Yearly News Archives: 2013

HPU’s Pre-Collegiate Music and Art program announces fall classes

BROWNWOOD – August 6, 2013 – The pre-collegiate program at Howard Payne University is announcing upcoming fall classes in music and art. Classes and lessons are available for both children and adults and will begin on Monday, September 2. The registration deadline for the fall semester is Friday, September 6.

Music classes offered this fall include piano, voice, strings, guitar, band instruments, Kindermusik and the Kids’ Musical Theatre Chorus, “Stinger Singers.” Art classes include beginning and intermediate drawing and painting.

“The Pre-Collegiate Music and Art program at HPU is designed to serve Brownwood and the surrounding communities by providing music and art lessons to children and adults,” said Diane Owens, program director. “Our program fosters the love of music and art inherent in all students and seeks to develop these abilities in each individual. We welcome the opportunity to work with each student and hope that everyone’s experience with the program is fulfilling and rewarding.”

For more information about the program, contact Owens at (325) 649-8501 or via e-mail at; or Jill Holamon, administrative assistant for the School of Music and Fine Arts, at 325-649-8500 or

Students from HPU’s Pre-College Music program earn honors at state music competition

BROWNWOOD – July 26, 2013 – Twenty-three students from Howard Payne University’s Pre-College Music program participated in the Texas Federation of Music Clubs State Competition, with many taking high honors. The competition was held earlier this summer at Texas State University in San Marcos.

Listed below are the participants in the state competition and their ratings:

Samuel BrownVocal Solo:
All State: Samuel Brown
Outstanding: Seth Adkins, Angie Calfa, Dallas Johnston, Mary McIver, Shayna Oliver and Sarah Reeves

Piano Solo:
All State: Jordan Roberts
Outstanding: Andrew Boren, Vic Cooper, Rayven Deray, Austin Johnston, Kamry Keese, Isaac Lock, Trevor Mickelson, Michael Morales, Sarah Reeves and Trina Wheeless
Superior: James Bautista, Abe Cooper, Christian Fijer and Kylee Medina

Guitar Solo:
Superior: Brennan Medina

Fifty students from the program participated in the District 4A Junior Festival, held on the HPU campus in March. Forty of those students earned a “Superior” rating, making them eligible to compete in the TMFC competition.

Jordan RobertsHPU’s Pre-College Music program, directed by Diane Owens, is a part of the School of Music and Fine Arts. The program offers Kindermusik classes to pre-school children and lessons in art, choir, musical instruments and voice to school-aged children and adults. This past year, 20 teachers, consisting of HPU music and art faculty, students and local teachers, taught more than 100 students who were enrolled in the Pre-College Music program.

Enrollment for the fall semester will begin August 12 and will continue until August 30. Classes begin on September 2. Each semester is 14 weeks in length.

For more information about the Pre-College Music program at HPU, contact either Owens at 325-649-850l,, or Jill Holamon at 325-649-8500,

The Texas Federation of Music Clubs operates in conjunction with the National Federation of Music Clubs. The NFMC is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to music education and the promotion of creative and performing arts in America. Since its founding in 1898, the NFMC has grown into one of the world’s largest music organizations with club and individual members of all ages. The NFMC is chartered by the Congress of The United States and is the only music organization member of the United Nations. Dedicated to finding and fostering young musical talent, the NFMC conducts annual Junior Festivals with more than 117,000 participants. The NFMC offers more than three quarters of a million dollars in awards through state and national competitions. Federation members work to create a dynamic musical and cultural environment in their communities through education and sponsorship of musical events.


Photo cutline: Samuel Brown (left), vocals, and Jordan Roberts, piano, earned “All State” rankings at the Texas Federation of Music Clubs State Competition.

Students can earn two degrees in five years with new HPU accelerated degree program

BROWNWOOD – July 24, 2013 – Beginning this fall, students in Howard Payne University’s School of Christian Studies will have the opportunity to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in as few as five years.

Through the Accelerated Program in Christian Studies, a student will complete 75 hours toward an undergraduate degree, choosing from any of the Christian studies majors – Bible, biblical languages, Christian education, cross-cultural studies, practical theology and youth ministry.

If the student maintains a minimum GPA of 3.0, he or she may then apply for admission to the Master of Arts in Youth Ministry program or the Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry program. Upon acceptance, the student will complete 12 hours of graduate coursework, which counts toward the undergraduate degree requirements as well as toward a 42-hour graduate degree.

“The Accelerated Program in Christian Studies provides a tremendous opportunity for our undergraduate students, and we are thrilled that so many of them are expressing interest,” said Dr. Gary Gramling, director of the programs and professor of Christian studies. “We feel that this program will help us accomplish our mission of preparing students for the ministries to which God has called them.”

A record number of campers enjoy Summer Scholars and Young Scholars programs at HPU

Young scholars rock climbing.BROWNWOOD – July 18, 2013 – A record number of young people are participating in this year’s Summer Scholars and Young Scholars day camps at Howard Payne University.

The popular programs, held each summer, offer innovative instruction in robotics, computer graphics, music, reading and physical education. The theme for this year is “Brainpower and the Body” and includes instruction in biology and the various functions of the body including the brain, heart, lungs, bones and muscles.

“We are having a great time this week,” said Dr. Julie Welker, director of the programs. Dr. Welker is the chair of the communication department and professor of communication at HPU. “Our Summer and Young Scholars faculty have done an outstanding job providing a challenging yet fun experience for these students.”


Photo cutline: Students enrolled in Howard Payne University’s Summer Scholars and Young Scholars day camps had the opportunity to scale the HPU rock wall Thursday morning.

HPU hosts Super Summer camp for Christian youth

Blue School by Old Main for webBy Kendyl Moore, HPU senior

BROWNWOOD – July 15, 2013 – Howard Payne University recently hosted Super Summer, a youth leadership camp created by the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The camp ran from June 24 through June 28, and 458 eighth graders to high school graduates attended. Among the leaders present were 40 HPU alumni, faculty or current students.

Super Summer was created in 1974 for the training and teaching of Christian students. Originally a cooperative effort by several churches in the Dallas area, Super Summer has grown to include many churches and camps across the state and is held at five Baptist university campuses.

“Since Super Summer returned to HPU three years ago, I have brought a group of students from our student ministry,” said Tim Stary, a 2007 HPU graduate and youth pastor from First Baptist Church in Salado. “The impact of Super Summer is huge, and many of the students had life-changing experiences with God while here.”

The camp is designed to be a challenging week of discipleship training for young Christian leaders. Students attend small-group sessions, worship services, lectures, games and other activities. The campers are divided into color-coded schools by grade. This year, HPU was the only location to offer the Purple School, designed specifically for students who feel called to ministry.

Although there were a wide variety of activities happening on campus, the week proceeded smoothly. Wolverton family for web

“Howard Payne has always done a wonderful job of rolling out the red carpet for us,” stated Leighton Flowers, director of Super Summer and youth evangelism at the Baptist General Convention of Texas. “This year’s camp went as smoothly as ever.”

Also available through Super Summer is a leadership forum for youth pastors. The leadership forum provides an opportunity for youth pastors to ask questions, present concerns and have them answered by other leaders and educators.

“We feel so honored to have hosted Super Summer weeks on our campus for the past three years,” said Dr. Gary Gramling ’81, director of HPU’s youth ministry program and professor of Christian studies. “It is an opportunity for Howard Payne University to serve as the setting for an intensive week of discipleship for some of the finest Christian students in Texas. We are grateful to God and to Texas Baptists for allowing us to be a part of such an important week in the lives of students.”


Photo cutlines: Members of the Super Summer “Blue School” pass by HPU’s Old Main Tower while on campus for Super Summer 2013.

Kelly Wolverton, center, Super Summer recreation director and pastor of Adamsville Baptist Church near Lampasas, stops for a photo with daughters Kelsan, left, and Sharon. Kelsan is an HPU sophomore and member of the summer camp staff and Sharon will be a freshman at the university this fall.

HPU alumni to serve in Thailand

By Kendyl Moore, HPU senior

BROWNWOOD – June 28, 2013 – Howard Payne University alumni Ricky ’07 and Amy (Perkins)’07 Board of Fort Worth will spend six weeks in northern Thailand this summer, teaching and developing a community health worker training program.

“We will provide support and capacity-building services to enhance the overall sustainability and impact of these projects,” states Amy Board.

Ricky Board, a first grade teacher in Fort Worth, will teach and do other support work at Chiang Rai International Christian School, founded by a Christian group in Thailand. A leader in his own school district in identifying educational iPad apps and incorporating them into his lessons, he will assist with the integration of technology tools into classrooms.

“I am eager to share what I have learned with the staff at the school and to help them identify other technology-based tools that can assist their teachers,” he said.

Amy Board will work with a locally based and operated community development organization to help develop a pilot community health worker training program among local villagers. This will allow village leaders to be trained on basic hygiene and health practices and spread that knowledge to the rest of the community. Her work will meet the requirements for a public health practicum by the University of North Texas Health Science Center for her master’s degree in public health.

She discussed the preparation they both received as HPU students.

“My involvement in HPU’s Academy of Freedom honors program and social work program certainly set the stage for an understanding of the complex forces of political oppression, poverty and strategies for community development,” she said. “I also served as a summer missionary to Central Asia through HPU with GoNow missions in 2006, furthering my desire to put those skills and knowledge into place in the international arena.

“Ricky’s experiences at HPU made him passionate about impacting the lives of children, ultimately launching him into a career as an elementary teacher. The summer after he graduated from HPU, he served on a short-term mission trip to an orphanage in Sudan, and this experience has also put a desire on his heart to find a way to use his gifts and abilities in an overseas context.”

The Boards have been planning this trip since October and say they are very excited to work with the people of northern Thailand. They first became interested in working with the people of Thailand after working in Fort Worth with refugees from the similar region of Myanmar.

“Education and health are some of the most valuable tools for raising people out of poverty and empowering them to reach their fullest potential,” Amy Board said. “This is what we want to accomplish while we are in Thailand this summer: not simply doing something for others, but helping them to realize what they can accomplish on their own.”

Chiang Rai International Christian School is looking for more teachers like Ricky Board who would like to work in an English-speaking school that reaches out to Thai families and teaches children of missionaries from all organizations. For more information, visit

The Boards will blog about their experiences in Thailand. To follow along on their journey, visit



HPU music major receives scholarship

Hannah StrebeckBROWNWOOD – June 28, 2013 – Howard Payne University’s Hannah Strebeck, a sophomore music education major from Lavon, was named as one of the 2013-2014 recipients of the Clara Freshour Nelson Scholarship.

The Clara Freshour Nelson family provides scholarships for students studying music in Texas schools. The scholarship is renewable until the student graduates.

The scholarship endowment is administered by the Texas Association of Music Schools, an organization comprised of music executives from colleges and universities in the state of Texas.

Strebeck is a member of the HPU marching band, University Singers and Tau Beta Sigma.

“We are very proud of Hannah for receiving this outstanding award,” said Dr. Robert Tucker, dean of music, fine arts and extended education at HPU. “She represents the highest in musical achievement and academic excellence and is well-deserving of this special scholarship. We are also grateful to the Texas Association of Music Schools for their work with the Nelson family in providing this scholarship.”

Strebeck was honored to receive such a prestigious award and voiced her appreciation as well.

“I’m very thankful to my professors for guiding me in the preparation for this scholarship,” she said. “I have been selected among the top musicians in the state of Texas and it happened thanks to God’s grace.”


Photo cutline: Hannah Strebeck, a sophomore at HPU, is one of the 2013-2014 recipients of the Clara Freshour Nelson Scholarship.

HPU honors 233 students for academic success during spring semester

BROWNWOOD – June 28, 2013 – Howard Payne University honored 233 students for academic success during the spring 2013 semester. Students must earn a 4.0 grade point average to be named to the President’s List, a 3.65-3.99 grade point average to be named to the Dean’s List and a 3.5-3.64 grade point average to be named to the Honor Roll.

Receiving honors were:

Ruby Johnson, President’s List

Kaitlin Leslie, Dean’s List

Whitney Turnacliff, Dean’s List

Larissa Lynskey, Dean’s List

Apex, N.C.
Kristen Terway, Dean’s List

Samuel Marich-Edwan, Dean’s List
Allyson Reed, Honor Roll
Brittni West, Dean’s List

Sarah Davies, President’s List
John King, Dean’s List
Rebekah Weaver, President’s List

Presley Parker, President’s List
Jessica Ramirez, Dean’s List
Kaitlin Vernon, Honor Roll

Dylan Wright, Dean’s List

Amber Harris, Honor Roll

Ben Wheeler
Jarrod White, Honor Roll

Big Lake
Samantha Guerrero, Honor Roll

Big Spring
Ethan Yeats, Dean’s List

Boylston, Mass.
Catherine Mullaney, President’s List

Janis Groves, President’s List

Micah Huebner, President’s List

Katy Nix, Dean’s List

Kellie Warner, Honor Roll

Kali Parks, Honor Roll

Stephanie Baldwin, Honor Roll
Nicholas Bennie, Dean’s List
Joel Berends, President’s List
Juanita Cardenas, President’s List
Crystal Carter, Honor Roll
Chasity Cartwright, President’s List
Amber Corley, Dean’s List
Dustin Crager, Honor Roll
Shylah Cutbirth, Dean’s List
Ennis Davila, President’s List
Carminia Del Toro, Dean’s List
Joshua Dillard, Dean’s List
Jeffrey Edmondson, President’s List
Justin Fisher, President’s List
Zachary Gafford, Dean’s List
Bradi Gill, Honor Roll
Stephanie Gutierrez, Honor Roll
Justin Hall, Honor Roll
Meagan Hall, President’s List
Michael Harmon, Honor Roll
Christy Hazelwood, Honor Roll
Matthew Hazelwood, Dean’s List
Lara Hernandez, President’s List
Hayden Hewitt, President’s List
Jeremy Hogue, Honor Roll
Molly Hull, Dean’s List
Kelcie Hunter, President’s List
Jerry Hurt, President’s List
Megan Irwin, Honor Roll
Kerri Jones, President’s List
Erica Jordan, Honor Roll
Andrea Leonard, Honor Roll
Laura Lopez, President’s List
Jarrod McCandless, President’s List
Sean McMahan, Dean’s List
Saulo Mendoza, President’s List
Jason Murphy, Dean’s List
Maitreyee Nigalye, President’s List
Jessica Powers, President’s List
Emily Rainey, Honor Roll
Mary Raschke, Honor Roll
Fernando San Miguel, Honor Roll
Ethan Selman, Dean’s List
Jherica Simental, Dean’s List
Tracer Skelton, Dean’s List
Hillary Stippick, Dean’s List
Travis Taillet, Honor Roll
Zachary Tharp, President’s List
Luis Vallecillo, Dean’s List
Laura Whiteley, President’s List
Joshua Woods, President’s List

Caleb McConnell, President’s List

Anna McCay, Dean’s List

Brooke Goad, Dean’s List

Corissa Brown, Dean’s List
Erik Swenson, Dean’s List

Cedar Hill
Senae Dillard, Honor Roll

Cedar Park
Regan Hogan, President’s List
Ryan Hogan, President’s List
Emily Peisker, Honor Roll
Laura Peisker, President’s List

Chappell Hill
Drew Clanahan, Dean’s List
Haley Clanahan, Honor Roll

Brittany Cavness, Dean’s List

Neal Kucinski, Honor Roll

Molly Pritchard, Dean’s List
Allison Straach, Honor Roll

Nathan Byrd, Dean’s List

Katie Poerner, President’s List

Dustin Kelver, Honor Roll

Corpus Christi
Timothy Hardy, President’s List
Samuel Hoffman, Dean’s List

Cross Plains
Samuel Rockett, Dean’s List

Lauren Wilmer, Honor Roll

Alejandro Guerrero, Dean’s List
Shardena Hudson, Dean’s List

Landon Hankins, Dean’s List

Derby, Kan.
Charity Chambers, President’s List

Gabriela Crunelle, President’s List
Michael Crunelle, Dean’s List

Conner Drew, President’s List
Addison Ebarb, Dean’s List
Kelli Ezzell, President’s List
Mark Parker, Dean’s List
Jasimine Sterling, Honor Roll

Corey Howie, Honor Roll
Keeley Lowrance, President’s List
Tiffani Peeples, President’s List

Baylee Wolcott, Honor Roll

Andrea Peaster, Honor Roll

El Paso
Martha Barranco, President’s List
Oscar Guillen, Honor Roll
Itza Jaramillo, Dean’s List
Mark Johnston, Dean’s List
Grace Stout, Dean’s List

Erie, Colo.
Hannah Jansen, President’s List

Farmington, N.M.
Kendyl Moore, Honor Roll

Luis Robles, Dean’s List
Daniel Taylor, President’s List

Flower Mound
Hannah Hicks, President’s List

Fort Davis
Kyla Zimdars, President’s List

Fort Hood
Samantha Coronado, Honor Roll

Fort Myers, Fla.
Sarah Weber, Dean’s List

Fort Worth
Keafer Clegg, Honor Roll
Jennifer Madsen, Honor Roll

Chandler Condra, Dean’s List

Dillan Hanks, Honor Roll
Allisha McClure, Honor Roll

Amanda Driggers, Dean’s List

Marlie Austin, Honor Roll
Rachel Ellington, President’s List

Colton McCabe, Dean’s List
McKamie Place, Dean’s List

George West
Hillary Sellman, Honor Roll

Brittany Bailey, Dean’s List
Brandi Castillon, Honor Roll
Heather Clayton, Dean’s List
Lindsey Jones, Honor Roll

Melanie Robison, Honor Roll

Tolli Wylie, President’s List

Jonathan Grady, Honor Roll
Judi Parten, Honor Roll

Jaime Johnston, Honor Roll

Grand Junction, Colo.
Elizabeth Rogers, Dean’s List

Richard Young, Honor Roll

Jessi Jordan, President’s List

Hobbs, N.M.
Joshua Puckett, Honor Roll

Kathryn Barrackman, President’s List
Tonya Bloomer, President’s List
Kerrie Ford, President’s List
Bertha Mendoza, President’s List
Dariann Reed, Dean’s List

Taylor Cook, Dean’s List

Kyndal Broome, Dean’s List

Morgan Griffith, Dean’s List

Iowa Park
Joshua Farquharson, President’s List

Kaleigh Tankersley, Honor Roll

Natalie Batres, Honor Roll

Kevin Domingue, Dean’s List

Trent Gainey, Dean’s List

Amanda Cruddas, Honor Roll

La Grange
Valerie Marrs, President’s List

Jennifer Hilla, Dean’s List
Christa Lee, Dean’s List
Kelsan Wolverton, Honor Roll

Ethan West, President’s List

Michelle Hawkins, President’s List

Kyle Huesing, President’s List

Katie Bonner, President’s List

Bryan Pate, Honor Roll
Heather Starnes, Honor Roll

Nellie Clevenger, Dean’s List
Cassandra Jolly, Honor Roll
Rebecca Knighton, President’s List
Joshua Milam, Dean’s List
Gage Smith, Dean’s List

Gabriella Guest, Honor Roll

Missoula, Mont.
Rebekah Johnson, Honor Roll

Ethan Fisher, President’s List

Naples, Fla.
Robin Scofield, Dean’s List

Katie Murphy, Dean’s List

Timber Curtis, President’s List

Rebecca Lamar, Honor Roll

James Castleberry, Dean’s List
Kelley Miller, Dean’s List

Allison Morrison, Honor Roll

Jonathan Henderson, Honor Roll

Erica Lopez, Honor Roll

Port Arthur
Sharon Jarquin, President’s List

Megan Haverlah, Dean’s List

Red Oak
Analicia Guerrero, Honor Roll
Jeremy Masterson, Honor Roll

Ivyanne Nichols, Dean’s List

Nathanael Adams, Dean’s List
Cantrell Miller, Dean’s List

Blaine Wynn, Honor Roll

Matthew Melendez, Honor Roll

Katherine Dobson, Dean’s List
Kyle Heidelberg, President’s List
Andrew Lewis, Honor Roll

Royse City
Hannah Strebeck, President’s List

San Angelo
Cara DeLoach, President’s List

San Antonio
Angelica Gray, Dean’s List
Victoria Krawczynski, President’s List

San Saba
Marshal Mcintosh, Honor Roll

Santa Anna
Shelbie Deleon, Honor Roll
Jonathan Holland, Honor Roll

Zachary Hefton, President’s List

Sierra Blanca
Rachel Moore, Honor Roll

Dillon Adams, Honor Roll

Colette Wilcoxen, Honor Roll

Spring Branch
Ashley Biering, Honor Roll

Courtney Officer, Dean’s List
Courtney Tatum, President’s List

Bryson Wallace, Honor Roll

Jack Wells, President’s List

Tom Bean
Amaris Bertholf, Dean’s List

Ashleigh Felkins, President’s List

Timothy Marlin, President’s List

Sarah Belser, President’s List

Camryn D’rubio, Dean’s List

Nicole Bird, Honor Roll

Ashley Moon, Honor Roll
Michael Snow, Dean’s List

Wesley Livingston, Honor Roll

Lacy Culpepper, President’s List
Katherine Roddam, Honor Roll

There is still time to register for HPU’s Summer Scholars and Young Scholars programs

By Kaleigh Tankersley, HPU junior

BROWNWOOD – June 28, 2013 – Howard Payne University will host its annual Summer Scholars and Young Scholars programs July 15-19 from 9 a.m. to noon on HPU’s Academy of Freedom campus. The programs are still open for registration and will feature innovative instruction in a variety of subjects, including music for the younger students and robotics for the older students. The theme for this year is “Brainpower and the Body” which will include instruction in biology and the various functions of the body including the brain, heart, lungs, bones and muscles.

“This program is designed for students of all levels,” said Dr. Julie Welker, director of the programs. Dr. Welker is the chair of the communication department and professor of communication at HPU. “Whether your child struggles in reading or is a great reader, he or she will be engaged and challenged. We try to reach each student on an individual level and let him or her enjoy learning new and fun material.”

This year’s Summer Scholars teachers include Melinda Elkins, seventh-grade language arts teacher and head cross-country coach at Early Middle School and assistant basketball and track coach at Early High School; Tami Hull, sixth-grade science teacher at Early Middle School and coach of the robotics and University Interscholastic League science and mathematics teams; Dr. Kristen Hutchins, assistant professor of biology at HPU, who holds a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction in the area of science education; and Dr. Evelyn Romig, professor of English at HPU, who holds a doctoral degree in English.

Young Scholars teachers include Melinda Elkins; Deanna Erxleben, adjunct instructor of music at HPU, who holds a master’s degree in vocal performance with a concentration in voice science and pedagogy reading; Jennifer McKibben, eighth-grade science teacher at Early Middle School; and Clairissa Tucker, second-grade biology teacher at Bangs ISD who holds a master’s degree in education.

In the Summer Scholars program, students entering fourth through sixth grades will study robotics, computer graphics, reading, biology and physical education. Young Scholars is designed for children entering first through third grades. The campers will receive instruction in music, biology, reading and physical education.

“Summer and Young Scholars is a great program that enables students to do a lot of hands-on learning,” Dr. Welker said. “In the educational age in which we live, students spend more time learning to take a specific test and less time getting to do critical thinking and problem-solving activities. We like to provide that type of learning in our program.”

Cost for the Summer Scholars and Young Scholars programs is $100 per student and includes a souvenir, snacks and supplies. Registration will be accepted until the program begins on July 15.

“We make it a priority to send our kids to sports camps and get plenty of physical activity during the summer, but we also need to provide mental exercise for our children,” said Dr. Welker. “Summer and Young Scholars is a great way to do that. Kids get to sharpen their mental skills in a fun yet challenging environment.”

For more information about the Summer Scholars and Young Scholars programs, contact Dr. Welker at (325) 649-8508 or via e-mail at You can also join the Facebook group by searching for “Summer and Young Scholars” on



HPU professor and dean recalls experiences in North Korea

Bryant in North Korea[This story was originally published in the summer 2013 issue of the HPU Update.]

In 2012, Dr. Pam Bryant, professor of chemistry and dean of Howard Payne University’s School of Science and Mathematics, delivered a message titled “The Magnitude of God” at the annual meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation at Wheaton College in Naperville, Ill. Shortly after her speech ended, she was approached by two people who presented her with an opportunity to learn even more about the power of God in her own life.

“I was introduced to Joshua Song and Pilju Kim,” Dr. Bryant said. “They talked to me about a school in North Korea that taught in English and was run by Christian faculty.”

Pilju Kim, who serves as the director of agricultural research and development at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, explained that the university needed a biochemist for the summer.

“They wanted to know if I was interested,” Dr. Bryant recalled. “All I could think was, ‘Surely you must mean South Korea!’ I didn’t even know that Americans could go to North Korea.”

She admitted that she didn’t know much about the communist country or its citizens.

“All I knew was that they were our enemy and that they were trying to make a nuclear bomb,” she said. “However, sometimes you just know when God is calling you to do something.”

After much prayerful consideration, and many discussions with her pastor, friends and family, Dr. Bryant agreed to teach biochemistry for eight weeks in May-June 2012 in Pyongyang to 20 undergraduate and seven graduate students.

Pyongyang University of Science and Technology is the only private university in North Korea and is funded in part by Christian donors from around the world. Though North Korea is largely closed off from the rest of society, the university brings scientists from other cultures to teach its students. The Christians who support the university seize the opportunity to share the love of God, however indirectly, with the students.

“I was not allowed to minister to my class or even mention God,” Dr. Bryant said. “But I made an effort to show the Christian spirit. These young people are taught daily that Americans are mean and evil, so I showed them the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23, such as peace, patience and goodness.”

Upon arrival in North Korea, she was required to surrender her passport and cell phone, and was housed in a compound surrounded by a fence and guards during the length of her stay.

“Outsiders cannot talk directly with ordinary people in North Korea, nor may they use the taxis,” Dr. Bryant said. “They must communicate through a minder (escort) and use an official driver.”

According to Dr. Bryant, the North Korean government realizes its students are behind in science education due to these strict societal rules. Rather than sending students out of the country to expand their educations, the government officials recruit scientists from around the world so that their students may experience other cultures while still remaining under their control. Dr. Bryant found her class to be very receptive to her teaching.

“These students were so hungry for knowledge they would sometimes come to class almost exhausted from trying to learn so much so fast,” she said. “The students all appreciated the opportunity they were given in my classroom. I worked to be a good steward for the U.S., my God and the subject I taught.”

Last fall, Dr. Bryant presented a paper titled “Teaching Biochemistry in Pyongyang, North Korea” at the Fourth International Conference on Science in Society at the University of California, Berkeley. She spoke with colleagues from universities around the world.

“I was sent to North Korea to come back and tell the world about my experiences,” she said. “This university in Pyongyang is a gift from God. It’s there because of the people who say ‘yes’ when God asks for simple things.”

To view Dr. Bryant’s complete article as presented at the University of California, Berkeley, click here.

Photo cutline: HPU’s Dr. Pam Bryant teaches a class at North Korea’s Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. (Photo by Yu Chon)