Category Archives: News and Information

Bethel ‘Revs’ up Collin Johnson’s future

Bethel ‘Revs’ up Collin Johnson’s future

Many students are so inspired by Bethel’s Management & Organizational Development program that they dream of starting their own business. After all, the courses cover nearly every subject entrepreneurs need to know. But very few undergraduates actually launch a company while sitting in the classroom – and fewer still experience the success that student Collin Johnson has.

Johnson’s booming business started with a class assignment: Design a comprehensive business plan and present it to the class via PowerPoint. A former aviation maintenance specialist and licensed FAA airplane mechanic, Johnson dreamed of serving his community by combining his passion for business with his skills for vehicle repair. “As I put those ideas on paper, I realized it was a business plan I could actually use. Bouncing those ideas off the class was like having a room full of prospective customers.”

And that’s when Rev Powersports was born.

“I got laid off from my aviation job due to corporate downsizing in February of 2017,” Johnson explains. “I started working at FedEx, and it seemed like I was trying to open a door that wasn’t meant to be open.” So, while working and going to school, he began repairing ATVs and watercraft out of his garage. He joined forces with a partner who serves as head mechanic, and quickly built a customer base.

As demand for repairs of everything from lawnmowers to powerboats grew, Johnson rose to meet it. “I found a facility, invested some money, and it’s just grown from there,” he says of the Jackson-based business. “It may have started out of necessity, but it was fueled by desire and passion, and fed by the Bethel program.”

A native and resident of tiny Beech Bluff, Tennessee, Johnson attended four different colleges before finding his way to Bethel. None proved to be a good fit. Too often, he found that many of his teachers were grad students with no experience in the field, or the advisor-student relationship was nonexistent. Ultimately, he dropped out and got a job at a Cessna single-engine repair facility. While repairing corporate jets for almost four years, he discovered his love for management. But with more than three years of college and no degree, he had the nagging desire to finish what he’d started.

“My dad graduated from the Bethel Success program in 1999,” he explains. “He talked about what a great experience it was – and how perfect it was for busy adults.” The younger Johnson became the second generation to enroll in the MOD program and attend classes at the Jackson campus. “Attending class was one thing that really attracted me to Bethel. It suited my hands-on learning style,” he explains.  But what Johnson liked best was the interaction with other students. “Sharing experiences relevant to the topic in an open environment felt less like a chore and more like time spent with friends. My classmates were trying to improve themselves, just as I was.”

All of Johnson’s teachers brought real-world experience to the classroom. Among his favorites was instructor Charles Anderson, who taught Business Ethics. “He underscored the importance of ethics and morals, and the way you should conduct yourself in a business environment. Mr. Anderson was a company manager, so he effectively utilized both principles and application. He would tell us how to do it – and then tell you how he’d done it.” Ironically, Mr. Anderson was one of Johnson’s very first customers.

His last class now finished and graduation just a December walk away, Rev Powersports is thriving — and so is Johnson. With five employees, a 10,000-square-foot facility, and a supportive wife, he’s an exceptionally busy man who’s managed to juggle both goals and dreams.

But Johnson remains modest about his success, and credits Bethel for much of it.

“Bethel’s College of Professional Studies programs provide the best possible option for working adults, and an opportunity to finish what you started. I’ve tried them all, and this program is truly above and beyond,” he says. “It gives you unlimited potential.”

And, as in Johnson’s case, it might be just the thing to “Rev” up your future.

Student Spotlight: Chief of Police James Sukach adds Bethel degree to his arsenal

With just four classes left to go until graduation, Criminal Justice student James Sukach can look back on an academic journey that’s been anything but “uniform.” As Chief of Police in Big Sandy, Tennessee, he’s had a chance to improve the lives of the citizens in his care through his coursework.

The Connecticut native arrived in West Tennessee after a 21-year career with both the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard – most of it serving in law enforcement. In his final position, he was given the opportunity to choose from three stateside assignments. His first choice was Tennessee.

“There was an open position for a river-tender in Paris Landing,” he recalls. Having grown up in the tiny town of Hebron, Connecticut, the West Tennessee area seemed friendly and familiar. He took the job in the summer of 2009, working aids to navigation keeping the river channels marked for barges. The three-year tour of duty ended with his retirement from the military in November of 2012.

For the next three years, James searched for his next career and tried a little bit of everything: from a department manager at Lowe’s to driving flat-bed tractor-trailers over the road.  In the summer of 2015, while working as an armed security officer at Centennial Hospital in Nashville, he learned about an opening for a Chief of Police in Big Sandy. He put in an application, was interviewed by the mayor, and got the job.

It was all coming together: James had an exciting new position and a permanent home. The one thing missing from his life was a college degree.

“I had taken a couple of courses over the years, but just never had time to really focus on my educational goals,” he says. That’s when he heard about Bethel University’s online criminal justice program.

“It made professional sense to pursue a degree in criminal justice,” he says. “I had retired with post-911 GI Bill benefits which I knew would eventually expire. It fit my occupation and my goals, and I wanted to put those benefits to use.”

“All the local law enforcement – the Benton County Sheriff’s office, the highway patrol officers – highly recommended the program,” he says. “I checked the school out, and discovered it was one of only a handful of universities whose criminal justice program was endorsed by the FBI.” That stamp of approval meant a great deal to James. He did some research, made a couple of phone calls, and ended up talking to Bethel representative Rick Bankey.

“I had some butterflies in my stomach when I enrolled,” he admits. “But I had great support from Rick and the Bethel staff every step of the way.”

In fact, James says, he has “absolutely no complaint” about any aspect of the program. “From my advisor to the librarian to my instructors – I’ve received great customer service that’s been second to none.” And, despite his busy professional schedule and a personal life that includes his fiancée Sandra and three dogs, James has always found time for his coursework.

“For anybody who works a dynamic schedule, the online program is the way to go,” he says. “It’s nice that I can work on my assignments for the week when I can. The work is practical, applicable, and stress-free.”

James remembers attending Orientation in Nashville and hearing one of the presenters talk about needing to have “an appetite for learning.” James is hungry for his degree, and has learned to take it one bite at a time. The police chief urges other busy professionals to consider Bethel University. “After that very first course, I was like, ‘I got this.’ And if I can do it, you can, too.”


Bethel University receives Veteran Reconnect grant

McKenzie, Tenn. – The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) announced today that 14 Tennessee institutions of higher learning, including Bethel University, will receive funding and program support through the Veteran Reconnect Grant. The program is designed to assist veterans and service members in their pursuit of college degrees. Veteran Reconnect is part of Governor Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative to increase educational attainment in the state to 55 percent by the year 2025.

The 2018 Veteran Reconnect grants focus on improving the assessment of prior learning for student veterans returning to college. Prior learning assessment (PLA) at colleges and universities examines a veteran’s prior military training and grants equivalent college credit for those skills attained during service. This results in a student veteran completing their postsecondary credential in an accelerated timeframe.

Dr. Kimberly Martin, vice president of Bethel’s College of Professional Studies, helped develop the grant for the university.

“We are so honored for the College of Professional Studies and Bethel University to receive the Veteran Reconnect Grant from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission,” she said. “The College of Professional Studies already serves a large number of veteran students, and this grant will help us expand opportunities for these servicemen and women to earn college credit for their military experience.”

Dr. Martin stated that the program will help reduce the cost of earning a degree and the time required to complete a degree program at Bethel University.

Governor Bill Haslam, the driving force behind Drive to 55, noted that many Tennessee veterans put their education on hold to serve our nation in the armed forces. “As a state, we have an obligation to support them in completing their education,” Haslam said. “Through the Drive to 55, we can connect veterans with the postsecondary credentials that will help them further stand out in the workforce. Veteran Reconnect is one more way that Tennessee is investing in veterans and their future.”

To learn more about Bethel University’s College of Professional Studies programs or enrollment, contact representative Lance Tasker at (931) 444.9864 or For more information about Bethel’s benefits for military students, go to:

Bethel Birthday Bash: Essay Contest

It’s Bethel’s birthday – And our Essay Contest is one more reason to celebrate!

Bethel University is celebrating its 175th birthday, along with 175 years of life-changing opportunities! To highlight all that Bethel means to its students and graduates, we’re hosting a Bethel Birthday Essay Contest. The rules are simple:

  • Think about what Bethel University means to you, and how it has changed your life.
  • Write an essay of 175 – 300 words on the topic “I Believe in Bethel.”
  • Email you essay submission to PR Director Cindy Chambers at by April 14, 2017.
  • The best essay overall will win a $175 VISA giftcard!

The winner will be announced at the upcoming Bethel Birthday Bash at your local campus.

CLICK HERE to RSVP for a Bethel Birthday Bash near you.

Deputy Chief Barry Michael: Still More to Learn

Like so many Bethel alums, Barry Michael planned to graduate from college on a “typical” timeline. In fact, after finishing high school in 1979, the Jackson native went straight on to Memphis State University. But a year-and-a-half into his traditional college experience, he decided to apply for a job at the Jackson Police Department, and was hired. That’s when Barry dropped out of college to devote his life to law enforcement.

It might be typical to say he “never looked back” as he rose through the ranks, ultimately earning the title of Deputy Chief of Police. But that wasn’t the case with Barry.

“Even 34 years later,” he says, “I kept telling myself that I needed to finish my degree because my mom and dad wanted me to.”

As fate would have it, in June 2010, Barry attended a week-long law-enforcement seminar in Jackson, and it was there he ran into Ray Farris. Ray was working for the state, but “trying to help get Bethel’s new online Criminal Justice program off the ground,” Barry recalls. “I just happened to mention to him that I’d always wanted to go back to school, but my work schedule just didn’t allow it. And Ray said, ‘Brother, I’ve got something for you right here.’”

Ray told him that Bethel was starting its very first group of online Criminal Justice students.  The new online format, he said, would allow Barry to juggle his personal, professional, and academic responsibilities. Ray’s enthusiasm was contagious. Barry enrolled. And just 17 months later, in December of 2011, Barry graduated with that first cohort group.

His mother proudly watched him cross the stage to receive his long-awaited degree, but couldn’t refrain from joking, “‘It took you long enough!’”

Barry responded, “I told you that I’d get my degree – I just didn’t tell you how long it’d take!” Continue reading

Older, wiser, “greener”

At 52 years of age, Walter “Bubba” Mullen was a bit older than most of his MBA classmates. A bit older – but even more eager to learn, grow, and challenge himself.

“I believe that if you’re green, you grow; if you’re ripe, you rot,” he says. “I knew that pursuing an advanced degree would keep me ‘green’ a lot longer.”

Mullen, who now serves as Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Alfa Vision Insurance, was heading up the two largest global Information Systems projects at Nissan North America when he first heard about Bethel in early 2013. Despite his unrelenting responsibilities and years away from school, he made up his mind to tackle the MBA program. Just 18 months later, he earned his graduate degree.

“My MBA experience at Bethel was fantastic,” he says today. “First, I loved the fact that it was a conservative Christian school with a challenging curriculum. As I began to compare different programs, I knew I didn’t want to just send off a check and get a diploma – I wanted to really learn something. Bethel was highly rated, cost-effective, and I could complete the classwork at the pace I wanted to. With one class every eight weeks, it was fast but focused.” Continue reading

And all the Stars Aligned

I had been a Paramedic and in a middle-management role for several years and wanted to move up, but the requirements for promotion always seemed to be just out of reach.  They increased from an associate degree (which I had) to a bachelor’s, which I did not have. Despite continuing to take college classes here and there, it seemed I wouldn’t reach my goal in my timeline.  I couldn’t see the end.

During all this jumping around from one school to another, I also found that I needed more structure and face-to-face instruction to really grasp my education and where I wanted to go.  I began looking at schools that could help me reach my goals, and Bethel was right there. It was convenient, I didn’t need to miss work, and if class fell on a work night, I could schedule the time off in advance.  We met one evening a week in a small class setting, which really appealed to me.  Continue reading

The Benefits of a Bethel Degree

Kevin Carroll - Blog

I was in the first Nashville cohort class Bethel (then College) had in Nashville.  Before Palmer Plaza, we met weekly at a hotel on Music Row.  I graduated May 2, 2004, with a BS degree in Organizational Management.

I’ve worked for the Nashville Sheriff’s Office for over 25 years and I am currently the Director of the Security Services Division.  For the past 15 years, I’ve been assigned to the FBI’s Violent Crime/Gang Task Force out of the Nashville Resident Agency.  In December 2012, I graduated with the 251st Session of the FBI National Academy.  In 2014, my partner and I were peer-nominated and selected as Tennessee’s Top Cops by the National Association of Police Organizations.  We were recognized Nationally as two of America’s Top Cops, and presented that award in Washington DC.  In 2015, I was twice given the United States Attorney’s Office Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement.

My Bethel degree helped me move up through the ranks at the Nashville Sheriff’s Office and was instrumental in obtaining a command level position.  Additionally, the friendships I made during my time at Bethel have carried through to this day.  I have convinced several of my coworkers of the importance of completing their degree at Bethel University and many have done just that.

Kevin Carroll

Bachelor of Science – Organizational Management, Class of 2004

If you have a Bethel Success Story to share, or want to comment on a current story, please contact Cindy Chambers at We’d love to hear how your educational journey — or those of others — have impacted your life!

Recruiter Support

Jamie - Blog ImageNew Organizational Leadership student Jamie McDonald recently shared some words of praise with his recruiter, Patrick Adams.

“Hey Patrick,

I just submitted my final assignment for the Accelerated Prep Course (two days early). This is going to be fun, man. I just wanted to let you know that the fact that you took time to meet me and sit down and talk with me face-to-face had a lot to do with my decision to go with Bethel. The insight that you were able to give me from the real-life, honest, homegrown-student perspective gave me the confidence to make a go at the online program.

With my career requiring me to travel quite a bit and sometimes keep odd hours, I really don’t think that I could commit to physically attending classes with no interruption. I spent over two full months’ time traveling for a week at a time, spread throughout last year. I have been on the road about a month so far this year. I just spent the week before Orientation in Atlanta at a best- practices sharing conference.

Having this much control and flexibility built into an online learning program is ingeniously tailored for the student/professional. I can log on, pop in my ear buds, and attend my lecture from Dulles airport in D.C. if I want (and I know that I will, without doubt, be in that very situation at some point). Thanks, brother. I hope this feedback is useful to you. I thought that you deserved it.”

Jamie McDonald

Bethel University, Trezevant, TN

If you have a Bethel Success Story to share, or want to comment on a current story, please contact Cindy Chambers at We’d love to hear how your educational journey — or those of others — have impacted your life!