PGS Student Applies Leadership Skills from Classroom to Workplace

11-20-2017


by Ellie Walburg (B.S. ’17)

To become the transformational leader he always knew he could be, Greg Weaver (A.S. ’16), director of food services at Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, just needed to find the right opportunity to thrive.

Earning his associate degree through Cornerstone University's Professional & Graduate Studies division provided Weaver with the experience and knowledge to develop his own leadership potential to help others. In his current role, he seizes every opportunity to utilize what he's learned at Cornerstone to positively influence the lives of others. Whether he's teaching a wellness class or interacting with his staff, Weaver leads with passion and intention.

"One of the key concepts I learned about leadership at Cornerstone was transformational leadership," he said. "It's really about finding someone's potential and unleashing it, giving them the tools they need to succeed. And that's really what CU did. They taught me about the tools I need to be a transformational leader."

A Life Change

Being equipped to serve was something Weaver missed out on earlier in his life.

In high school, Weaver turned to drugs and alcohol. After being arrested and sentenced to time in prison, he wanted more for his life.

"I came to a point where this was my future," Weaver said. "There's no getting out of this. And that's where I came to know Christ. He showed me a better way. I didn't want anything else to do with drugs and alcohol. I wanted to serve Him."

With that decision, Weaver reoriented his life toward serving others.

"I had a heart for wanting to help people who had been where I had been—at the bottom," he said.

He got married and started a family. Yet in his drive to serve, he felt he was still missing something.

"There was still a gap between what I knew and what I wanted to know in order to be successful in my life," Weaver said. "When I had my child, that's when I realized I couldn't be a line cook for the rest of my life. I have to do something more."

Cornerstone University kept coming to his mind as his next opportunity. "It was because of the adult studies program that you can go there one night a week. That was something that was appealing to me because I'm married, I have kids and I work full time."

Patti Ticknor, Weaver's enrollment counselor, remembers the first time she met with him and his wife, Lindsey.

"He felt very convicted that God's calling on his life was to go into ministry," Ticknor said. "He just trusted that the money would be there. Greg never expected it to be easy, he just knew that God would be faithful and take care of their needs."

With support from his cohort, professors and staff at Cornerstone, Weaver earned his associate degree and changed his life in the process.

"Graduating was that concrete accomplishment that I could show the world that I'm ready for bigger things," Weaver said. "I'm ready to lead and do the thing that is my passion instead of just the thing that gets me by."

Staff and faculty at Cornerstone have noticed something different in Weaver's life as well. "As he worked hard and was successful in the classroom, he exhibited more and more of a 'can do' attitude," Sherin Austin, his academic adviser, said. "There was hope, excitement and anticipation at what the future would hold."

"It has been such a joy to see how God has transformed his life," Ticknor said.

The Opportunity for Leadership

Adult male chef talking with an adult female in a cafeteria

Equipped with skills, knowledge and experience through his degree, Weaver pursued a food service leadership position at Kalamazoo Gospel Mission in Kalamazoo, Mich. He heard of an open position in the kitchen, applied and got the job.

"When I came to Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, I was really able to put what I had learned into practice," he said. "Then when I applied for the director job, there was no doubt I had those abilities to fulfill that position. I had already displayed what I had learned through Cornerstone about being a transformational leader and leading people through crisis."

This approach to transformational leadership is something others have noticed in Weaver's life. "I have seen him model this idea in the way he works with people," Austin said. "He desires to help others become all that they can be. His life was transformed and he wants to have a part in making a difference in the lives of others as well."

Weaver isn't finished pursuing his personal and professional goals. In 2017, he began the Bachelor of Science in Ministry Leadership degree program to gain even greater experience and knowledge to serve others who faced the same struggles he did.

With a passion to empower others as he has been encouraged, Weaver is excited for how God can continue to use his transformational leadership experience.