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Sean Bryant of Charlotte has every reason to call his time at Pfeiffer University “the best thing that ever happened to me.”

 

In May, he will earn a Bachelor of Arts in sport management, making him an attractive candidate for positions he has long coveted in coaching or athletics administration. His success as an athlete at Pfeiffer has been unexpected: After basketball, for which Pfeiffer recruited him, didn’t work out, he took up track and field, becoming one of the best sprinters in the USA South Conference and at the ECAC Conference Championships.

 

Numerous opportunities beyond academics and athletics have opened up to him. These have broadened his horizons in such areas as leadership, the arts (he sang in several choirs), and religion. They have come to underscore his outlook on life, which is to embrace the fluctuating nature of his interests.

 

At Pfeiffer, all this could happen because the school “is smaller,” Bryant said. “You’re called upon more to get involved in more things.”

 

Bryant was called upon to serve as a resident assistant (RA) for three years. He didn’t apply for the position, which is usually the case; instead, Regina Simmons, the director of residence life, appointed him to fill an unexpected vacancy during the summer before his sophomore year.

 

Once Bryant became an RA, much of the free time he knew as a freshman became filled with twice-monthly rounds that took him and another RA through many a dorm. The work, which Bryant now likens to that of a security guard or a first responder, was a critical part of keeping the campus orderly and functional. It meant documenting for Simmons or campus maintenance such things as rules infractions, loud noise during quiet hours, dirty bathrooms, broken furniture and lights that no longer worked.

 

Working as an RA “forced me to adjust to a much different situation,” Bryant said. “It taught me how to work on the fly, and it allowed me to break those limits, to get out of my bubble.”

 

A similar assessment could be made about Bryant’s involvement in Pfeiffer’s religious life – which transformed him into a traveler with a purpose.

 

During his freshman year, he became one of Pfeiffer’s sports chaplains, helping organize weekly meetings of fellowship, Bible study, prayer and talks by guest speakers for the practicing Christians among Pfeiffer’s athletes. Two years later, he was among the sports chaplains who took a Samaritan’s Feet mission trip to the Dominican Republic, where, inspired by a practice described in the Bible, they washed feet and passed out shoes.

 

“I never would have guessed that I would be going out of the country through Pfeiffer,” Bryant said. “I had never been out of the country. I had never been on a plane before. I had never done a mission trip. I had never had to be in an environment where I had to speak another language.”

 

During Bryant’s sophomore year, in 2017, he received an email advertising a Francis Center-sponsored interfaith trip that Pfeiffer’s students could take to Atlanta during spring break. Intrigued, Bryant signed up. He wasn’t disappointed:

 

Over four days or so, he received something of a crash course in such religions as Islam, Mormonism, and Buddhism. A representative from each faith took Pfeiffer’s students on tours of their places of worship, talked about how they practiced their faith and provided some historical background. There were also conversations about stereotypes, differences and similarities.

 

Bryant came to view it all as one of the most groundbreaking and life-changing experiences of his life.

 

“That trip will never leave my heart,” he said. “I think about it a lot.”

Mission Trip