For the Farrington household, Trevecca’s 2022 commencement convocations constituted an all-day affair with very special meaning. Bryan and his wife Tonya graduated on the same day in separate ceremonies: Bryan with a bachelor’s degree in Christian ministry and Tonya with a master’s degree in organizational leadership (MOL).
Between ceremonies, they shared about the unique aspects of working toward respective goals at the same time and in the same space with a spouse.
Q: How did each of you come to choose Trevecca for your education?
Tonya: We chose Trevecca because the school has a partnership with the Salvation Army. We are both Salvation Army officers and it gave us an opportunity to continue our education.
Q: How would you describe your Trevecca experience?
Bryan: For me, it’s been a journey to complete college after twenty years plus. To be able to make it here, right in the midst of our kids also finishing their degrees is just astronomical to me. It’s an incredible experience.
Tonya: My Trevecca experience was rewarding. It gave me the opportunity to increase my strengths and work with other people. I was able to learn, grow and develop my craft.
Q: What was it like being in school together?
Bryan: We traded off responsibilities; I got the house while she finished her paper, or I’d say, ‘Can you do this, I have this assignment due?’ It was great because we understood what the other was going through, and that in itself was a source of encouragement. You know you have someone in your corner cheering you on. Whenever we could help each other, we would. It was a blessing.
Q: What challenges did you face, both being in school at the same time?
Tonya: As adult learners, going to school while you still have a full time job and being married for almost thirty years with three children is a lot. The difficulty was learning how to balance, but it was a lot easier than it could've been.
Bryan: For me, going back to school after being out for so many years was a challenge in itself. And you’re still trying to manage life and provide for kids who are in college and navigate life around their needs. It was a challenge, but it was a rewarding experience. Knowing our family was behind us and approving of what we were doing meant a lot.Bryan, Tonya and their three children
Q: How did your degree programs make things easier for a person with a full life and a busy schedule?
Tonya: We were both able to take classes at our own pace, so we generally didn’t have to be in class at the same time. Trevecca having the online program really gave us the opportunity to make sure we had a healthy balance.
Bryan: At the same time, we came on campus and did some intensives, so you still get the chance to have the college experience and meet some of the people who are in the same classes as you, and that made it enjoyable.
Q: What were some of the important concepts you learned?
Tonya: A masters in organizational leadership is so helpful in the Salvation Army. I’ve learned a lot about team building, servant leadership, fundraising and leading in diverse communities. All of those areas are very beneficial for what Salvation Army officers do.
Bryan: I learned a lot in class about working with different populations and helping them through the circumstances they are experiencing. I have some great tools that I’ll be able to put into my tool belt, and I can see the direct benefits of the things that I learned for the future.
Q: What made Trevecca a special place, in your experience?
Tonya: Trevecca is special because of the people and their heart for the Lord. I have loved the interaction with my professors and classmates. Everyone had a heart to serve God and everyone wanted to use their time, talents and gifts to make sure the Kingdom of God was advancing. That's what makes Trevecca special. You can go anywhere and get a degree, but when you have people who are on fire for the Lord it’s a whole different experience.
That's what makes Trevecca special. You can go anywhere and get a degree, but when you have people who are on fire for the Lord it’s a whole different experience.
Q: What does it mean to you to be celebrating this day together?
Bryan: It’s incredible to have a teammate to go through this with and to finish it together. It is amazing to have our kids here with us and to see this as a legacy we’re passing on to them.
Tonya: The fact that we’ve been able to do it together is wonderful. It’s like the Lord keeps giving us stamps of approval saying ‘Tonya and Bryan, I am not done with you yet.’