Evangel alumni perspective: Kameron and Danielle Nettleton
Name: Kameron and Danielle Nettleton
Graduation Year: I think technically 2015. Walked in the spring of 2016. | 2017
Major: English | English
Current Position: Middle School Teacher/Basketball Coach | Curriculum Developer/Editor
City and State: Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Tell us about your career and what you do now.
I work at Wesleyan Christian School in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, teaching middle school Bible and 6th grade English. I also coach all of the boys’ basketball teams at the school.
I work as a curriculum developer and editor for Essentials in Writing, a curriculum company geared toward students who struggle with grammar and literature. Many students are intimidated or confused by the rules of English and the various parts of literature, and we strive to create curricula that help students not only understand grammar and literature more easily but also helps them enjoy the learning process. As part of the curriculum development team, I help create the writing and literature curricula for students in grades 1-12, and I then edit each level and make sure each part of it corresponds to the accompanying video lessons before it goes to print. While we are not technically a Christian company, our founder, as well as the majority of employees and customers, are Christians, which often results in great discussions concerning the literature we use in our curricula and how it glorifies God even without an explicit “Christian” label.
What is your favorite memory from Evangel?
This question doesn’t feel fair! I have so many memories of my time at EU that I think of fondly. I’m going to cheat and lump all of them into one category: people. The best thing about my Evangel experience was the people that I met. I met my wife, I met some of my closest friends, and I met professors and faculty who have continued to act as mentors and friends to me. When I open my phone and go through my contact list, the Evangel imprint is so evident. Many of the people I met in those 3.5 years will be valued friends for the rest of my life.
So many amazing things happened at Evangel that picking one favorite memory would be almost impossible, but I always enjoyed the final week of the semester, not only because I was excited for Christmas break or summer vacation but because I enjoyed the atmosphere on campus (especially on my floor) as everyone prepared to take their finals and travel home. The special events during this week, like DVD Bingo and various club parties, were always fun as well. There was always just an ineffable excitement in the air as we made the final push toward freedom.
How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?
The great part of being an English major is that the focus really is not on “job training.” My classes and professors did help me prepare for my role as teacher…but they also equally prepared me for a multitude of potential roles that I may or may not fill down the line. They helped cultivate a deep love of learning and thinking that makes me someone who is able to feel comfortable and competent in a variety of situations. I didn’t just learn things for one specific job or one specific field. I learned how to learn, how to approach life, how to find God’s Truth in places you might not expect. My calling is to serve God and be ready for whatever He puts in front of me next, and I was absolutely equipped for that during my time at EU.
I first learned of Essentials in Writing (which is based in Springfield, Missouri) through Evangel and, as a result, was able to work for EIW as an intern during my junior and senior years at Evangel before working as a full-time employee after I had graduated. While I had known since high school that I wanted to work in an area related to English and writing, I hadn’t given much thought to working with curriculum but soon found it to be an area where I could utilize both my strengths of writing and editing instead of just one or the other. Without Evangel, I never would have learned about Essentials in Writing and would not be working here today!
How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?
Life after graduation is hard. It really is. For the first time in your life, you probably don’t know “what’s next.” That is really terrifying at times, and certainly overwhelming. There was about an 18-month period between finishing school and starting the job I am working at now, and that was not easy. I think the biggest way EU prepared me for this time was by surrounding me with people who believed in me and supported me, even when I wasn’t so sure I believed in myself. I don’t know if I would have survived that time without the support system in place.
Attending Evangel provided me with a well-rounded four years of higher education that not only prepared me for life after college via my classes but also through the extracurriculars in which I participated. At various points in time, I was a member of student council, devotional leader, senator, and editor-in-chief of Epiphany Magazine (the literary magazine published by the Humanities Department). My classes prepared me academically, and I thoroughly enjoyed them, but being able to participate as a member of these student organizations also helped prepare me for life after college in other ways beyond the classroom, especially in regards to other people.
What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?
I think it’s really important to not put yourself into a box. Apply to jobs that you didn’t necessarily see yourself in. What you’re really doing when hunting for jobs is finding ways to sell yourself. Don’t sell yourself short! I didn’t expect to become a teacher, but when that opportunity was presented to me, I was able to visualize how I could be successful in the role. Keep an open mind and be aware that sometimes God moves in ways you don’t expect. God won’t all of a sudden forget about you once you graduate, but you need to be active and engaged in the process of finding out what His next steps are for you.
Work hard in your classes and learn for the sake of learning (not just getting good grades), but also keep in mind that employers are interested in more about you than just your GPA. Your GPA can be a signal of your work ethic and self-discipline, but you also want to communicate to prospective employers that you’ll be an asset to the company in other ways beyond academics. A good way to do this is to show interest in the world beyond what is immediately necessary for graduation, such as volunteering or campus clubs. A resume that shows a student who was able to maintain a high GPA while participating in several extracurriculars or other activities proves to an employer that the student would be able to manage multiple and varied aspects of an employment position. That student will also be more impressive than the student with a 4.0 who did nothing outside of classes.
What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?
I think the thing I would look at first is how well-rounded a candidate’s experiences were. EU provides you with a plethora of opportunities, and I know that I was able to take part in several jobs and organizations that didn’t necessarily fit the “English major” mold. But each of those experiences helped make me a better person. Plus, I think a diverse background of experiences shows employers that you are someone who isn’t afraid to try new things. Take a class that you don’t really have to take, just because you’re interested in the subject material. Participate in events on campus that have nothing to do with your academic field. Just make sure you’re using your time there to become the best version of yourself, not just someone with a degree.
I would definitely be looking for students who displayed a combination of dedication in their classes as well as a consistent interest in areas or activities outside the classroom. Students can easily lean too far in either direction, showing too much devotion to either academics or extracurricular activities, but I would be looking for students who were able to balance all areas of their collegiate life with equal strength and devotion and excelled in all areas as a result. Employers look for candidates who stand out from the majority!