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Career Profiles Home
  School of the Arts:
Owner and Artistic Director, comedy club
Freelance Photo Stylist
Director of Theatre
Professor of Music
Artist and College Slide Librarian
Graphic Designer
  School of Education and Social Sciences:
Church Planter/Missionary
Social Work Case Manager
Graduate Student/ Teaching Assistant
Kindergarten Teacher
Professor of Family Studies
Abstinence Education Director
  School of Health and Natural Sciences:
Ranch Specialist/Financial Advisor
Nurse Practitioner/ Entrepreneur
Director of Parks and Recreation
Professor of Chemistry
Research Investigator, pharmaceuticals
General Manager, AA baseball
Wellness Coordinator, rehab center
Director of Recreation Commission
Pediatric Research Dietician
  School of Humanities:
Church Planter/Missionary
Attorney & Bank VP
Manager, global business development
Federal Public Defender
General Counsel and VP, network security company
Coordinator, urban initiative and Founder, "Forgotten Voices"
Director, non-profit Christian community
Foreign Language Area Studies fellow
Pastor of Student Ministries
Administrative Judge, state government
Dean of Students
Event Planner/ Entrepreneur
Prison Chaplain
Director of Music Production Company
Director of College Diversity
  School of Mathematics, Engineering, and Business:
Professor of Mathematics
Sales and Marketing Coordinator, Istanbul
Human Resources Manager
Graduate Student, Ph.D. program
President, global non-profit organization
Partner, accounting firm
Professor of Biostatistics
Computer Consultant/ Entrepreneur

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Kimberly ThornburyCareer Profiles
Kimberly Thornbury
Graduated: 1993
Major: Communication
Dean of Students, Union University

The Messiah Experience
Kimberly credits her time at Messiah with teaching her how to “integrate faith and learning in a real-world setting.” She did not hesitate to take advantage of Messiah's wide variety of extracurricular opportunities, participating in the Los Angeles Film Studies program, getting involved with theatre productions, working as the Productions Director for the campus radio station WVMM, and participating in Bible studies. Her overall experience at Messiah taught her how to think and how to be “a problem-solver and an incredible thinker,” she observes, adding,“[Messiah] taught me the value of an encouraging word.”

“It was an incredible major,” Kimberly says of her focus in communication. “It taught me to communicate ideas verbally and in written form,” she observes, appreciating the cultivation of these skills that are essential in nearly every career. Kimberly also learned to “formulate ideas in captivating ways,” an ability that has proven quite useful in a position that requires daily interaction with many people.

What to Do Next
Kimberly knew she wanted to remain in a higher education environment after graduation: “The college setting is a very exciting and dynamic setting. It’s a time of change. I wanted to be a part of that change, wanted to walk alongside students during a part of that growth.” Kimberly was so impacted by her own college experience that she decided to continue in an academic atmosphere, helping others find enrichment during their own college years.


• "Do a few things well, not many things half-heartedly."
• "Earn respect by being excellent at what you do."
• "You don't need to be a monk or missionary or pastor. You can practice your faith in your vocation anywhere.  God is just as glorified by an accountant who rarely makes mistakes as by an incredible musician."

Dynamic Process
Kimberly moved quickly from her own college graduation to an entry-level position in student development at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Tennessee. But before she could attain the job she desired, she needed a postgraduate degree. As she continued in student development, Kimberly worked on her master's degree in higher administration at the University of Louisville. While getting that and her Ph.D. (in educational leadership from Regent University) Kimberly "worked very hard," as she recalls. "I said ‘yes’ to every project that came my way." Kimberly's diligence paid off. She eventually worked her way up to Dean of Students at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, a position she still holds.

A Typical Day
From her own time as an undergrad, Kimberly understands that the college experience is defined by much more than one's academic concentration.  In her position, she finds, "I focus my attention on the 91% of time that students spend out of the classroom." She works to "create a seamless learning community." As the chief student development officer, Kim is in a leadership position for 11 departments on campus, which entails a considerable amount of  time processing paperwork and attending meetings. Kimberly spends as much time as she can, however, attending undergraduate activities and spending time with students—even scheduling time to attend student Bible studies and small groups.

"I serve God through serving others," Kimberly says. "I see my role as very pastoral: building relationships, walking alongside students, strengthening students' faith, so that when they graduate, their faith is solid. I am where God wants me to be."


Discover the career journeys of other Messiah grads who work in higher education:

Stephen Lias, professor of music theory

Robin Miller, head of slide library

Fabienne Doucet, assistant professor of family studies

Jon Benda, professor of foreign languages and literature

Tonya King, associate professor of biostatistics

Owen Byer, professor of mathematics


Profile by Angela Kriebel, 2005


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