Brian Leslie and Eric Carter were two of the four students who graduated from Huntington University May 15 with Master of Arts degrees in Youth Ministry Leadership. This is the first class to graduate from this online hybrid program.
As youth ministers, Leslie and Carter were already skilled in their crafts, but conferences and seminars were not pushing them to the next level. Their online search brought them to Huntington.
“I felt like there was more out there as far as a deeper level of study,” said Carter, 27, who currently works as a junior-senior high youth minister at Plainfield Christian Church in Comstock Park, Mich., outside of Grand Rapids. “Where a conference is okay, this just adds a greater level of depth.”
Leslie, 38, who works as a youth minister in Plainfield, Ind., (an unaffiliated church also called Plainfield Christian Church, oddly enough), said Huntington’s program stood out from all the others. Here, professors dialog with students, the work is more challenging, and camaraderie is created among students.
“For me, it’s about continuing to do youth ministry in my local context but with better tools,” Leslie said.
“I just don’t know if you would get that everywhere,” Carter said.
Carter, interestingly, had previously worked under Leslie as an intern before beginning his fulltime work in ministry in 2004.
Both Leslie and Carter admit that the last four years have not been easy. They have juggled jobs and families on top of classes and other assignments. But they admit, it has been a rewarding experience that they would not trade, especially since they were able to do it together.