What Sets Covenant Apart
Director of alumni relations Marshall Rowe ’87 reflects on twenty years with Covenant’s unique alumni.
When I considered leaving banking for a position at Covenant, my father told me that whatever line of work I chose, I was going to sell something. Though I found that a bit odd coming from an English teacher, I realized later he always felt he had to sell Shakespeare to his students. For twenty years now, I’ve worked as Covenant’s director of alumni relations. Fortunately for me, Covenant, like Shakespeare, is not hard to sell. Our alumni demonstrate the school’s mission through their creativity, truly significant work, and love and care for their neighbors.
One distinctive of Covenant is the way it prepares you for a life full of change. Every field seems to change rapidly, and Covenant alumni are equipped to adapt and create new solutions. Jim Grauley ’82 worked in the community development department at Bank of America, rehabilitating entire neighborhoods to provide housing for low-income residents. He now works on a $120 million project in New Orleans to help locals rebuild their lives after Hurricane Katrina. Beth Ann Zeller ’83 homeschools her 11 kids and raises goats. I doubt she came to Covenant expecting such a life, in which she would one day defend one of her goats against a 400-pound bear while her husband was off teaching seminary classes. I myself left a budding career in Florida to move to Lookout Mountain and take on a position at my alma mater. Our alumni address the changing world in thoughtful ways, consistent in their values and creative in their vocations.
Breadth is not the only strength of this Covenant education. Our alumni also show depth and expertise in their fields. After twenty years of prosecuting federal criminals, Charysse Alexander ’82 is executive assistant U.S. attorney for the northern district of Georgia. Among other things, she drafts criminal policy and guidance for federal prosecutions and helps train junior assistant U.S. attorneys. Derek Halvorson ’93 is president of Providence Christian College in Pasadena, California, providing vision and oversight for the young school. March Bell ’78 led a team of 400 police officers who shut down more than 50 brothels in a flurry of raids, freeing 150 women and children from that horrific industry. Rob Turner ’89 flies the FA/18 Hornet for the Navy, serving as the point man for more than 6,000 sailors in his armada.
Beyond their professional excellence and ability to create and adapt, Covenant alumni fervently love the people around them. When I visited the aircraft carrier, Rob greeted over half the sailors we met by name and knew the personal lives of all the guys who worked on his plane. I remember Jim speaking about his work on low-income housing, saying “What ministry could I join where I would have $200 million to spend on helping the poor?” March speaks with passion about redeeming the lives of the women and children that he has saved from human trafficking. Beth Ann dedicates herself to raising and educating her children. These alumni are not satisfied just making a living. They live out their callings all over the world, being used by God as he redeems all things.
With two prep-school teachers for parents, I have always seen education as a high priority in life. While traveling on vacations, we used to visit colleges so my parents would have an idea of the kinds of places they might want to encourage their students to attend. I visited 35 colleges before I came to see Covenant. Years later, when I took my current position, I remembered all the other colleges I had seen and was reminded of the unique quality of Covenant. It’s difficult deciding which alumni to talk about in these few paragraphs. There are so many wonderful friends of Covenant living out extraordinary callings, from parents to attorneys to teachers to musicians to entrepreneurs. For these twenty years, it’s been a joy seeing the ways our alumni develop and seek to be used by God. I look forward to meeting more alumni in the next twenty years.