Bonnie Shelton Ford

Originally from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, Bonnie recently joined the Executive Alumni Board (EAB) as the representative for the School of Government.  A graduate of RSG ('08) and a former Government Affinity Chair for the Dallas/Ft. Worth Chapter, Ford is uniquely prepared to both reach out to fellow RSG alumni and to serve the greater alumni community. Recently, Bonnie sat down to discuss her history with Regent and her appointment to the EAB.

EM: What brought you to Regent and the Robertson School of Government?
BF: I graduated Magna Cum Laude at Lee University when I was 20, but I knew that I wasn't finished with my education. I thought that I wanted to return home to Texas to earn my PhD but when I visited Regent in the fall of 2005, I was attracted by the motto “Christian Leadership to Change the world.” I ended up completing a joint degree with an MA in Journalism and an MA in Government, with a concentration in Terrorism & Homeland Defense. Regent was the perfect fit for me.

EM: How do you feel that your time at Regent University uniquely prepared you for your current position?
BF: There were two experiences at Regent that impressed upon me to continually pursue excellence in my craft. The first experience was working as a graduate assistant  in the School of Communications and the Arts. I had the opportunity to work for some wonderful people both staff and professors and it was through this experience that I got to experience the other side of academia. I got to see the professor’s excitement in teaching students who had come to this school for better preparation in changing the world. Their passion for educating others was contagious. The second experience was a summer internship working for CBN Jerusalem where I worked for Regent alumni Chris Mitchell, John Waage, and Erin Zimmerman. They each taught me how to pursue God and present Christian truths in a secular environment.

When I was 23, I taught my very first college class and this year, I was one of four faculty who won the outstanding professor of the year finalist out of 713 part time faculty. I wouldn’t have been able to do this successfully had I not been prepared by my professors and colleagues at Regent. One of the lessons I learned at Regent is that excellence isn’t delegated; it is cultivated. I currently work as an associate professor for two community colleges and although I work at a secular school and teach in a secular classroom, I am able to address the Christian foundation of our government and teach sound principles of government. I learned how to communicate these in an appropriate way because of my professors at Regent.

EM: What is your favorite thing about what you do?
BF: I have a passion for teaching and seeing students “awaken” to the world around them and I have a dedication to the local community. I love the fact that I am a Christian leader and I am changing the world at the most basic level. I also love that I am walking in the legacy of my grandmother who taught Biology and Botany at Kilgore Community College for 28 years. Sadly, she died five years before I started teaching but when I read a newspaper article about her retirement and impact on the local community, her words struck my core values. She said, “Teaching is very rewarding if you have in mind the students accomplishments. If you are reaching the students, it’s rewarding.” She was right.

EM: Where do you hope to be in five years? Ten?
BF: In five years I hope to be still teaching. I’d like to remain at the community college level for as long as I can. Our communities need good schools and great educators. If we want strong communities then we need to provide them with the means to become adequately prepared for life and all that encompasses. This is more than just a diploma, it includes a foundation for living a successful life, serving others and making the world a better place. I firmly believe that a community college can be one of the best resources a city can have. In ten years I’d like to have completed my PhD and authored at least one American government textbook. I’d like to introduce a more conservative worldview.

EM: What drew you to the EAB and what do you hope to accomplish on RSG's behalf during your tenure?
BF:  Like the other members, I want to see that our diverse and worldwide alumni are consistently engaged in the core mission of Regent. The EAB wants to offer more support to our alumni chapters and see more engagement with faculty and alumni post-graduation. We also want to see that our important task of raising financial support is continuously successful. I joined the EAB for the same reason I joined the DFW alumni chapter: I want to nurture relationships with alumni and get them involved in the current life of the university. It is comforting to know that the university continues to care for alumni after they leave and begin their mission to change the world. As an EAB member, I can take part of this exchange with alumni around the world and interact with alumni outside of the DFW area.  

I wanted to join the EAB after having served as president of the Student Alumni Ambassadors (SAA) and on the DFW chapter board. While I was an ambassador, I saw the need for more connections between online students and alumni. As an affinity chair for the DFW chapter, I made a concerted effort to see that current students were connecting with alumni at our events.

Changing the world as Christian leaders is much easier when you're working together instead of alone.  It doesn't matter if you graduated from the School of Education in 2010, are currently studying in the School of Divinity, or graduated during the decades the school was called CBN University. Christian leadership has the biggest impact when it utilizes the whole body of Christ, and we have the opportunity the change the world in partnership rather than alone. This is why I joined the EAB and why I am pleased to serve as your representative for the Robertson School of Government