It’s good to be back! After a bit of a summer lull, I’m excited to more consistently talk to you through this podcast again. In this new episode, I have a great conversation with Dr. Neal Cushman, the new dean of the BJU Seminary. In our conversation, Dr. Cushman and I discuss the history of the seminary, and its new and exciting initiatives.
This episode is also special because we introduce a new student host — Sarah Rumpf, a senior communications major. Sarah will join me each week to provide you with a student’s perspective, and to provide me with a little company! This week, Sarah shares with us how the students are handling the new health protocols BJU implemented this semester to combat COVID-19.
If you’d like to get to know Sarah a little better, you can listen below to the bonus episode I recorded with her. She’s a great student, and I couldn’t be more excited to have her co-host with me.
Finally, I want to encourage you to subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts. These are apps that you can download to your smartphone that make it easy to listen to our podcast while you’re doing other activities like driving or working out. It’s easy and free, so take advantage of it!
Transcript: “How the BJU Seminary Prepares Students for a Life of Serving Christ” podcast
Rumpf: Welcome to Highest Potential with Steve Pettit, a podcast that explores how Bob Jones University empowers individuals to reach their highest potential for God’s glory.
Pettit: Well, welcome back to my office for a brand-new episode of this podcast. The semester has really begun with a super-fast start. And so, we want to pick up this podcast after a summer break. Part of it was just because of the uniqueness of the time in which we’re living with today with the COVID-19. So, I’m just excited to talk to you more through this venue. I’m very excited to introduce our new student host for the year, Sarah Rumpf. Sarah, how are you today?
Rumpf: Great, how are you doing?
Pettit: I’m doing awesome. Tell us about yourself.
Rumpf: Yes, so I am a senior communications major with a business minor from Massachusetts, and I am so looking forward to co-hosting this podcast and sharing a student’s perspective of what life at Bob Jones looks like.
Pettit: Yes, I know a lot of people are very interested especially with college students today, and so, we’re just really excited to have you here with us. We’re going to publish a little bonus episode where I chat with you more in depth about your college career, how you got to Bob Jones University and what you’ve experienced. And where can the listeners listen to this bonus episode?
Rumpf: That episode, along with our other episodes, will be located on our Apple podcast, Spotify, or any other app our listeners find and listen to their podcast. For those who are new to podcasts, those are apps that you can download to your smartphone. They make it convenient to listen in your car, while you’re working out, or while you’re doing other chores. Through those apps you are able to subscribe for free, so that you can never miss an episode. Many of you listen on today.bju.edu, so you can continue to do that as well.
Pettit: Thank you, Sarah, so much. Well, on today’s episode, I thought it would be really a great idea to highlight one of the most important programs here at Bob Jones University, and that is the BJU Seminary. I was privileged to come here as a student and study here receiving my master’s degree, and it has been used to affect thousands of people who have gone into the ministry. So, today I’m chatting with Dr. Neal Cushman who is the new dean of the Seminary. We’re talking about the history of the Seminary and its new initiatives.
I do also want you to stick around after the interview, because Sarah and I will discuss how it is that we’re having a great semester so far here at the University despite the COVID-19 situation. All right, here’s the interview.
Pettit: Well, I’d like to welcome you today to our podcast, Highest Potential, here at Bob Jones University. I’m Steve Pettit, president here of the university, and it is my delight to have today Dr. Neal Cushman, who is the leader at our Bob Jones University Seminary, BJU Seminary. Neal, thank you for being here today.
Cushman: It is awesome to be with you.
Pettit: Well, for many of you who are aware of Bob Jones University, you will know that we have had a seminary here for many years, training ministers of the Gospel and servants of the Gospel to go out into the world. I personally am a graduate of Bob Jones University Seminary. I love the training that I received here, and of course, many of you know that since I have been the president, our seminary leader was Dr. Sam Horn, who is currently the new president at The Master’s University and Seminary in California. And so, Neal was working with Sam and is now leading the seminary. And so, Neal, we’re just really thrilled to have you. What we want to do today is really talk about the BJU seminary and along with that, where Bob Jones University is today in training ministers of the Gospel and servants of the Gospel. We have a full undergraduate program here at the university, but I want to speak specifically about the seminary. I came to the seminary when I graduated from college in 1978 because of the seminary itself, and I wanted the training here.
So, let’s begin. First of all, Neal, tell us just a little bit about the history of the BJU seminary.
Cushman: Before I do that, I just want to add to what you said. I’m a graduate as well, both the undergrad ministry program and the graduate program, so it’s quite a privilege to come back and be able to serve my alma mater.
BJ has a long history of training ministers of the Gospel, both men and women, and the school has offered graduate studies since 1932 and that eventually morphed into a full seminary. So, we have been training men and women in the seminary. We have, about 40% of our seminary are women. So, we believe and are committed to their training as well as to the men.
Of course, we’re very passionate about preaching, and we believe that men are to be the preachers. And so, we try our best to give them a solid footing that’s very practical, that’s church oriented, that equips them well to go out and be able to face the challenges that they have. There’s just so many challenges today; you can’t possibly cover that all in the curriculum, but you’re trying to give them tools that are necessary to be able to do that.
Pettit: And the emphasis here is, there are many seminaries in the United States and obviously, a lot of good ones. Seminaries have a particular emphasis, a particular focus. What would you say is the primary focus of the BJU Seminary?
Cushman: If you talked to any of our professors, and you could go even to the retirees, we have a long tradition of emphasizing Biblical theology, beginning with exposition and looking at the unfolding of Scripture and developing a biblical theology. And when it comes to systematic theology, we of course study that as well, but we are very careful about observing the tension that occurs between things that don’t seem like they go together, at least we’re not often able in cases to harmonize those things.
So, I think it would be biblical theology that would be the thing that we would emphasize in terms of preparation. Of course, we’re known for biblical languages as well. We have a very, very strong biblical Greek and Hebrew program. And preaching is a really big deal to us. Biblical counseling of course is important; we believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. Those are some key themes for us.
Pettit: That would be consistent when I was here as a student and found that the education was robust, it was challenging. I walked away with incredible professors and teachers who modeled and lived it out. So, tell us a bit about the faculty of the BJU Seminary.
Cushman: They’re fantastic. I really feel like my role is to talk about them and to help students to be able to get into our programs and sit under their tutelage because they are just amazing people. All of them are involved in their local churches. A number of them are pastors, but those that aren’t pastors are very active in teaching roles in the church and other administrative roles …
Cushman: They are authors as well. We have emphasized writing and so, in the last 20 years, our faculty – and it’s not a huge faculty – but they’ve written and published 40 books and they’re continuing to do so. I’m hearing all the time about the progress that they’re making. They’re writing journal articles and book reviews and just all kinds that speak into the Church …
Cushman: … and the things that the Church is facing.
Pettit: Well, tell us a little bit about some of the key programs, not key programs, the key majors that we have in our seminary.
Cushman: Well, we have a number of things that students can choose. And just to kind of start with the most popular programs, the master of divinity is our, kind of our bread and butter program. We get more people into the master of divinity than any other area.
Pettit: Master of divinity, for those that may or may not know, is 90-95 hours …
Cushman: It’s actually, we’ve reduced it down to 87, actually.
Pettit: It’s a little bit like a guy wants to be a doctor and he goes to med school for three years. It’s very similar.
Cushman: Exactly, exactly. It gives you the broad training that you need. You get the languages, you get church history, you get the exposition, you get homiletics, you get …
Pettit: Biblical theology, systematic theology,
Cushman: Exactly. You get all those areas so that you’re pretty well equipped to go into some kind of pastoral ministry, in particular. But we actually have concentrations that make it possible for some of our women – we have a master of divinity that’s not a preaching program but in biblical counseling, for instance.
So, we have some women who are taking that, and we are glad for that. They’re getting really well-trained to be able to be biblical counselors.
Pettit: So, you would say MDiv and biblical counseling are the two …
Cushman: Those are our top programs, but we also offer doctoral programs. We have a doctor of ministry, we’ve got a PhD in New Testament, PhD in Old Testament, and also one in biblical and systematic theology. We’ve got master of arts degrees in ministry studies and church planting and revitalization. We also have a focus on Bible translation, which is kind of a unique thing that I think most seminaries don’t have because we’ve got a full-fledged linguistics department at Bob Jones University. So, they participate in the training of our linguists, of our Bible translators, so we’re really thankful about that.
We’ve got some new things that we’re doing this fall. We’ve got a new master of arts degree in apologetics. Eric Newton is leading that program, and it is just power packed with theology and speaking into this culture in persuasive ways. We’re starting a doctor of ministry in biblical counseling, so you can go all the way through a doctorate in biblical counseling at Bob Jones now.
But also, we serve lay people. We’ve got a grad certificate in biblical counseling. We also have a grad certificate in teaching Bible. So, this serves the person in the church who is teaching adults or teens and they just feel like their teaching isn’t at the level that they want it to be. So, they take 12 credits of classes and they can really, really enhance their understanding of Scripture.
Pettit: So, tell us a little bit about, obviously today, because of the nature of technology, most schools have online programs, and at Bob Jones University, we have a very robust online program through our center called SCOPE, the School for Continuing Online and Professional Education. So, tell us a little bit about the online opportunities for people.
Cushman: We have a very active online program. We have four degrees that are 100% online as well as also offered in residence.
Pettit: Those four degrees are …?
Cushman: Master of divinity, that’s, you know, a lot of classes that we’ve developed in that area; the MA in biblical counseling; the grad certificate in biblical counseling and a master of arts degree in biblical studies. Biblical studies is a non-language program, but it’s a really, really nice package program of 37 credits that you can gain understanding about the Scripture. If you don’t have a master’s degree, that’s a really nice place to start.
Pettit: And how many students do we actually have in our grad program at Bob Jones?
Cushman: The count last semester was 414 students. And we have a great student body. They are wonderful people and they’re out there serving the Lord.
I just talked with a guy – he’s a distance student in Arizona and he’s a chaplain in the Army. And he was just telling me about this, the ministry that he’s in. Right now, he’s in a class on addiction, and he deals with this all the time in his ministry. Just to hear what the Lord is giving him to do is so challenging. And we have a lot of students – that pretty much describes our student body.
Pettit: Now, one of the things that has always been unique about the University are our international students who have actually come study here, and there are literally Bible colleges all over the world that were founded by BJU graduates. And so, tell us about the current international makeup of our seminary.
Cushman: Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. Twenty percent of our seminary student body are from various countries around the world. And that just really helps everyone to be able to have a sense of the need in the world. You know, when you’re sitting there in class and the person on your right-hand side is from Korea and the person on the left is from Uganda, it really is an international flavor to it. And it’s opened a lot of opportunities for our students too to be able to go to some of these places to be able to serve, so we’re really happy for the international flavor that we have here.
Pettit: It’s really wonderful. During the course of a school year, the seminary has various special events or conferences. Tell us about some of those.
Cushman: In the fall we do a lecture series that’s – it’s a little more academic, I suppose, than what we do in the spring. But it’s called the Stewart Custer Lecture Series. I think we’ve had a lot of wonderful professors through the history of the school, but Stewart Custer kind of stands out as a very special man who knew the Scriptures like nobody I ever met. And so, we …
Pettit: I had him actually for four classes. I had him for Bible Exposition I and II, the Book of the Revelation and actually, a course he did called The Evangelist and His Evangelism. And they were all graduate-level classes, and they were all life-changing classes. So, we wanted to honor Dr. Custer just as an outstanding theologian and professor. And so, the series has, as you mentioned, more of an academic approach.
Cushman: A little bit more. Last fall, the topic was “The Christian and Politics.” And it was great. You know, we had a lot of people come to that – pastors, of course the seminary students come, and undergraduate students come. So, that’s a one-day event; it’s three sessions. But then in the spring we do a full conference. It’s called CoRE Conference, which is Connect, Renew and Equip. And in that conference, we try to address the topics of the day and we try to bring people in, we use our own people as well to address those particular topics. We tackled addiction last year. The year before that we addressed sexuality and gender. So …,
Pettit: The things that are very current today that leaders are looking for sound biblical answers.
Cushman: Yes. The conference is growing. And not only do we have a lot of outside guests, but our students are very much involved in going to these sessions.
Pettit: Yes, so we’ll have 800 to 1,000 attendees.
Cushman: That’s exactly what we …
Pettit: They’re really great conferences.
Well, I know that people that are listening today are going to be interested in getting information online, so here are a couple of websites to go to.
First of all, it’s seminary.bju.edu, and that is a full website for the BJU Seminary – seminary.bju.edu. And then our online program is through, the website is SCOPE, scope.bju.edu, scope.bju.edu. Either way, you can go online at both of these locations, and you can get information on the seminary, the offerings, the course offerings, and all that’s going on.
Well, I’m just thrilled that you were able to be with us today, Neal, and we’re very excited about the seminary. They have regular chapel during the week; it’s always exciting to see the young men and young ladies who are preparing to go out and to do what Bob Jones University has always done the best, and that is to train servants to serve the local church throughout the world. And so, thank you for your time today.
Cushman: Thank you that I could come and speak.
Pettit: I really, really appreciate it and look forward to what God’s going to do at the BJU Seminary this year.
Pettit: Boy, I really appreciate Dr. Cushman taking the time to stop by and am so thrilled with our seminary. We have grown this year 23% in our enrollment, and we have tripled over the last three years in our new students coming in. So, we’re just really excited about God calling young men and young ladies into the ministry.
Well, we’re back here with Sarah and our discussion is about giving our listeners an update on how this still-young semester is going.
And so, Sarah, from a student perspective, are you and the other students, are they enjoying this semester so far, having to live with the protocols? Tell us about it.
Rumpf: Yes, so I am thrilled to be back on campus, and I think other students are as well. And the atmosphere around here is just so enthusiastic and thankful to be back on campus. Which I love being back here; it’s so nice to see friends, and to see professors and to be in class. Just so thankful for that.
Pettit: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting to me that the enthusiasm level is super high in spite of the restrictions that the students are having to go through. So, tell us about the protocols that we’re having to follow here.
Rumpf: Yes, so every day we’re asked to fill out a health screening and they ask us questions about whether we’ve been diagnosed with COVID and if we’re experiencing any of the symptoms, and they give us a list of the symptoms. And also, Bob Jones has provided us with a thermometer where we’re able to take our temperature every day, so that’s nice. You can just self-monitor yourself – OK, I have a fever, OK, I probably should go to the Health Care Center and get that checked out.
Pettit: And so, actually, we have students who as they monitor themselves, if they get concerned, they go to the Student Health Service, and so we’ve had students who, because of this, have been tested for COVID-19. So, it seems like the protocols are working.
Rumpf: They certainly are. I just think of friends from other schools and their cases are rising, and Bob Jones is doing great so far.
Pettit: So, Sarah, how are the four W’s going? We set those up for our students, which means to wash your hands, watch your distance, wear a mask and wash or clean down your surfaces – wash your surfaces. So, obviously they’re very simple, but they’re still restrictive. So, where do students have to wear a mask?
Rumpf: Yes, so we’re asked to wear masks in any academic building or in places you can’t socially distance. And so, in dorms, throughout the hallways, we’re wearing masks just to maintain that health …
Pettit: And so, everybody seems to be compliant?
Rumpf: It seems to be going really well, and I think that speaks more to the student body wanting to be here.
Pettit: And it appears like that the colleges that are following these protocols, that the issues are not so much in the classroom, but it’s really outside of class, off-campus parties and that kind of thing.
Tell us, how do you sense the students are following this as a whole. Bob Jones is a smaller campus, we realize that, so we have a little over 2500 here on campus. So, how are they handling it outside of class?
Rumpf: Yes, so this year we have those pickleball courts, and every night I go by and students are using them. And I think students are just getting outside more, getting active, and not congregating in large areas.
Pettit: So, the — if I could say, the extracurricular activity is mostly outdoors, doing a lot of activities, you know, reasonably careful about social distancing.
Rumpf: Yeah. And also, in Greenville, in town, you can’t gather in large groups of people. You can’t necessarily – they’re asking to wear masks, and that’s just the protocol in Greenville.
Pettit: So right now, the overall spirit of the campus is what?
Rumpf: Enthusiastic and very compliant to the four Ws.
Pettit: And wanting to get through the semester.
Pettit: That’s just pretty much the heartbeat, it seems like, of all of our professors. And I think our students have a concern for their teachers. They want them to be healthy as well.
So, looking forward to the semester with the students going through, what are some of the things the students are excited about opportunities we have this semester?
Rumpf: Yeah, so I think students are – well, I’m a senior, so I’m looking forward to the senior picnic that’s coming up this month. And I think students are excited for the start of the Bruins season. And we’re excited about just getting back into the swing of things, hanging out with our societies and our friends and just catching up after a long five months.
Pettit: And so, let’s just say a word about the Bruins. We are having our sports teams play. We have a shorter season, but there are two universities up in the Upstate of South Carolina that have intercollegiate sports. Who are those two schools?
Rumpf: It is Clemson University and most importantly, Bob Jones University.
Pettit: Bob Jones University. So, we don’t have as many games, but we have, I think, four home soccer matches for the ladies and then, four home soccer matches for the men. Do you think the students are going to come out?
Rumpf: I think so.
Pettit: So, we’re excited – we’ll socially distance at the games.
Pettit: There’ll be stickers on the benches where people can sit, but most everything on campus is just students.
And tell us about the discipleship groups, how they’re going this year.
Rumpf: Yeah, the discipleship groups this year are Tuesdays and Thursdays, and we’re meeting throughout campus. So, my group, for instance – we’re meeting in a science classroom. We’re socially distanced, we’re wearing our masks, and it’s nice to just meet multiple times through the week and get to know each other more, and then also have that discipleship aspect as well.
Pettit: And then of course you have your society meetings. Ladies and men have them on different days because of social distancing.
Pettit: Great. Well, I’ve just been, as the president, just been so encouraged by our student body. I think they’re the greatest group of kids in the world. And they’re excited, they’re grateful, they’re compliant and yet, they’re doing it not because it’s a rule or regulation, they’re doing it because the motivation is they want to be here, and they want to finish school.
Pettit: Well, we’re very excited about what God’s going to do, so I’m looking forward to seeing you back here next week.
Rumpf: Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Highest Potential with Steve Pettit. Don’t forget to find us and subscribe on Apple Podcast, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
Thanks again for listening. We’ll talk to you next week.
Transcript: Getting to Know Our New Student Host, Sarah Rumpf!
Pettit: Welcome to Highest Potential. I’m Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. And this is a podcast that explores how Bob Jones University is empowering individuals to reach their highest potential for God’s glory.
Today we are introducing our new student host for the year. It’s been a wonderful blessing to have students here at Bob Jones University work with me on this program, and today, our new student who will be co-hosting the podcast over the course of this year is Sarah Rumpf. She is with me today in my office, and Sarah, I’m so glad you’re here today. How are you today?
Rumpf: I’m doing great.
Pettit: We are really excited to have you over the course of the year. And as we begin, I really want to have our audience know who you are, a little bit about your background, and so, tell us where you’re from and of course, let’s get to why you came to Bob Jones University.
Rumpf: Absolutely. I’m from north of Boston, Massachusetts, 30 minutes outside the city in a town called Billerica. I’ve lived there my entire life. I have three older siblings and then …
Pettit: So, you’re the youngest.
Pettit: OK. And are you the only one to come to Bob Jones?
Rumpf: My older sister graduated in 2016.
Pettit: 2016. Great. Tell me a little about your family, your parents.
Rumpf: So, my dad’s a chemical engineer, and my mom – she actually came to Bob Jones as well, and she studied elementary education, but she was a stay-at-home mom.
Pettit: I see. So, you’re what we call a legacy student.
Rumpf: I am, yes.
Pettit: Yeah, you and about 40 to 50 percent of our student body.
Rumpf: Exactly. Yes.
Pettit: So, were you homeschooled? Christian-schooled? Public-schooled growing up?
Rumpf: Yeah so, I went to Christian schools until 10th grade and then my Christian school closed down in Massachusetts, so we finished up online.
Pettit: OK. So, did y’all attend church there in that area?
Rumpf: Yes. Yes,
Pettit: Where do you go to church?
Rumpf: Fellowship Bible Church. It’s in Methuen, Massachusetts.
Pettit: OK, very good. So, tell me about your faith. When did you come to accept the Lord as your Savior?
Rumpf: So, I got saved when I was 12 years old, and actually at the Wilds of New England.
Pettit: Oh wow.
Rumpf: So, a very typical story, I feel, for a lot of Bob Jones students. So yeah, I remember sitting in a sermon there and feeling convicted after the presentation of the Gospel and getting up talking to my counselor and having a gospel conversation with her and then professing, you know, my sins, and coming to a saving faith in Jesus.
Pettit: Wonderful, wonderful. So, you’re getting towards the end of your high school career. When did you start thinking about coming to Bob Jones?
Rumpf: Yes, so I’m a planner by nature, and so I remember going to high school and being like “OK, next step is college. I really don’t know what to study yet. I don’t know where I want to go.” And I started thinking, “OK, I want to go to a Christian university just because this is important to me.”
Pettit: Stop right there. Tell me, why a Christian university? Obviously, you’re a believer, but why a Christian university in specific?
Rumpf: So, for me it was the atmosphere. I wanted good influences on my life that would help direct me into a future I felt like God was calling me into. So, just important for me to be surrounded by believers to encourage and grow and mature in a way that would help me long term.
Pettit: So actually, it was a spiritual decision at the same time it was an academic decision.
Rumpf: Yeah, but the spiritual decision came first for me. And then later on, I decided, “OK, what Christian education fits with what I’m looking for in a school?” And that’s what led me to Bob Jones. I checked out other Christian universities, narrowed down my search for different schools and programs that I wanted to go into, and then fell in love with the communications department here. I just loved the professors. The classes were just so interesting to me and I’ve been a Comm major since day one.
Pettit: So, did you visit the campus before you came here? How many times did you visit?
Rumpf: I went to College Up Close.
Rumpf: At first, just to visit my sister. And then later on, to explore seriously what Bob Jones had to offer.
Pettit: So, your major is …
Rumpf: And I have a business minor.
Pettit: And business minor, great. Tell me about your experience as a student here, I think, with the opportunities here, because you’re pretty involved.
Rumpf: Yeah, I’m so thankful for Bob Jones. In one way, it’s smaller, so I have an opportunity to get involved in student government or leadership positions. And I’m able to get all these various experiences that at a bigger university, I’d in no way be opened up to, maybe one of them. Maybe I would have the opportunity to be in a podcast, but I also wouldn’t simultaneously be able to take part in SLC, Student Leadership Council and, you know, student government with Student Legislator. So, all these positions have helped me grow into – well, I hope to learn, love and lead better than when I came to Bob Jones.
Pettit: Sure. Tell us about the Student Legislature because a lot of folks don’t know about that.
Rumpf: Yeah, so Student Legislator is a group of about 12 universities in South Carolina, and each college or university has a delegation of students. And what we do is each semester we write legislation that we’re passionate about, and then we present it once a semester. We actually get to go to the South Carolina State House …
Pettit: So, it’s like college students are running South Carolina.
Rumpf: Exactly. Yup, exactly. So, I wrote a bill raising the minimum wage for foster care families in South Carolina, and then …
Pettit: Did it pass?
Rumpf: It did. Yes, and then last fall I did one on protecting religious liberties of nonprofits in South Carolina.
Rumpf: Specifically, foster care.
Pettit: I see. So, in that experience, you walked away – because you’re a senior now – and usually juniors and seniors have the bigger roles in that. I know a little bit about it because my son was involved in it.
How do you – coming together with 12 colleges, obviously you have different viewpoints. So, where would Bob Jones fit into that viewpoint among those twelve schools?
Rumpf: One thing that I’ve noticed is that Bob Jones, our delegation – maybe I’m a little biased because I’m a part of it – but we’re always very prepared, we’ve researched the bills and looked into them. We’re told to think critically about them. We’re not just told, “Hey, Bob Jones stands on this issue this way.” Instead, we’re told, “Hey, think critically about this. How does your biblical worldview influence what bills you want to support or ones you have problems with?”
I would say like in general Bob Jones students are more conservative just because it lines up a lot with our faith on instances like abortion. Stuff like that we’re pretty conservative on.
And there are other issues we have varying opinions about, but it’s fun to think more deeply about why you do believe this economic policy is best for the state of South Carolina, so stuff like that.
Pettit: So, yeah, you to be able to not only think about it but to articulate it in a clear manner so that you persuade others. So, you learn the fine art of persuasive speech.
Pettit: Very good. So, here at Bob Jones there are lots of different positions of leadership opportunities a lot of people would not know about. You’re a part of what we call the “SLC.” So, explain that to our hearers.
Rumpf: Yes, so SLC is one of the many acronyms you will find at Bob Jones. SLC stands for Student Leadership Council. It’s a group of, I believe, 10 or 12 students who are chosen by popular vote from the student body who are elected. And there’s positions that range from student body president to event coordinator/treasurer, and this year I have the opportunity to be the women’s senior class representative.
Pettit: I see.
Rumpf: And so, what my role is, is that I get to plan a couple parties for the senior class, I come up with senior gift ideas and then fundraise for the senior class.
Pettit: So, are you part of the outdoor barbeque we have coming up with the president?
Pettit: Good! I’m assuming we’re doing good old South Carolina barbeque.
Rumpf: We are. Henry’s, I believe.
Pettit: Oh, that will be awesome.
Rumpf: A favorite.
Pettit: That’ll be a favorite.
Rumpf: And ice cream, I’ve heard.
Pettit: Outdoors with social distancing.
Pettit: Very much so.
So, tell me – you’re a communications major and obviously, one of our goals here is not only to educate but to put you in a position to empower people to reach their highest potential. And a part of that is going through an internship opportunity. So, tell me about your experience. Have you had an internship? What have you done?
Rumpf: Yes, so I just finished up an internship this summer, and I’m actually starting another one next week.
Pettit: I see.
Rumpf: And so, my one this past summer was with the Family Research Council, an organization in Washington, D.C. It’s a faith-based organization that promotes family values. So, I had the opportunity to intern there, and I was so thankful.
Pettit: Did you live in Washington?
Rumpf: Yeah, so I was actually there for half of my time as an intern. So, we started in June and I came to Washington, D.C. in July, which was interesting because it was in the midst of a pandemic.
Rumpf: So, it was interesting. The city was dead; the monuments were empty. But it was kind of great as a tourist because my pictures don’t have any people in it! So, that was one thing, and then just to have that experience.
Pettit: Were there other interns there?
Rumpf: Yeah, yeah. So, we came from Christian colleges, secular colleges, from across the nation, so there was a group of – I think originally there were supposed to be like twenty or so interns, and our group was like nine.
Pettit: I’m sure you had a lot of conversations about various things, probably schools and background. Did any of them know about Bob Jones University?
Rumpf: Yes, yes. So, there was one Liberty student that was familiar with Bob Jones. And then, you know, other universities, Union University. I don’t know – Chapel Hill …
Pettit: Right. OK. Very good.
Rumpf: Holy Cross.
Pettit: So, you’ve got, and now your internship coming up is what?
Rumpf: Yeah, so I’m interning with the Heritage Foundation, a very conservative think tank in Washington, D. C. And I’m taking part in a program called The Academy. And so, it’s a program that will run until the end of this semester, and it’s just giving us a flyover course over a ton of conservative issues.
Pettit: I see.
Rumpf: And then we also have opportunity to write for the Heritage Foundation and get published.
Pettit: So, it seems to me that as you’re particularly involved in these organizations, plus SLC, plus Student Legislature, all of that together, obviously, you are formulating your thinking on things. Do you feel like that you, do you feel like you have a solid thinking about a lot of the issues of our day?
Rumpf: Yeah, yeah, and I think that my professors have prompted me to do so, simply by giving us assignments that force us to critically think.
Pettit: So, you feel like this has come even out of your classes.
Rumpf: Absolutely, yeah. Specifically, with my communication classes, a lot of it isn’t looking for a specific answer. Instead, it’s looking at our thought process, how do you arrive to this conclusion and to be able to communicate that in a way that defends where you’re coming from.
Pettit: So, if you were to, if somebody were to say sum up, sum up your educational experience at Bob Jones University, what is it that you feel like you’re going to walk away with. Because obviously you’ve had lots of different classes and lots of different activities and events and so forth. How would you sum it all up?
Rumpf: That is a tricky question. I would say, to sum it all up, to invest in your school, to invest in people around you, and to take opportunities that God has given you and just go for it.
Pettit: So, you’re graduating, Lord willing, in May.
Pettit: 2021. What’s your thoughts about after graduation?
Rumpf: Yeah, so I’m going to start applying for a job in the next couple months. Looking to move to D.C. area and hopefully work for a think tank.
Pettit: I see.
Rumpf: I don’t know in what area, but I’m hoping that, you know, to just once again just take the opportunity that the Lord has given me and take that step of faith.
Pettit: Are you thinking about more education beyond here?
Rumpf: I am, yeah. I’m interested in doing a master’s in public policy.
Pettit: I see.
Rumpf: But I’m hoping to get some context for that, you know, in the field that I’m looking to go into and then pursue a master’s, just with a broader understanding of what that would look like.
Pettit: Well, and I’m sure that there are a few schools in Washington, D.C. area that have public policy.
Pettit: And we actually have students that are there now already, and some of them are working in the government there, right now.
Well, great! I’m excited about the year and excited to work together and also for you to bring to our audience the perspective of a Christian student today, because today’s so unique. It’s so different from even a decade ago. So, we’re thankful to have you and looking forward to a great semester.
Rumpf: Thank you.
Pettit: Thank you.