Growing in faith through higher education

Sep 24, 2020
Brandon Taylor

Newman student Brandon Taylor said no matter where he’s at or what career he is in, he just wants to help people. This is also the reason he doesn’t ever want to stop learning, he said.

Taylor already has two degrees — a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration, both of which he earned from Fort Hays State University.

Most people would stop there, but he heard a calling for something new.

While attending a weekly Mass, Taylor looked at his church bulletin and saw an advertisement for an educational opportunity: a class that would put him on the path to earning a Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from Newman University.

He enrolled and has been taking one class at a time for the last three semesters. He just started his fourth class and is excited about what it will entail.

Taylor is already living his goal to help others. After working for three years in the college admissions office at Fort Hays State, he now works as their special programs manager in the Student Fiscal Services office. His daily work includes helping students and their families navigate their way through the financials of earning a higher education.

His heart for service doesn’t stop in the office, however. He was recently named chair of the board for the American Red Cross Central and Western Kansas chapter. He has served as a member of the board since 2018 and was excited to take on a more active role within the organization.

Brandon Taylor (right) poses with Sherry Dryden, executive director for the central and western Kansas chapter of the American Red Cross.

Volunteering with the Red Cross brings Taylor full-circle with the organization who helped his family during a time of personal crisis. His life changed in many ways on May 4, 2007, when an EF5 tornado destroyed his hometown of Greensburg, Kansas.

“Our house was totally destroyed,” he said. “The Red Cross was there for us in so many ways. So when the opportunity came up to be a part of that organization, I jumped. I wanted to give back for everything they did for my family and this was a great way to do that.”

As chair of the board, Taylor has developed an initiative that has not been done before. He and his peers are getting ready to launch a 60-county virtual tour, during which he will meet with commissioners and representatives from each location.

“For me, I wanted to get a grasp of the 60-county territory. I feel like it’s best to get right on the front line and find out what’s going on.”

Final plans for the tour are still underway, but Taylor said he is excited to start meeting county representatives and let them know more about the Red Cross and what services the organization provides.

“The Red Cross is more than just collecting blood and disaster services; they provide many services that people may not realize. This tour will provide an opportunity to ask questions, get to know those city commissioners and really plug into their communities.”

He enjoys working closely with Sherry Dryden, the chapter’s executive director, with fundraising efforts and connecting with volunteers among many other things.

“I am really excited to dig in as chairman of the board. I look forward to helping get more businesses involved and just making a difference in people’s lives. At the end of the day, no matter where I’m at, if I can be helping someone everyday, I will be happy. I feel like that’s what my purpose is.”

The courses he has been taking through Newman University’s pastoral ministry outreach program have melded well with that purpose.

Courses like Introduction to the New Testament, Christian Morality and Social Issues, and Christology have helped Taylor see new perspectives and see the Bible as a library of knowledge. His instructors have challenged him to find deeper meaning behind what he is learning and there is much focus on recognizing the human dignity of every person.

“I think there are just so many topics I hadn’t delved into. These classes are doing that, making me look at things from a different perspective. Faith-wise, it just strengthens me. I never want to stop learning.”

His learning mentality, he said, came from his mother, a teacher. She instilled in him a love for reading and always made sure he was doing what he needed to in school. 

Taylor said diving into a pastoral ministry degree was not in his plans, but he believes life is made up of moments that happen for a reason. For him, that was seeing a church bulletin ad that turned into something bigger, something divine. He is not sure how this degree will work into his future career, but he feels it is well worth his time to explore the calling he was given. He is also certain that this journey fits into his passion for helping others.

“We are all lifelong learners of faith. It’s just a great way to strengthen my knowledge and faith. That’s going to come into play in my everyday life. I want to help others. I want to be that disciple of Christ.”