Student Profile: James Cunningham '14

James Cunningham


Class Year


Cookeville, Tennessee


Educational Studies Middle Grades


Youth Ministry


Mathematics and Language Arts


Residence Hall and Floor (for 2011-2012)
Carter-2C-Second floor


Dancing (Hip hop) preferably with friends, volleyball, studying for class, and playing any game that requires laughter, cards, and people.


Favorite place on campus
Any place with a great view of the cities around the mountain. I love places like the Overlook. Also I enjoy the lawns outside Carter and the chapel.


Do you spend much time off campus?
I actually am doing a youth ministry internship at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Chattanooga. I love the awesome people there, and we have a blast. It takes me about twenty minutes to get there on Sunday and Wednesday, but I love it nonetheless. On the weekends I love to have a few people jump in my truck and drive to grab some dinner off the mountain. My personal favorite is Genghis Grill, but if I were to choose a restaurant unique to Chattanooga, it would probably be either CheeBurger CheeBurger (burgers and shakes) or the Terminal (very sophisticated restaurant but with affordable sandwiches).


Why did you choose Covenant?
I love Covenant’s location so much! It is incredibly unique; I have never seen a school like it. I chose it because it reminded me of a place you would go for a retreat with your church family. I liked the aspect of attending a school where I could “retreat” from other distractions and really soak up all that this school has to offer: rich knowledge and cherished friendships.


How is Covenant unique?
The campus I feel is so tightly knit together, not only in terms of buildings and property, but in terms of relationships between students and professors. I had a hard time balancing fun and Christianity, but Covenant has helped me understand that the two can coincide.


For which part of school were you home schooled?
I was homeschooled all 12 years before coming to Covenant.


Did you have any concerns about coming to Covenant?
I didn't think that I was academically prepared for Covenant, which in many ways was true. I remember calling my mom after receiving a poor grade on an essay. I was so discouraged! She was quick to explain that I wouldn't need to be here if I wasn't looking to improve. Another concern was how I would fit in with the Covenant community that I had heard so much about. I am definitively an extrovert and I sensed the potential to thrive here spiritually, relationally, and in many different ways. I haven't figured out what this looks like completely, but I'm excited to see what God does with these strong desires he has given my heart.


What are some of the benefits of coming to Covenant as a homeschooler?
There are so many people everywhere! I know Covenant is considered a small campus, but I guess it is the number of genuine people that is overwhelming. Since I hadn't had the privilege of being surrounded by friends during my earlier schooling, I was so excited, not necessarily because I got be in classes with friends, but because I got to take on academic tasks together with them. I learned that I internalize so much more when I discuss subjects with classmates.


What has been your favorite experience at Covenant?
I love our dances so much! Covenant has many different clubs, councils, boards and so on that hold an event almost every week. A lot of these events include dancing of some form (I love that about the student body here; they know what is important!). My favorite dance I think would be our Christmas dance held in early December called “Mistletoe Mingle.” Everyone has just finished their last day of classes and we celebrate with some good wholesome dub-step.


What is your favorite class, and why?
I have loved my “Introduction to Teaching” class. There have been a lot of assignments, not to mention the responsibility of student teaching, but I have learned so much practical information about teaching. I have also loved my “Literature for Children” course. Our teacher, Dr. Pennington, is creative with our class time, and I find her class to be enjoyable. She is so knowledgeable, yet values our individual thoughts that we share very, very often in class.


What person at Covenant has had the greatest impact on you, and why?
It is hard to limit this question to one person. I think that my professor for “Intro to Teaching,” Dr. Kaufmann, has impacted me in a way that will last years from now. He draws from a well of knowledge in his educational experiences, and I love grabbing up any cherished information that he offers so freely. Along with Dr. Kaufmann, there is Dr. Ward, who has taught my Old Testament and New Testament courses. He just lavishes you with his vast range of knowledge. He has deep understanding of life and the things he has come to know about the Lord. He often tells us: “You can explain all of life from the novels of Jane Austen and the Godfather movie trilogy.” He often explains that those stories “encompass in their narratives the whole of human experience: joys, sorrows, hope, despair, courage and treachery.” I have always loved stories and people who have a passion to observe the entire life experience, from childhood to adulthood. Dr. Ward reminds us of the wisdom that is found in children by reading us excerpts from The All Better Book. It is profound, the simple things that a child can come up with. Dr. Ward, I feel, wants us to learn from the things that literally surround us.


What's your favorite part of the day at Covenant?
I love seeing familiar faces so often. I get to see the same face sometimes two to five times throughout the day, and even more throughout the week. It reminds me that I am not alone in my hard work at college.


What are your post-graduation plans?
I rarely plan more than 2 weeks ahead of the present time. But in all seriousness, I hope that God will surround me with close friends. I don’t know if he will surround me with new friends or old friends but I do want to have the pleasure of calling them that. Also, I am from Cookeville, Tennessee, just two hours north of school. I don’t want to go anywhere far from there. Most of my family lives there, and there are few things that I enjoy more than some good downtime with the family.


How is Covenant equipping you for the future?
I love learning how to maintain friendships, and learning how to develop them on my own. I place high priority in my relationships with others and find people to be very important in my life. I also feel I’m learning so many useful concepts for teaching with a Christian worldview.