EU Alumni Perspective: Brandon Irwin
Name: Brandon Irwin
Graduation Year: 2004
Major: Art and Education
Current Position: Art Teacher at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School
City and State: Washington D.C.
Tell us about your career and what you do now.
I’ve served in various professional roles from middle school and high school art teaching to administration, instructional coaching, and professional development. I currently teach art at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in DC.
What did you enjoy most during your time at Evangel?
I’m extremely grateful for my time at Evangel. It is rare to have high-caliber professors who care about student success after the semester grades have been entered. I have also been blessed with so many great friends and memories. Finally, I really enjoyed my involvement with Bridges for Youth, an after-school youth center I worked at for 4 years while at EU and have been a partner with for 20 years now. Highlights of my work there included bringing “energetic” neighborhood kids to campus for basketball games and to church. That was a catalyst for me to add education to my art major.
How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?
There are a lot of buzzwords in an institution like Evangel, many of which can become diluted through repetition. Spiritual emphasis. Christian worldview. Truth. Integration of faith, learning, and life. Every institution has phrases that look nice engraved on a building, but the impact of the concepts become far more evident beyond university. In my 17 years in the education field in the DC metro area, the core foundations from Evangel have become increasingly necessary.
Perhaps not in ways the world wants, but in ways the world needs. The foundations from Evangel have equipped me to navigate cultural currents that move against the grain of biblical truth and to always attempt excellent work. We are strategically placed in dark spaces so we can be the light and speak life and order into chaotic times. Heavenly Father has prepared good works for us to do. He already knows the place and times for us to shine.
What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?
Here are a few pieces of encouragement. First, I encourage students to be the light off campus. North Springfield has no shortage of opportunities to serve people.
Secondly, develop a growth mindset. Don’t limit yourself or our abundant Heavenly Father. You can learn and improve at anything he calls you to with smart goals and dedicated practice. Envision and pray for big things. Also ask for wisdom to carry them out. We don’t rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems and routines. Be strategic about how you pursue dreams. Although I’m grateful for career successes and for earning a master’s degree in painting, I have so much to learn and achieve educationally and artistically. Whether or not I realize it, my goals depend on the size of my prayers and adherence to a plan. This is a lesson I’ve learned from successes and many failures.
Lastly, live a spirit-filled life. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2 NIV). “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8). This is true today. So is the creative anointing on artists as described in Exodus. Earnestly desire closeness with the Spirit and to receive gifts to bless people. Working my first job as a middle school art teacher, Father began a conversation with me as I watched all of the sick, disabled, and injured students walk by my classroom. Am I supposed to just stand back and watch? Are Christians really powerless? The conversation grew over time with experiences working with compassionate ministries, international trips, and an increasing interest and pursuit of praying for people for healing. About 5 years ago, Father prompted me to make a more clear-cut surrender to him after several stressful years in administration and relying on my own strength to preserve my life. Not effective. But after the renewed surrender, he pushed me to take so-called risks to bless people in everyday situations, including in the office and classroom. I’ve seen many people healed, including many students in my high school. It’s way too fun winning for Jesus what he paid for in-full. Honor the conversation he is having with you about pursuing the Spirit and asking for the good works and awesome gifts he’s designed specifically for you.