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2022 EU Distinguished Alumni: Dr. Larry and Sondra Wilson

 

Name:   Larry W. Wilson | Sondra J. (Gilmore) Wilson

Graduation Year:  1964 | 1963

Major:   Biology Education | Math Education

Current Position:   Retired

City and State:   Dallas, Texas

 

Tell us about your career and what you do now.

Larry:

Now I am retired. I have had three separate careers since graduating from Evangel “College”.  I graduated from Evangel in January 1964, with a degree in Biology Education.  I was unable to find a teaching position, so I went to work for a small company that had recently merged, Frito-Lay.  I worked in the Research Department at Frito-Lay for 18 months and then went to graduate school at the University of Georgia where Mr. Lay had a research grant.

In my first career, I worked for Frito-Lay in their Research Department for 22 years.

My second career was a result of a cooperate restructuring at Frito-Lay.  I took a position as the Administrator of Eastlake Christian School, a private elementary school, sponsored by Dallas First Assembly God.

My third career was a High School Teacher.  I taught mathematics and science classes at the Science and Engineer Magnet School (SEM) in Dallas. SEM was rated in the top 5 High Schools in the nation by U.S. News and one year it was rated #1.

Sondra:

I taught high school math for 21 years and then became a CPA.  I worked in public accounting and ended my professional career as President and CEO of an investment advisory firm.  I established a private tax practice in the 1980s and continue to work on a part-time basis.

           

What is your favorite memory from Evangel?

Larry:

Several things come to mind.  I really enjoyed the dorm life and making close friends with so many different individuals.

I really liked the small classes and the opportunity I had to interact with my professors.

The spiritual aspects of Evangel were the anchor for the rest of my life.

Sondra:

I cannot single it to one favorite.  There were many events that impacted my life.  I recall being able to develop meaningful relationships with faculty and staff; often, they would invite students to their homes and include us in their family activities.  There was the opportunity to make lifelong friendships through compassion activities like “Apple Day”.  One memory is of a time during Spiritual Emphasis week when the manifest presence of God filled the chapel and prayer continued night and day.  When I left, immediately I felt drawn back to a place of prayer.  Finally, I recall being selected by the faculty to attend the Washington Seminar during my junior year.  We traveled by car, stopping each night to hold church services and stay in homes along the way.  That was my first trip to D.C. and it made a tremendous impact upon me.

 

How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?

Larry:

I was continually told by my family, teachers, and others that I should be an engineer because of my mathematic ability and my love for science. I transferred to Evangel after two years of studying engineering.  I was miserable studying engineering.  Evangel got me away from the noise of engineering and allowed me to focus on what I really enjoyed, teaching.

Sondra:

I knew I wanted to be a math teacher, but my experiences at Evangel showed me that I had more to share with my students than education.  Throughout my teaching career, we always made opportunities to invite students to our home.  I learned the value of that from my teachers at EU.  (I realize in the educational environment today that the activity would no longer be permitted in local school districts.)

How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?

Larry:

I entered Evangel with a strong background in mathematics and physical sciences. Evangel helped me to grow spiritually and develop skills in life sciences, chemistry, and education.  This unique background allowed me to successfully compete in a variety of environments. My science and math background provided a strong technical background while my training in education and spiritual development enhanced my ability to mentor and develop subordinates.

Sondra:

At Evangel we had many opportunities to develop leadership skills and learn how to be a member of a team or community.  When I was selected to attend graduate school at the University of Georgia on a National Science Foundation grant, I soon realized how well my classes at EU had prepared me.  I was able to graduate at the top of the group – math teachers who were selected from across the US.  I was invited by my major professor to continue in the graduate school to obtain a doctoral degree.  I did not follow his wishes because Larry and I wanted to start our family.

 

What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?

Larry:

Young people are always asked the question, “What are you going to be when you grow up?”  Most don’t have a good answer and their answers will change as they mature and find other interests. Any college can prepare them for a career, profession or even a good paying job.  Evangel University will prepare students for life!

Sondra:

Concentrate on obtaining a good education and trust God to guide and direct your use of that knowledge.  Look at every career as a path to reach out to others and develop relationships so you can be a creditable witness for Jesus.

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?

Larry:

Probably their chapel attendance at Evangel and their participation in their home church.  Faithfulness to spiritual matters develops strong dependable employees.  You can accomplish more with a dependable employee than with a well-trained employee that is undependable.

Sondra:

I would look for individuals with confidence, humility, sincerity, and a desire to be a part of a successful team.

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