INTRODUCTION

Background

Kevin is a twenty-one-year-old African American student who recently transferred to Oakwood Adventist University (OAU) from a community college. His family has ethnic roots in the Caribbean, Canada, and Africa. He was born in Mississippi and lives in the small town of Amory.

Kevin chose OAU because of its reputation as a historically Black institution of higher education with a strong Christian emphasis and academic program. It integrates faith and learning in a supportive context of caring and competent faculty, administrators, and staff. OAU is known as an institution of great opportunity and promise.

Oakwood Adventist University

The campus is strategically located on more than 1,200 acres of prime real estate, the former site of a slave plantation. OAU offers a variety of graduate programs, but Kevin has matriculated in the School of Business. A drawing card to OAU for Kevin is the newly developed Industrial and Technical Business Park. This development offers students the opportunity to gain valuable work study and service learning experience.

OAU, also known as a campus with a very supportive spiritual and social life, has a solid student body of approximately 2,000. While OAU is a private Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) institution with strong ties with The College Fund/United Negro College Fund (UNCF), it is decidedly Seventh-day Adventist (SDA). Further, OAU is known to value its students highly and to focus on student success. Both the alumnus who first told Kevin about OAU and journals identifying the best colleges and universities highlighted its strong student emphasis.

Kevin understands that SDAs are Protestants who are moderately conservative or conservatively moderate. He's not really sure which. They are Bible believing and grace-based. They also attend church on Sabbath (Saturday), believe that Jesus Christ is coming soon, and emphasize a healthy lifestyle. He also knows that they are people interested in service and making a difference in society. While he is not an SDA, Kevin does respect what they stand for.

Oakwood Experience

OAU was Oakwood College approximately three years ago, and while the graduate degree in business is relatively new, it is a strong program. Still, Kevin is a bit undecided about whether he will attend graduate school at OAU. He is, however, leaning in that direction.

The School of Business is appealing. Part of the appeal is the two dynamic research professors in Business and Information Technology. Both are Black educators who have spent time in the corporate sector. They have brought prestigious grants and contracts, thereby providing students with opportunities for groundbreaking research and actual publication. Further, they are caring, Christian teachers. Like many other teachers at OAU, aside from dealing with course content alone, they take time to understand and know the students and their needs.

There is another factor that influenced Kevin to attend OAU. He comes from a disadvantaged background and doesn't have the money to pay the hefty tuition of a private institution. However, because of the numerous work study options, industries, and extended programs at OAU, he is able to earn much of his tuition, room, and board. His plan is to go through school on a five-year package leaving minimal amounts to finance through student loans.

He divides his work time between hours at the technologically oriented industry located in the campus Business Park and building houses in Huntsville through a service learning program between the University and local contractors. He is delighted with the opportunity to integrate the practical and theoretical aspects of education. Kevin sees this as a balanced conceptual/practical approach to education. He feels that the OAU Aim: Education, Excellence, Eternity and Motto: Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve accurately sum up the mission of the 109-year-old institution.

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