and aunt attended, and she would study Early Childhood Education. But did God want that for her? This was the question she struggled with for much of her senior year.
“I went through a process during my senior year of high school where I learned about God’s plan for my life being better than my own,” she remembered. “At that point, Emmanuel was a part of MY plan. I had to back up, gain some perspective, and look at some other colleges.”
Ultimately, God revealed to Karis that Emmanuel was where he needed her to be.
Before stepping on campus as a student, Karis saw Emmanuel as a comfort zone.
“I attended Athens Christian School,” she said. “There are people that didn’t like the small Christian school environment, but that was not me. I loved that environment, so Emmanuel was a great option for me for that reason as well.”
Now a junior, Karis has gotten involved on campus through ELI (Emmanuel Leadership Initiative) and her work-study position with the Registrar’s Office.
“It’s weird to view my job as an extracurricular activity, but I do,” Karis said. “Everyone has to come into the Registrar’s Office at some point so I view it as being another opportunity to show kindness to people.”
While at Emmanuel, several people have impacted Karis’ experience, but none more than Pastor Tracy Reynolds.
“He’s always so kind, always smiling,” she said. “There’s a lot to say about Christian’s going the extra mile for people but I think for him it’s not even going the extra mile, that’s just him. That’s who he is.”
In the classroom, the Early Childhood Education major enjoys the fact that she’s not just a number.
“My teachers know if I’m there or not, and they genuinely care,” she said. “As far as being in the Education Department, they’re always asking for feedback on how my observations are going. They’ve become a lot more than professors, they’ve become mentors.”
Karis understands that by attending a larger university, her community could have grown wider but by attending an institution like Emmanuel, her community has grown deeper, something that is important to her.
As she prepares for student teaching and eventually her own classroom, Karis feels prepared because of her Education classes.
“Because I went to a small Christian school and hold Christian values, I know the importance of having a Christian worldview intertwined in what you’re learning every day,” Karis said. “Coming here, being in classrooms that are continuing that for me is important. At Emmanuel, I’m not getting your typical Education degree. I’m getting a degree that’s being poured into by different believers with different biblical perspectives.”
For a student like Karis who plans to use her degree outside of the classroom through ministry, growing in her faith while in college is important.
“I know God’s plan for me is to get an Early Childhood Education degree,” she said. “I may end up going the typical route and be in the classroom for 30 years before retiring. However, I have a huge heart for ministry so God could use my degree differently than most. Our professors are strong in the classroom aspect of my degree and in their faith, so whichever route I decide to go, I know I’m prepared.”
What advice would she give to other local students looking to apply to Emmanuel?
“Figure out for yourself what EC is really about,” she said. “Don’t base your thoughts on Emmanuel on what your dad’s told you about it or your dual enrollment experience. Look into the community Emmanuel can offer, take your eyes off of what you think is best for you and figure out the BETTER best that God has for you.”
When applying to colleges, Karis Brown thought the decision was a simple one. A local student, Karis planned to attend Emmanuel College, a place that had always been a comfort to her. However, it wasn’t until she turned that decision over to God that she felt at peace about it.
“Emmanuel was what I had planned,” she remembered. “But, if I would have chosen to come to Emmanuel on my terms, my experience would not be what it is now. From my perspective, it should all start with communication with God and finding out what He has for you.”