In a special convocation yesterday on Faith-Informed Academics, three Belmont Deans—Dr. Phil Johnston, Pharmacy; Dr. Kathy Baugher, Enrollment Services; and Dr. Jack Williams, Health Sciences and Nursing—shared a bit of their personal background and the lessons they learned as they approached their careers.
Speaking in a panel format to a full house at the Bunch Library Multimedia Hall, Dr. Johnston opened the session with his early memories of wanting to be a garbage man. Though he loved the sounds of the huge garbage trucks rumbling down his street, his career desires ultimately changed as a teenager when the longing for a car set him on an unexpected path. “At age 15, I decided to get a job, and at that time my choices were either working at a grocery store or the local drug store. That set my fate. I found out at the pharmacy what I needed to be—someone who would help people.”
Baugher, on the other hand, admits that her career only makes sense in hindsight. Growing up, she felt drawn to teaching and majored in elementary education before attending seminary, assuming her life would be spent in mission education. What she discovered, however, was that her personality was a better fit elsewhere. “What I didn’t know then was that I am a bossy girl, and we bossy girls like to take charge and get things done. I really didn’t need to be an elementary school teacher because I would kill somebody… Administration became interesting to me, though. I’ve learned a lot about pairing ministry and vocation. In admissions, I get to interact with young people and talk about God’s purpose in their life.”
Though Williams grew up in church, he discussed reaching a point in his 20s in which he struggled with what to think about Jesus. He acknowledged that he went into science to get something he could wrap his arms around, something that would offer answers he wasn’t finding in religion. But a significant turning point occurred for Williams following an accident in which he barely escaped death from a falling tree. “For the next three or four months after that, I had a connection with God that I still can’t explain. It opened up my eyes to the idea that not everything is rational. I started opening up my heart to other ways of listening besides just my head.”