Spotlight on success: Seniors reminisce as they prepare to graduate

Spotlight on success: Seniors reminisce as they prepare to graduate

Photo courtesy of Noah Buhl

Treasure Hardwick, Staff Writer

Jake Auton, Christian studies and marketing major from Marietta, Georgia, spent his time at NGU exceptionally well. He came to the university with the mission of finding community and excelling academically. He achieved both. 

Whether studying for exams or leading a Bible study, he learned to maximize his time and be fully present in every way he could. While taking heavy course loads every semester, he still was able to work in admissions, play every intramural sport available, stay very involved in his church and even take on the role of student body president. 

He credited his ability to accomplish so much to his time management skills. 

“I had to learn how to balance everything,” he said. “I stay up later than most people and wake up earlier than most people. If I have two hours to get work done, I stay as focused as I can for those two hours to do what I need to do.” 

Though Auton spent his four years at NGU focusing on the goal to excel in academics, he also used his time to cultivate a strong community and grow his relationship with God. His favorite aspect of NGU and college in general is the friendships and people. 

“My favorite thing about this school is 100% the people and professors. If you were to ask anybody on this campus what makes this place special, they would say the people. I’ve made friendships here that are going to last a lifetime. I don’t think anything can top the people here. It’s something special,” Auton said.

For those who may be discouraged about how to balance schoolwork and friendships, Auton’s advice would be to “work hard and do your work.” Auton has exciting plans for after graduation. In June, he is getting married, going on a mission trip and then moving to New York to serve as a pastor.

Photo courtesy of Tonya Whatley

Jacob Whatley, a secondary education social studies major from Greenville, South Carolina, has impacted the people at NGU with his passion for others, and he will continue to make a difference in Greenville as a whole. 

Whatley grew up seven minutes from NGU, and he always knew that he wanted to attend the school.

Growing up, he wanted to be a teacher because of the profound impact that his own teachers had on him. He arrived at the university with a goal in mind. He wanted to get a degree and make a mark on those around him. 

Whatley’s favorite memories at NGU are the times he spent in the classroom bonding with classmates. 

“Even in classes like biology that I did not particularly enjoy, I was able to form friendships and bond with other people over the class. Even though it did not feel important in the moment, those conversations are some of my favorite memories,” he said.

Whatley’s favorite aspect of NGU is the small campus and the ability to make friends and build connections easily. 

“I have built relationships with my professors and made friends all over campus. The professors here want to know you. I have been to history professors’ houses for dinner, and they take so much time to get to know their students,” he said. 

Whatley’s advice for college students would be “to get involved in a community.” 

After graduating, Whatley plans to stay in Greenville and teach history at a high school. He desires to get students interested in the subject and influence them to want to learn. 

Photo courtesy of Angela Floyd

Melanie Floyd, English major from Woodstock, Georgia, transferred to NGU her sophomore year. Since then, she has grown and learned countless lessons about life and her faith. 

Floyd blessed the community at NGU with her participation in the concert choir and Joyful Sound. She tutored students at NGU and was also a member of the English Honors Society.

During her time at school, she learned the importance of studying scripture and the value of growing her personal relationship with God. 

“I would say that the biggest lesson I learned was to value my faith and what I was learning from teachers in the classroom,” Floyd said. “My professors showed me how to study the Bible, and I applied it to my life, and it helped me grow.”

Her favorite times at NGU were the moments she spent with her friends. 

“The best memories are the ones I spent hanging out with people in the same stage of life as me and growing with them and learning how to get stuff done but also laugh and have fun with them. It’s just fun to be with people all the time,” she said. 

Floyd finds NGU special because she has grown immensely while at the school. 

“I’ve had a lot of challenges, and I’ve just grown socially and mentally here. I’ve grown in my English classes and become a stronger writer and a stronger Christian,” she said. 

Her advice to college students would be to “get in community and enjoy every moment.”

After graduation, Floyd is getting married to Jake Auton and moving to New York. Her dream is to one day publish a book that incorporates her faith. 

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