A New Chapter in College Life

GCD graduation

Three years ago, I never thought I would be writing this post. I ever thought I would be a college graduate. I never thought I would ever achieve higher education. I never thought I would have a degree. I never… Well you get the point. I simply never thought I could be where I am today. Yet here I stand with an Associate degree. I am pretty proud of that. Not the unbiblical kind of proud (not that there is a biblical kind of proud I guess). I just simply mean I am excited to be where I am in life.


Nearly four years ago, I was given a great opportunity by being ordained as a pastor at GraceLife Church. I stood before the congregation and Pastor Carlo gave me a challenge and then gave me a huge responsibility and privilege to lead GraceLife as an associate pastor. The church prayed over me and set me forth in my new adventure. One of the responsibilities was ongoing education. He wanted me to continue my learning in the faith and recommended I return to school.


Me and Pastor (Professor) Carlo and Levi

I could have taken a free bible course but Carlo was working as an adjunct professor at Grace College of Divinity (GCD) in North Carolina so I took a leap of faith and applied for FAFSA and began my student orientation. I was accepted and there I was, a college student.

I worked hard. I studied hard. I applied myself to the point of negating my family causing a lot of strain on my marriage. We worked together to get through the trials but it was a tough road. I learned so much about the bible, church, college life, myself, my marriage and my family and even though there were some major bumps in the road I wouldn’t trade it in because the growth we sustained from it is immeasurable.

GCD Graduation - me and Steve Crowther

Dr. Steven Crowther. President of Grace College of Divinity.

When it was time to graduate, I cried. Hard! I tried to hold back the tears standing there listening to my professors as they challenged us, encouraged us and prayed over us. I tried to hold back the tears as I stood there and heard my name called and those first few steps seemed surreal as I walked to accept my diploma. I shook the hands of each of my professors thanking them for their dedication to see me through it. They will never know (maybe they will because they have been there themselves) the respect and gratitude I have for them as we worked through ever paper and every exam.

Professor Tom Johnson, Dean of Distance Education

Professor Tom Johnson, Dean of Distance Education

There are so many people who stands behind my degree and without them, I would not be who I am today. Because of them and their belief in me, I walked across the stage as Summa Cum Laude (Highest Honors). I will forever be grateful!

With that being said, here we go again. Today, I begin my Bachelors in Christian Leadership. As I examine the courses I will have to hurdle I do believe this is going to be much harder. I am up for the challenge and a challenge it will be. I look forward to the day that I can look back and see what I have gone through as I again walk the stage to receive that piece of paper (that nothing is written on).

Associate degree

So let’s do this.


Images of the blood, sweat and tears.

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About Kevin Riner
child of grace, worshiper of Jesus, husband, father, Pastor of Village Church, author of Faith Debugged

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