The Value of Higher Education for Nonprofit Leaders - ASU Distinguished Alumnus
I was extremely blessed and humbled to be honored as Angelo State University's Distinguished Alumnus of 2021 on Oct. 16 during ASU’s homecoming. Those who know me understand the emphasis I place on higher education. I believe leaders must be devoted to lifelong learning and professional development. That is why this honor from my alma mater, where I received my bachelor's degree, was deeply touching, memorable, and validating of my own beliefs about the value of education.
As the president and CEO of Buckner International, it's been very important to establish and grow relationships with colleges and universities. In fact, in a previous blog post, I talked in depth about the importance of nonprofit organizations building strategic collaborations with universities. There are many mutual benefits nonprofits can realize from cultivating and exploring relationships with higher educational institutions. Recruiting is a top reason. At Buckner, we seek to connect with college students interested in serving through a faith-based nonprofit. There are a wide variety of careers at Buckner from social work to finance to information technology, although there are many more. Our nonprofit succeeds when we can fill positions with talent placed by collaborating colleges and universities, and colleges and universities succeed when graduates find rewarding work at a Texas-based global nonprofit that aligns with their academic areas of study and professional aspirations.
Another reason to collaborate with colleges and universities is the alignment of mutual goals. Buckner offers different opportunities for college students to have experiences that complement their chosen paths of study, such as through our domestic and international mission work and Shoes for Orphan Souls ministry. Gaining real-world experiences can help prepare students for life after college and assist nonprofits in serving the needs of underserved populations.
One last reason to work with colleges and universities is to connect our existing employees to ongoing educational opportunities. Many Buckner employees pursue higher education while working, and I can say with confidence, it is something our organization embraces and encourages across all areas. The insight professors and programs at universities can offer to our staff helps make our organization more talented and in turn, better equipped to minister to those who need our services.
I'm very thankful for the education I received as an undergraduate student at ASU. It prepared me well to advance throughout my career and set new higher learning goals that helped me grow as a leader. This past weekend I got to experience some nostalgic memories and reflect on where my education has taken me in life. I will continue to pray and seek opportunities where Buckner can collaborate with colleges and universities and encourage anyone reading this post to consider how your own lifelong learning can impact people you lead and serve.