By Blake Jenkins | Minister to College Students

BETA n: [a] a specific, step-by-step description of a sequence or climb in mountain climbing; [b] often vital information to get through a particularly difficult section. [c] information about the specific moves for a climb.

The college years can be both exhilarating and daunting. During this pivotal season, students are looking forward (hopefully and prayfully) and are exploring next steps to get where they believe God is leading them.

As exhilarating and freeing as this time is, the journey is full of unfamiliar terrain with varied obstacles and difficulties. It can feel like attempting to summit a mountain without gear or any sort of idea of where to even start the ascent.

BETA is a program to help equip and guide college students in the midst of their current season while setting them up for fruitfulness in the next. As partners in this program, they have the opportunity to learn from gifted and skilled pastors, ministers, and directors who have climbed (and are still climbing) in their respective fields. We mentors will help them navigate through the different paths of ministry that they are exploring, while also learning from them as they help us chart new paths.

In BETA, our students are a part of something bigger that will outlast their time in college. Here are the members of our Charter Class along with a few fun facts below. †


Ben Hewitt
College Ministry
Ben is from Tampa, Florida, and plans to graduate from Samford University in May 2020 with a degree in History and Religion. After graduation, Ben would like to pursue a seminary degree and will also be getting married this summer.

Brooke Warden
Student Ministry
Brooke is originally from Picayune, Mississippi, and studies sociology at Samford. She is an avid tea drinker and a firm believer in always reading more books.

Jacqueline Bye
Kids Ministry
Jacqueline, a Montgomery, Alabama, native, is an Elementary Education major at UAB. When she is not shooting off confetti cannons around Dawson, she is petting every dog she sees.

Julianna Smith
Student Ministry
Julianna is from Birmingham, Alabama, and attends Samford, where she studies Early Childhood/Special Education and Ministry. When she is not at Dawson, you can find her at a bookstore, thrifting, or getting coffee with students!

Hannah Creel
Music & Worship
Hannah is from Morris, Alabama, and is a sophomore at Samford University, where she studies Music Education with a concentration on Vocal/Choral. When she isn’t in the music building, she enjoys cooking and discovering new music.

Payton Rackley
Kids Ministry
Payton is a native Texan studying Psychology and Spanish at Samford University. In her spare time between classes and church, she loves to read and continues her search for the most authentic Mexican food in Birmingham.

Jackson Vaughan
Music & Worship
Jackson is a junior Instrumental Music Education major at Samford University. He is from Birmingham, Alabama, and when he’s not inclass (or the practice room), you can usually find him at Chipotle.

David Ivester
Student Ministry
David is from Huntsville, Alabama, and attends Birmingham-Southern College. He is studying Business Administration with a concentration in Management. When he is not at Dawson, David is working out or practicing with the football team at Birmingham-Southern.

Morgan Champion
Morgan is from Charleston, South Carolina, and majors in Religion at Samford. She hopes to work in ministry and spread the light of Jesus. Morgan loves spending time with her friends and family and especially loves anything Disney.

Cole Frier
Student Ministry
Cole is from Lake City, Florida, and studies Business Marketing with a minor in Biblical Studies at Samford. Cole wants to pursue ministry after college. You can always find him with a cup of coffee nearby.

Olivia Griffin
Olivia is from Atlanta, Georgia, and attends Samford University, where she studies Graphic Design. When she is not at Dawson you can find her at Cookie Fix in Homewood. Her favorite flavor is the Plain Jane (*wink wink*).

Jacob Lindsey
Jacob is from Vestavia, Alabama, and attends Samford University, where he studies Business/Pre-law. He always has a camera in his hand, ready to capture the moment.