Alumni Spotlight: Rhett Hayes, Class of 2013

Rhett Hayes is a member of Collin County’s first graduating class. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Texas at Dallas, and currently serves on staff in the FOCUS (Fellowship of Christian University Students) campus ministry at UTD.
How did CDA help form your worldview?
The saying “character is caught, not taught” rings true. As I think back on my time at CDA, I value the teachings from our theology and apologetics classes, but I also value the experience of being around a group of teachers who followed Jesus. There is something special about having a science teacher who pauses in class to talk about emulating God’s character or having a history teacher who invites your family over for dinner and encourages them in their walk with God. I was kind of a nightmare in the classroom (sorry, past teachers!), but I learned about the importance of truthfulness, respect, and sensitivity from the ways the teachers and administration responded to my behavior.

My senior year, one of the last papers I wrote in my apologetics class was a statement of personal belief called a credo. Being pushed as a high school student to spend hours coming to terms with what I believed about truth and ethics was both challenging and enriching.

How have you impacted culture around you for the glory of God?
I have been involved in campus ministry through an organization called Fellowship of Christian University Students (FOCUS) for five years now--three years as a student and two years as a full-time campus missionary.

Most people at the University of Texas at Dallas (where I do ministry) are not even aware that I exist. That being said, I believe God has transformed me into someone who can faithfully point a handful of students to Jesus each year.

I remember the pastor of my church reflecting on the state of our culture. In response to this reflection, he said: “You know what I’m going to do about it? I’m going to sit here with a bunch of young campus ministers and try to teach them everything I know. I’m going to meet up with a fourteen-year-old high school freshman later today and study the Bible with him.”

I may never impact culture on a stage larger than the few hundred college students who I occasionally get to speak in front of, but each student I disciple is a student who will go on to meet and influence scores of other people in all sorts of ways. Right now, I am mentoring a student leader who has a following of tens of thousands of people in the electronic music scene. He is much more talented and “known” than I am, but I have the privilege of discipling him, which is so cool to me!

What advice from your CDA experience would you give to help future CDA graduates?
As you enter college, I think it is tempting to view your high school experience in absolute terms. I have watched students leave CDA who are convinced that they have already seen theology, community, and learning done exactly right, and I have also seen students leave who think there is not much from their time at CDA that is worth holding on to.

Both of these approaches are arrogant. I promise you, God taught you a lot through your time at CDA, and you are going to want to hold on to that. Remember, though, that your time in high school was only a starting point.

Be open to changing quite a bit as a person, but make sure it is God and His people who are changing you, and not the voices of your own insecurities!
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