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Student Profiles

Elizabeth Lentz, Middle Grades Education
Full time mother of two

Master of Arts in Teaching
New Bern, North Carolina
Previous Education
Lenoir-Rhyne University, Bachelor of Arts in Middle Grades Education

Learn More About Elizabeth

How do you manage juggling life as a mother while pursuing your masters?
“I take advantage of study hall opportunities, and incorporate online classes into my schedule each semester which reduces my travel time to campus. The support I get from teachers, administration, and classmates, makes it possible for me to balance home and school life.”

Why did you choose Lenoir-Rhyne to pursue both your bachelor and master’s degrees?
“Going back to school after 25 years is a little intimidating, and I was nervous about getting back into the classroom. The small class sizes at Lenoir-Rhyne made me feel more comfortable and helped me transition into the role of a student. The one-on-one attention you can receive from professors at Lenoir-Rhyne is the it factor for me, and that is what brought me here.”

What has your experience been like with your professors?
“I have had a wonderful experience with my professors. Most professors have an open door policy and quickly respond to emails. They see the time and dedication students put into their learning and are passionate about helping them succeed.”

How did the Bridges to Dreams program help you transition into the MAT program?
“Through the Bridges to Dreams program I was able to begin taking graduate courses while still completing an undergraduate degree. I was able to enroll in 12 credit hours of graduate level coursework during my senior year, which will help me complete the MAT in under a year.”

Favorite things to do in Hickory:
Hike on the numerous public trails that can be found throughout town
- Watch Hickory Crawdads games while enjoying time with family
- Attend LRU Visiting Writers Series events
- Go to the local theater in downtown Hickory

Stephen Brabandt, MBA
Engineering Program Director
at Hickory Springs Manufacturing

Master of Business Administration
Memphis, Indiana
Previous Education
Purdue University, Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Learn More About Stephen

What are your current job responsibilities at Hickory Springs Manufacturing?
“In my current position, I handle all aspects of engineering, including facilitating new product development, maintaining and supporting existing product lines, testing new and existing products, and supporting our division’s manufacturing facilities.”

How do you feel the MBA program at Lenoir-Rhyne will help your career?
“Since I began the program, I have received a promotion at work and am now more involved in top level meetings and at the front end of projects. As an engineering undergraduate, I gained technical knowledge but did not develop business acumen. The MBA has given me insights into the business aspect of my profession, along with a greater understanding of accounting, finance, and marketing. I’m now able to contribute to conversations about strategy and communicate more effectively with co-workers. Overall, I’ve filled in a lot of the gaps in my knowledge of business which has allowed me to step into a management role with confidence.”

As a father of three, how do you manage juggling everyday life with work and your studies?
I think the biggest asset of the MBA program is that it allows me to manage coursework and everyday life through remote attendance. With my family and work commitments, including travel, I can’t always make it to campus, so to be able to still attend class remotely when I’m not in town is extremely helpful.”

What has your experience with professors been like?
“My professors are very helpful and are approachable and accessible. They always answer my questions or help guide me through coursework and assignments. They are very understanding that my job has to be a priority.

Favorite things to do in Hickory:
Attend Crawdads baseball games
- Visit the Science Center
- Eat at restaurants and local breweries
- Attend the Hickory Hops festival

Joshua Choice, University Leadership
Enrollment Counselor - Athletic Liaison
at Lenoir-Rhyne University

Master of Arts in University Leadership
Thomasville, Georgia
Previous Education
Winthrop University, Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science

Learn More About Joshua

How were you able to manage working full time while pursuing your master’s degree?
“With the University Leadership program being offered fully online, it definitely helped me accommodate for my busy work schedule. The program offered me an opportunity to study after work and live stream in to different classes. Even though the classes were online I was able to be in contact with my professors if I needed to. I can also travel for work or to see family and am still able to keep up with my studies. Although the program is fully online you definitely still feel like you’re a part of everything at the University – whether it be in Hickory or Asheville.”

How do you feel the program benefitted you both personally and professionally?
“Currently I’m employed as an athletic liaison in the Enrollment Management department at Lenoir-Rhyne. I would like to continue working closely with athletes, and continue advancing my career in higher education. I feel the University Leadership program was a great fit because it has taught me how to be a strong and effective leader. It’s helped shape my overall demeanor and I feel I’ve gained the confidence to step into the position of a manager or director. I’ve also gained a better understanding of how to work with various departments on campus.”

Favorite things to do in Hickory:
Dine at the various restaurant options throughout town
- Stay active by participating in outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and boating on Lake Hickory
- Visit surrounding cities such as Charlotte, Asheville, Winston-Salem, and Boone

Briana Sherrill,
MA in School Counseling

Counselor, West Iredell High School

Master of Arts in School Counseling
Mooresville, North Carolina
Previous Education
Lenoir-Rhyne University, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

Learn More About Briana

Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree at Lenoir-Rhyne?
“I was able to take advantage of the Bridges to Dreams program, which allowed me to begin taking graduate courses during my senior year of undergraduate studies. This option allows me to complete the program more quickly than I would be able to at another university and at a cheaper rate.”

What type of career do you hope to pursue with your master’s degree?
“My goal is to become a high-school counselor. I feel confident that the education I received during my undergraduate studies, accompanied with the skills I am gaining while completing my master’s degree, will help propel me to the next level in my career.”

What type of relationships have you experienced with your professors?
“My professors seem to be very invested in helping me reach my goals both personally and academically. In fact, everyone that I interact with at Lenoir-Rhyne is extremely friendly.”

Favorite things to do in Hickory:
- Visit the downtown area on weekends where I can listen to live music and shop local vendors at the farmer’s market.
- Walk the hiking trails by Lake Hickory when the weather is nice.

Ginelle Krummey,
MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Qualified Mental Health Professional, Access Family Services

Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Harrison City, Pennsylvania
Previous Education
Franklin and Marshall College, Bachelor of Arts in Special Studies

Learn More About Ginelle

How do you manage juggling everyday life with work and your studies?
“Classes are scheduled in the evenings and the program can be completed at my own pace. School is not a source of stress for me while I’ve been taking this program. My coursework and class time provide a safe space to explore, be my best self, gain a deeper understanding of concepts that apply to my future, and dream of what my practice might look like someday.”

How do you feel the Counseling program at Lenoir-Rhyne will help advance your career?
“The Counseling program at Lenoir-Rhyne’s Asheville Center has already helped my career. Aside from informing my case management job with clinical knowledge, it has also kept my future at the forefront of my mind when things are difficult in the present.”

Why did you choose to pursue a degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling?
“I have always wanted to be a counselor and my eventual goal is to work with people on themselves. I’ve found that being in a classroom with people who share my same goals and interests has confirmed for me I belong in this program.”

Favorite things to do in Asheville
“I enjoy the beautiful scenery that surrounds the entire city while walking or going for a drive.”

Nicholas Wilson,
MS in Nursing

Emergency Department Manager, Carolina Healthcare System Lincoln

Master of Science in Nursing, Administration concentration
Hickory, North Carolina
Previous Education
Lenoir-Rhyne University, Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Learn More About Nicholas

How has the MSN program assisted you in a nursing leadership role?
“I’ve gained an understanding of leadership principles, how to better manage time and assets, and better communicate not only with my staff, but with other leaders. With an undergraduate degree you can be an expert nurse but truly need those extra skills that are obtained through a graduate program to become a great leader, especially in a changing healthcare environment.”

Why did you choose LRU for your master’s degree?
“I completed my undergraduate at Lenoir-Rhyne in 2005 and honestly that experience is what brought me back here for the graduate degree. I felt like the individualized attention I receive here has helped me to be successful. Professors have always been very responsive and help me work through issues.”

What would you tell someone who is apprehensive about taking the program online?
“The program being fully online is really the only way that I could have gotten this far with a very busy work and family life. Although it is delivered online, professors are located on campus to provide me with face-to-face access when needed. I was also able to complete my clinical close to home at Carolinas Healthcare System.”

Favorite things to do in Hickory when not working?
“Hickory has a lot to offer culturally. I enjoy going to the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, and seeing live bands under the Sails in downtown at night. My family and I enjoy some of the local parks as well as playing golf at all of the local courses.”

Jon Holloway, MA in Teaching

Physical Education Teacher,
Arndt Middle School

Master of Arts in Teaching
Hickory, North Carolina
Previous Education
Appalachian State University,
BS in Health Promotions

Learn More About Jon

Why did you decide to pursue the Master of Arts in Teaching degree at LRU?
“When I was offered a lateral entry teaching position I had the option to pursue a higher level of education while teaching full time. When searching for programs something about Lenoir-Rhyne clicked. After meeting with one of the graduate studies enrollment counselors I felt as though I belonged here because of the welcoming environment and small town feel.”

What type of experience have you had with the fully online program?
“During my undergraduate studies, I only had one online class so I was very apprehensive about the fully online program. However, as a new teacher and coach I am beyond busy with my work life, and this program makes it possible for me to manage both. Today I feel like I could not have made a better choice by choosing this online program.”

Are you able to interact with your professors and peers through the online program?
“I feel like I have interactions with both my professors and peers through this program. I am able to meet with professors in person on the Hickory campus as needed. Also, the group work that has been assigned provides many unique ways of interacting with my peers to complete projects.”

What are your favorite things to do in Hickory?
“I am a big outdoors person and love to go hiking any chance I get. Considering Hickory is located about fifty minutes from the Boone area I often travel up the mountain to hike with my dog, or go visit some of the local parks during my free time. Also, I enjoy catching a Crawdads game when I get the chance. During the summer months, I try to be out on Lake Hickory as much as possible.”

Jessie Haynes, MA in Human Services

Enrollment Counselor, Lenoir-Rhyne University

Master of Arts in Human Services,
Career Development
Leicester, North Carolina
Previous Education
Lenoir-Rhyne University, BA in Human & Community Services

Learn More About Jessie

Why did you choose Lenoir-Rhyne University?
“When I first began considering colleges I thought I wanted to go to a huge university far away from home. After visiting these schools, I realized I didn’t feel comfortable or at home. When I came to Lenoir-Rhyne’s campus everyone I met was welcoming and truly seemed passionate about the University. I felt at home and knew this was where I wanted to be. It made sense to continue my education here because my undergraduate experience was so fulfilling.”

What type of interaction do you have with classmates in a fully online program?
“While the program is offered online, I have made connections with classmates from across the country who share insights based on their own unique experiences. I’m able to engage in class discussions with both my peers and professors via interactive online courses.”

How have you been able to working full time and completing course work?
“The online courses allow me to balance a full-time job and a social life while completing courses at my own pace. My professors also truly care about me and want me to succeed so they are willing to work with my schedule when needed.”

Favorite things to do in Hickory?
“I like to go to the Crawdads baseball games with my friends. I also like to shop downtown and eat at the local restaurants. There are tons of local parks and walking trails where I enjoy taking my dogs for a stroll.”

Amber McKnight, MBA

Receptionist, Statesville OB/GYN

Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Administration
Kannapolis, North Carolina
Previous Education
Lenoir-Rhyne University, BA in Multimedia Communications

Learn More About Amber

How will a concentration in Healthcare Administration enhance your experience with the MBA?
“I feel the flexibility to choose a concentration in Healthcare Administration will help me advance my career in the medical field. Most of the portfolio projects I completed while obtaining my bachelor’s degree were related to healthcare. For me it made sense to keep building upon my knowledge of the healthcare industry while pursuing my master’s degree.”

How does the MBA program coursework aid you in your current position at Statesville OBGYN?
“I became employed as a receptionist at Statesville OBGYN shortly after beginning the MBA program at Lenoir-Rhyne. Through the MBA coursework, I’ve learned how to utilize recent technology when billing customers, a skill I use daily at work. Also, many of the insights gained on investing I’m using in my personal life.”

How have you been able to balance work and your studies while pursuing the MBA?
“My work hours fluctuate often and are very unpredictable. My professors have worked with me to help accommodate days when I may have to miss class. They often allow me to make up assignments or complete additional work so that I stay up-to-date with the course curriculum.”

Katelyn Holley, MA in University Leadership

Graduate Assistant Volleyball Coach,
Lenoir-Rhyne University

Master of Arts in University Leadership
Danville, Virginia
Previous Education
Averett University, BS in Physical Education, Health, & Drivers Education

Learn More About Katelyn

How will this program help you meet your career goals?
“Through this program, I’ve learned to be a stronger communicator, manage resources responsibly, and build collaborative networks, all of which are beneficial as I work toward my goal of teaching and coaching in a university setting.”

What type of interaction do you have with professors?
“All the relationships I have built with my professors feel extremely genuine. Many of my professors meet with students virtually, providing one-on-one interaction when needed. I have also been able to meet with professors in person on the Hickory campus. They are always available when I need assistance.”

How has the online program made it possible for you to balance everyday life responsibilities and learning?
“Being the assistant women’s volleyball coach at LR requires me to work a lot of hours both in the office and the gym. With the program offered fully online, I’m able to complete assignments as my schedule allows and from the convenience of my own home.”

Favorite things to do in Hickory?
“Hickory offers diverse and fun restaurant options so I always enjoy trying new places to eat.”

Vernon Kinard, Master of Divinity

Pastor, St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Tyro, North Carolina

Master of Divinity
Newberry, South Carolina
Previous Education
Newberry College, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

Learn More About Vernon

Vernon D. Kinard recently earned his Master of Divinity degree from Lenoir-Rhyne’s Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary.

During the 2016-17 academic year, Kinard served as vicar at LR and Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Hickory, providing pastoral care and leadership to LR students and surrounding community members.

“My favorite memory during my time at LTSS was serving LR and Bethlehem Lutheran Church as vicar,” Kinard said. “I was blessed in many ways while serving as vicar, and my curiosity of parish and campus ministry was fully affirmed during that time. I built lasting relationships with members of the LR and Hickory communities.”

On Friday, June 15, 2018, Kinard will be ordained as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The service will be held in Grace Chapel at 7 pm. Community presence and prayers are welcome. The Reverend Dr. Timothy Smith, bishop of the North Carolina Synod, will preside over the service.

Following Kinard’s ordination he will serve as pastor at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Tyro, North Carolina.

Learn more about LR’s Master of Divinity program at lr.edu/Divinity.

Madelyn Edwards, Master of Arts in Writiing

Book author

Master of Arts in Writing
Marksville, Louisiana
Previous Education
Louisiana College, Bachelor of Arts in Journalism

Learn More About Madelyn

Why did you choose Lenoir-Rhyne for pursuing your Master of Arts in Writing?
“I’ve always loved to write, thus my undergraduate degree in journalism. After discovering Lenoir-Rhyne’s Asheville Center offers a Master of Arts in Writing degree, I decided to meet with Laura Hope Gill, the program coordinator, and Michael Dempsey, dean and director of the Asheville Center. I was impressed and excited about the program, so I registered.”

How did the program help you publish your first novel?
“Before completing the graduate program I was able to write news and television stories based on interviews, but I didn’t know how to write creatively and knew very little about poetry. I could have never written my first novel ‘Catfish’ published October 2017, or ‘Lilly’ which will be published October 2018, if I hadn’t taken the variety of classes offered through the program.”

What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing the Master of Arts in Writing degree?
“I would say it is never too late to get started. I always wanted to go to graduate school but time, money, and circumstances never seemed to work out until I was in my early sixties. Many students in the program work full-time and attend classes in person or through WebEx in the evenings. One of the people who graduated with me in 2017 was 83 at the time.”

Favorite things to do in Asheville?
“I love the people and the diversity Asheville offers. I enjoy the artistic and creative talent from sculpture and pottery artists to local chefs. The Asheville area does not only offer an artistic atmosphere but it’s educational at the same time.”

Teena Brooks, MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Student Success Specialist, Lenoir-Rhyne University

Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Morganton, North Carolina
Previous Education
Gardner-Webb University, BS in Religious Studies

Learn More About Teena

How did the internship you completed enhance your overall experience in the program?
“My internship at local nonprofits provided invaluable hands-on experience and helped me grow both personally and professionally. The internship fueled within me a passion to work with people who desire counseling but are not able to afford services.”

Describe your interaction with professors in the program?
“I have had a great experience with my professors. They all go above and beyond to help me understand the curriculum and serve as great mentors. I feel comfortable addressing professors with questions or concerns and value the type of feedback provided through our conversations.”

What aspects of the program made it possible to balance your studies and full-time employment?
“The program conveniently offers evening and online classes providing working professionals an opportunity to attend class outside of work. Also, as a non-cohort program, students can begin during any semester and complete coursework at their own pace.”

Favorite things to do in Hickory?
“I enjoy spending time outdoors, so I frequently visit the numerous local parks and trails. I also like to spend time shopping and dining with friends on Union Square in downtown Hickory.”

Martin Mongiello, MA in University Leadership

Chief marketing officer and hotel general manager at The Inn of the Patriots, LLC, The U.S. Presidential Culinary Museum, and the U.S. Presidential Service Center; Former chef at the White House and general manager of Camp David Resort; 30-year retired military veteran

Master of Arts in Leadership
Grover, North Carolina
Previous Education
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Bachelor of Science in Culinary Management

Learn More About Martin

What type of skills have you acquired through the Leadership program and how do they apply to your life?
“As a business owner, the Master of Arts in Leadership program has inspired me to think more creatively about leadership, marketing, sales, and management skills used to promote my business. The program provides a refreshing learning environment where I can share and discuss new marketing techniques with professors and peers.”

Why did you choose LR as the University for obtaining your master’s degree?
“Lenoir-Rhyne caught my attention after I visited its main campus in Hickory as a guest speaker during Global Entrepreneurship Week. The University’s Master of Arts in Leadership program provided the type of coursework in marketing and entrepreneurship that I was looking for.”

What has your experience been like with professors?
“Most of my professors are advanced and progressive in their teaching style and embrace video submittals and responses for homework assignments. Instead of shying away from modern techniques and methodologies, they embrace new technologies which allow me to learn concepts needed in today’s society.”

Dan Waters, MA in Writing

Chair of Cardiac Surgery and Director of Medical Education, Mercy Medical Center North Iowa, Mason City, Iowa

Master of Arts in Writing
Graduate Certificate in Narrative Healthcare
Riverside, New Jersey
Previous Education
St. Joseph's College, BS in Biology
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

Learn More About Dan

How did you hear about LR’s MA in Writing and Narrative Healthcare Certificate?
“I found Lenoir-Rhyne’s program through an online search and a call to Dr. Laura Hope-Gill, the program coordinator. Having been frustrated by the lack of programs adaptable to an actively practicing physician, LR offered the only Graduate Certificate program and was the only program with a distance learning option available at the time (2015), putting it well ahead of the curve.”

How were you able to complete the program remotely, and while working as an actively practicing cardiac surgeon?
“I had never been a distance learner before, but I think of LR as an on-campus program which one can attend virtually. Via Webex, I was present for classes and discussions and able to personally interact with faculty and classmates. I never once felt distant or disconnected from the program or the people.”

Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree in writing?
“Writing has helped me in more ways than I can count. I host a monthly Narrative Healthcare Seminar at our hospital which is very gratifying. I also think writing is an excellent way for physicians like myself to prevent burnout and to focus on the deeper meaning of what we do and how we can enhance care for our patients.”

Jenny Bardoczi, MBA

Real Estate Broker, Beverly-Hanks & Associates Realtors

Master of Business Administration alumna

Asheville, North Carolina

Previous Education
University of North Carolina at Asheville, Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness Promotion

Learn More About Jenny

How do you feel the MBA degree enhanced your current career as a real estate broker?
“The Master of Business Administration degree from Lenoir-Rhyne equipped me to think more analytically while doing my job and also gave me a more creative mindset. I understand the value of measuring outcomes and consistently evaluating profit and loss, which enables me to stay on top of local and national real estate market trends.”

Why did you choose LR as the University for obtaining your master’s degree?
“I chose Lenoir-Rhyne because throughout the application process the faculty and staff were always incredibly kind and easy to get in touch with. I was specifically drawn to the MBA program because of its convenient location in Asheville and the flexibility it gave me while I worked.”

Did you feel connected to professors and peers at LR?
“My interaction with classmates and professors created a positive community feel where it was easy for me to ask questions and receive feedback. Professors were always willing to work with me and allowed some flexibility when I needed it.”

Favorite things to do in Asheville?
“I enjoy trying the wide variety of unique restaurants Asheville has to offer, hiking along the Blueridge Parkway, and simply soaking in the beauty of our town.”