Author Archives: Terri Merrill

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!

The ‘Myth’ of Work-Life Balance

#9 Balance - Blog

I often hear people express their dream of achieving “perfect work-life balance.” While a wonderful goal, it is nearly impossible to achieve while tackling the multiple responsibilities of home, work, and school that are part of our busy lives. In fact, without focus, assistance, and a clear understanding of what “work-life balance” is, it may actually be beyond our reach most of the time. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to achieve … but we have to know what it is to embrace it.

So what is work-life balance? In my opinion, it is a very rare period during which everything falls into place. You have abundant energy, money, and time to achieve every responsibility and every goal you have in front of you. Put that way, it’s easy to see that work-life balance can be fleeting, elusive, and frustrating – and nearly impossible to maintain.

As a general rule, the life of a busy, high-achieving Bethel student represents more of a “juggling act” than a “balancing act.” During a typical week, something will be left undone, someone will be left unappreciated, and new tasks will crop up faster than old ones disappear. Oh, and then there’s the guilt that comes from not being able to achieve the balance we all hear of. Continue reading

Broken English


Using correct grammar has helped me in many ways. It is important to know the meaning of words and how to use them correctly. There are certain words that sound the same, but have different meanings. It’s important to learn the difference in order to speak and write intelligently.

Being a person that was raised in a neighborhood where most of the people spoke broken English, helped me to make the decision to be different. My parents invested in my education by sending my siblings and me to a private school. With hardly any money left over, we lived in a low income area where people communicated with slang and incomplete sentences. Continue reading

Sandra Kidd: An Unexpected Journey


On Sept. 11, 2015, Bethel University student Sandra Meshelle “Meesh” Kidd was set to celebrate.  Having just left a 15-year career at Life Care Centers of America, she was headed to a weekend retreat in Panama City Beach before the start of a new job in just four days’ time.  She was accompanied by some of her favorite people: her mother, her best friend, and her cousin. The four stopped for lunch in Tallahassee, and left the restaurant giggling like schoolgirls. They were headed to the beach — and Meesh was ready to start a new chapter in her life.

She couldn’t have foreseen that the “new chapter” would involve a journey through pain and loss.

Just hours after leaving the restaurant, Meesh’s car was T-boned by a vehicle going 60 miles an hour. After rolling three times, their car hit a fence post, before finally shuddering to a stop in a cotton field. Her mom, along with her best friend Karen, were killed on impact. Her cousin sustained serious injuries.  Meesh herself has no recollection of the crash. “In fact, I have 12 days of memory loss that starts after we ate lunch that day,” she says.

Meesh was unresponsive at the accident scene, and might have died were it not for a bystander who stopped and held her head as she gasped for breath.  When medical help arrived, she was quickly air-lifted to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, where she was placed on a ventilator for the next 30 hours. Continue reading