Camp REACH Visits Bryan College

Honesty Williams

By Honesty Williams, 13
For nearly five decades Lurone “Coach” Jennings pushed youth past poverty and complacency to prepare them for opportunities in education and careers.

This year is no different. He organized a camp stacked with experienced instructors and speakers like 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist Venus Lacy, Latonya Pinkard, the English instructor featured in the Netflix reality series Last Chance U, and Willie Kitchens, the former lead singer for the Impressions. The staff’s mission is motivating youth to reach their potential.

Jenning’s latest push came this month when Mary Walker Foundation Executive Director Adrian Edwards took 15 students to Bryan College where they toured the campus and exposed themselves to educational opportunities in Dayton, less than an hour’s drive outside of Chattanooga.

Edwards drove the bus to the college. “I hope the trip inspires students to want to experience campus life and learn what it takes to apply,” he said.

All the students participated in a college scavenger hunt, Bryan College Rising Senior Anna Domer led a campus tour and Camp REACH Intern Tim Rice joined Bryan professors in a basketball game.

“Sign me up now,” Isaiah Griggs said jokingly while walking the campus. He is a STEM Student enrolled in Chattanooga State’s dual enrollment program.

Bryan College, founded in 1930 and named after Attorney William Jennings Bryan, is one of only five colleges in the country where every subject is taught from a Christian worldview, said Christopher Beard, admissions counselor. The school’s mission is “Educating students to be servants of Christ to make a difference in today’s world.” So it doesn’t matter if the student is studying to be a minister or an electrical engineer, the entire curriculum is taught from a Christian perspective, he said during the tour.

The college includes about 1,500 students with some 700 of them living on campus. Beard said the smaller size lends itself to a better learning environment. The student teacher ratio is 12:1 so professors know each student in the class. And the professor is the actual person teaching the class, unlike some larger universities where the professor writes books while the general assistant teaches the class. Bryan College is so personable that Douglas F. Mann, the president of the college, gives his personal cell phone number to students during orientation.

Finally, Bryan College is the least expensive private Christian school in the state, said Beard.

Only UTC is less expensive by just a couple hundred dollars. Tuition is about $17,000 to $18,000 a year, about half of what other private colleges charge, said Beard. He also said Scholarships were available. Students may also save money by participating in the school’s dual enrollment program which enables a student to get up to 30 college credits for $200.

The school offers about 12 varsity sports and four club sports including martial arts, bass fishing, competitive cheer and shooting. There’s scholarship money available for all of those, he said. About 60 percent of the 700 students who live on campus are athletes.

The college tour is Jennings latest move to motivate students. He said youth don’t always recognize the value of education. But as his teachers helped him realize how education was vital in having a good quality of life, he wants to help others.

“I always wanted to be a trailblazer to guide others to see that light come on,” said Jennings.

“Once you get it (education), no one can take it from you.”