Not long ago, Charity St. Clair (’13) sat with fellow students in a criminal justice forum listening to a special agent from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) describe some of his experiences and exhibit his equipment. “We all thought that was really cool,” she said.
She recalls another forum where she spoke with a juvenile probation officer who revealed the challenges she would inevitably face working in the juvenile justice system. “Interestingly enough, after graduation, one of the jobs I took was with a juvenile justice boys program, and her words rang true,” Charity revealed. “God formed and grew me during those years,” she says of her time in college. “Hearing from professionals while I was a student helped to prepare me for that work.”
Each year, students across many different academic departments—including Bible, business, education, engineering, humanities, and natural sciences—glean invaluable wisdom from a variety of forums and seminars held on campus. Professionals share their unique experiences from their fields and challenge students to think outside the box when considering their futures.
Dr. Dan Rushing, who hosts the men’s Bible seminar each fall says, “We want our students to leave the Bible Seminar excited about what God has called them to do and better equipped to serve Him from what they heard in the seminar. It also provides an opportunity for relaxed fellowship with the Bible faculty.”
The forums are very practical and give students an idea of which direction to pursue after college. Students can ask questions and get specific counsel from the speakers. Academic Vice President Dr. Raylene Cochran states that the purpose of these events is “to provide an opportunity for students to hear from and interact with professionals in their field and to provide insights into their future careers.”
Marie Thompson, chair of the humanities department, states that in pre-law forums “students enjoy meeting attorneys and judges and getting their advice about how to choose a law school, which branch of law suits their gifts, as well as hearing about real-life courtroom experiences. It gives the students a vision of what God can do with a Christian lawyer.”
Past speakers include Dean Keith Faulkner, Dean of Liberty University School of Law; Attorney Tammy Gantt Jump, Assistant District Attorney in Arcadia, LA; and the Honorable Lacey Collier, Senior Judge, United States District Court, Northern District of Florida.
Last fall, Charity St. Clair came back to campus—this time to present her work with Rescue 1 Global, a ministry dedicated to rescuing victims of sex trafficking. “Coming back to campus as an alumna and speaking for the Criminal Justice Forum was awesome,” she said. “It was personally so encouraging to be on the other side of things and talk to students who were right where I used to be.”
Jocelyn Lacombe, a junior in the criminal justice program, attended the forum. “I’ve been attending the seminars for the last three years, and they all helped me choose which way to lean and what I don’t want to do,” she said. “I enjoyed seeing how passionate Charity was about her job. It made me want to feel the same way about my future job.”
After the event, many students approached Charity to ask questions and seek counsel for getting involved. “I think there are students right now who have already dedicated their lives to serving victims of sex trafficking and are preparing to go out and make a huge difference professionally and spiritually,” Charity said.