My Second and Third Colleges


Kelly Levatino reflects on search for the right college and the provision that God met her with in her desires, her academics, and her finances.

My first year in college left me heavily dissatisfied and searching for other colleges to attend.

Halfway through the semester, I told my parents I was still certain I wanted to transfer.  My church in Memphis was affiliated with a small school, Crichton College, that had a Bible degree.  I didn’t know much about it except that a handful of people I respected were either going there or had graduated from there.  And that was enough of an incentive for me to want to check it out.

But my parents weren’t very excited about the idea.  They didn’t want me to transfer to another small, liberal arts school, only to decide I didn’t like it, as was the case with Lambuth University (my first college).  They told me to pick a large state school, and be done with it.  I wasn’t thrilled, but because I was going to be living with my parents and still somewhat on their dime, I enrolled at the University of Memphis for my sophomore year.

My second college worked out better than my first.  For starters, my friend and I helped start a branch of Campus Crusade for Christ, so I got to be involved with some strong Christians right from the start.  Secondly, I was back at my home church and fully involved in the college group there.  It did my soul good to be in rich Christian fellowship again.

Academically, however, I was struggling at U of M.  They didn’t have a Bible degree.  They didn’t even have a Religious Studies degree.  So, in the name of getting a “useful” degree, I started on a business track.  And I hated it.  I was taking a bunch of brainless gen eds, of course, and the business courses were painfully boring.  I had zero interest in the corporate world.  By the end of sophomore year, I knew I had to make a change.  My sanity depended on it.

I started looking into Crichton College again, even though my parents were staunchly against a second transfer.  I had a full scholarship at U of M, but if I were to transfer to Crichton, I’d have to foot the hefty bill myself.  I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to do that, but I was desperate.

I applied to Crichton late in the summer of 2003.  It was a long shot given my applying so late in the game.  Admissions informed me the only way to get more than half of my tuition paid for was to participate in the honors program.  Extra classes, extra work, extra community service.

One week before classes started, the dean of the honors program called me for an interview.  As I entered his office, I noticed his college diploma on the wall.  Lambuth University.  Aye.

I took a deep breath, sat down, and told him my story.  He listened.  And God worked.  I left with a full scholarship.

The first week of school the admissions counselor I had been working with called me into her office.  When I got there, she began to tell me about her weekend.  “I was at church on Sunday, and every year before school starts, our small group prays for those of us who work in education.  I shared your story with my group, leaving out your name, of course, and afterward, a Fed Ex pilot asked me, ‘Does this girl have enough money for books?’  I told him I wasn’t sure, and he told me to give you this.”  The counselor handed me an envelope.  I opened it to find $200 in cash.

Who carries that kind of cash to church?

Who gives that kind of cash to a complete stranger?

What kind of God prompts His follower to do such an outrageous thing?

The kind of God of whom it is said, “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

The two and a half years I spent at Crichton College were unquestionably the most formative years of my walk with the Lord.  While I grew immensely in my knowledge of Him, I grew even more in my experience of Him.  I wasn’t just surviving, trying to earn a degree that would benefit me in the future.  Every day had purpose, drawing me closer to Him.

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