Southeastern University first-year students began a new tradition this fall, one to which President Kent Ingle was happy to contribute.
Each week, new students participate in SEU 101, an eight-week course designed to help them adapt to college life and familiarize them with the wider SEU community. The course includes Life Journal discipleship groups and regular class sessions, as well as a unique opportunity called Presidential Sessions.
That's where Dr. Ingle comes in, as he has been leading morning sessions geared toward helping students discover their Divine Design so that they can make the most of their time at SEU.
"After giving it a lot of thought, I decided that teaching SEU 101 with our first-year students would be the best way to connect them to our mission of discovering their Divine Design," Dr. Ingle said. "I want each of them to discover their God-created talents, passions, and dreams."
Session topics vary, from spiritual gifts surveys to passion and interest identification. Not only does Dr. Ingle want to push them toward discovering their Divine Design, but he also wants to build relationships with the students. He uses a mix of lecture, question and answer, and detailed handouts to guide students through each topic.
During the session about identifying students' passions, for instance, Dr. Ingle emphasized the importance of students knowing what gets them excited and ready to do God’s work.
"When you're passionate about something, and when you follow God in that passion because He's given it to you, God will open doors," he said. "God will give you the answers. God will give you the creative insight, and you will take risks. You will do the unexpected."
Chelsea Hughes, a music education major from Leesburg, Florida, said she didn't expect to interact with SEU's president at all as a student. The sessions have shown her how Dr. Ingle cares for each student on campus, while also giving her practical steps to succeed during her time in college.
"The most beneficial parts of the meetings so far have been hearing how to grow spiritually and still focus on education," she said. "I also enjoy the notes that I can take with me and look over later to remember exactly what we talked about."
Curran McQuade, a history major from Denton, Texas, said interacting with Dr. Ingle has been one of the best experiences of his short time at SEU.
"I did not expect to see him on campus often, as presidents tend to be quite busy," he said. "Being able to speak with him before and after the sessions is also quite a unique experience, something that no other college offers."
Charlie Dawes, director of the First Year Experience, confirmed the uniqueness of SEU's Presidential Sessions. Based on the research the department conducted of other first-year programs around the country, no other school offered the same kind of access to its president.
For Dr. Ingle, helping students discover their Divine Design is his passion. He wants to see the resources from the sessions spread on campus and influence more students in the future.
"I want our students to capture the concept of Divine Design early on in their academic career," he said. "If they discover the way God wired their lives during their first year at SEU, then they will be in a great position to make solid decisions about their academic major and future vocational ministry."