Alumni Spotlight: Ken Fiscus ('91)

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“Ken is the man!” That’s what the Pawnee Republican Newspaper said when Ken Fiscus (’91) showed up three years ago at the Pawnee City (NE) Library for a meeting with local organizers, urging them to prepare for the 2017 Solar Eclipse. Fiscus started making plans for the 2017 eclipse five years ago when he became aware that the Pawnee City area would be a prime viewing location.

Ken and his wife, Kelli (’86), traveled to Mazatlan, Mexico to view their first solar eclipse, immediately after Ken’s graduation from Nebraska Christian College in May of 1991. They traveled to Aruba for the 1998 solar eclipse. This past August, Ken brought a busload of 100 people from Minnesota to join approximately 4,000 others who convened in Pawnee City from all over the world at this prime location for experiencing of the 2017 eclipse.

In 2011, Ken and Kelli flew to Washington, D.C., where he was awarded the National Space Educator Award by the National Space Club (NSC), the country’s pre-eminent organization for fostering excellence in space exploration. Each year, the NSC brings together approximately 2,000 of the nation’s leaders in the fields of government, military, aeronautics, and education for their annual black-tie awards banquet. Ken didn’t know what to think of his award until he saw astronauts and national military leaders in attendance, to which he said, “It’s a big honor.”

The Space Educator Award recognizes the importance of secondary school teachers motivating and guiding high school students in the study of and careers in space science and technology. The award included a $1,500 prize, which Fiscus used to promote his Annual Solar System Walk, an event he created to help people understand true distances in space.

Ken has taught Earth and Space Science at Albert Lea Senior High School in Albert Lea, MN, for the past twenty-six years, but he says it feels like only five or six. He’s that passionate about his work! Ken is also very proud of the Albert Lea Build-a-bot Robotics High School team which he helped start.

In 2003 NASA started the Educator Astronaut Program and received approximately 2,000 applicants. Ken and Kelli dedicated themselves to filling out the 22-page application that had 61 pages of instructions! Fiscus was one of 35 finalists, but ultimately was not chosen to go into space.

Ken was born in Pawnee City to Larry and Linda Fiscus (both NCC Alumni). Ken lived in Table Rock for five years while his father pastored at the Church of Christ. Ken’s passion for space and Kelli’s support is evident in the naming of their children; their son Rigel is named after a star, and their daughter is Meridian.

Nebraska Christian College Unveils New Logo

Artist's concept of coming new NCC marquee

Having the approval and support of the Board on Trustees, the President of Nebraska Christian College, Dr. John L. Derry, unveiled an official new NCC logo to administration, staff and faculty. This change was implemented to help NCC communicate more clearly who they are and what they stand for, and to become more readily recognizable. This strategic identity plan projects the image of excellence and longevity.

The new institutional logo is designed to represent visually the connection between the Papillion campus and its parent, Hope International University, based in Fullerton, CA. The two institutions merged in 2016. The design incorporates elements of the HIU logo -- including the icon, typeface, and layout -- presenting a consistent visual image and perception to the internal community, external constituents, and the public at large.

The new logo has been integrated into the NCC website, and will replace the existing NC color-block logo on all campus signage, publications, and digital communications. A comprehensive rollout will be implemented over the coming months.

Worship Arts Chicago Trip

Worship Arts Chicago Trip

Worship Arts students recently returned from Chicago where they had the opportunity to visit Harvest Bible Chapel and Willow Creek Community Church. 12 students in the “Leading a Worship Band” class, along with their professor John Chilcote, traveled to Harvest and Willow to meet with worship leaders and observe worship services over the weekend of Sept 29-Oct 1. 

From NCC to WC

“I remember being a bit unsettled my senior year of high school,” begins David Schomer, a recent graduate of NCC’s Worship Arts department. “I came to a student’s Senior Worship Project (annual worship concerts put on by graduating seniors) and just knew this is what I needed to pursue. Who would have thought this road would lead to Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago?”

David recalls having periods in his life where he wasn’t following after Jesus but instead was forging his own path. “I have had my share of pain, heartache, disappointment, parents who didn’t stay together…yeah, I was a pretty normal, lost good kid!”

His youth pastor wouldn’t give up on him and gave him a place to serve – in the high school band at youth group.  This lit something in him to pursue a ministry degree and pursue something more at Nebraska Christian College. “My youth pastor invested a ton in to me; he culled ministry out of me,” recalls David.

“Yeah, the last four years have shown me that nobody gets where they are going by themselves. For me its been professors, worship leaders, and pastors allowing me to do internships, residency, learning and honing my gifts. When I step back and consider all of the people who have blessed me along the way, it’s a lot to digest and be thankful for,” says David.

David Schomer leads worship at the Student Leadership Summit in 2017.

David Schomer leads worship at the Student Leadership Summit in 2017.

David’s path echoes that of many recent NCC graduates.  He jumped right in his freshman year, serving where he could, attending sessions at The Institute with respected leaders from all over the country. He worked in Admissions and spent a ton of time off campus serving in local churches. 

One of the speakers he met at the Institute was an NCC alumna, Rachel Lang (’10).  She was presenting what her first year in ministry was like at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. Rachel and David’s paths would cross again four years later. She had already taken the road to Willow some years earlier.

David had several ministry leaders pursuing him to join their staffs. “Honestly, I read the paper about how college grads can’t get jobs in their chosen field,” says David, “and that’s just not been my experience.  In fact, I’d even say having so many options during your senior year is quite overwhelming! We kept praying and seeking wise counsel,” says David. “In the end, my wife and I decided that Willow Creek was the right fit.

Rachel Lang is glad they did.

“We had been looking for a worship leader in student ministries at the North Shore Campus for some time,” says Rachel. “I had been asking around for recommendations and was given David’s name.”  Rachel and her team flew David up a couple of times for interviews and auditions.  Eventually the decision was made – The Schomers were invited to become Creekers.

“I have a lot to learn and a ton to grow in,” says David, “but I look back and think of all of my pastors, professors, chapels, events, church services, and other serving opportunities. Nobody gets anywhere without a bunch of people helping them along the way. I will be paying this forward for the next generation. Who knows, maybe there’s some ninth grader that needs ministry called out of them just like it was called out of me.”

And maybe their road will lead from WC to NCC. 

Nebraska Christian College Unveils New Athletics Mascot & Logo

The SENTINELS to field four teams this Fall

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PAPILLION, NE :: As the culmination of a thorough and strategic process, the Nebraska Christian College (NCC) Department of Intercollegiate Athletics proudly unveils its new mascot and logos. After soliciting input from various constituents within the NCC community, SENTINELS was chosen from a wide-ranging list of suggestions.

Defined as a guardian or protector, SENTINELS represents the culture and ethos of NCC well. Synonyms include: lookout, sentry, defender, watchman, and gatekeeper.

New logos have been developed and adopted to represent NCC athletics teams and program, both on and off the field of play. The SENTINELS icon depicts the front view of a sentry’s helmet. The cross that prominently adorns the helmet represents NCC’s Christian roots, heritage, and belief system. It is identical to the cross element used in the institutional logo of Hope International University who merged with NCC in 2016. The shape of the opening in the face of the helmet depicts a person engaged in worship at the foot of the cross, arms raised in praise and adoration.

NCC recently announced the return of athletics beginning the Fall of 2017. NCC initially will offer four intercollegiate sports: women’s soccer, men’s soccer, women’s basketball, and men’s basketball. NCC is now a member of the NCCAA Division 1 Central Region with a future goal to also compete in the NAIA. This will be the first time in NCC history that the school will be offering athletic scholarships to student athletes.

NCC’s vision is to build a competitive athletic program while continuing to nourish the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical development of all students as they prepare for their respective vocation.

For more details about NCC Athletics, including scholarship information, please contact Willie Williams, Athletic Director: email willie.williams@nechristian.edu or call 303-947-1797.

Tony Brandt - 2017 Alumni Council Chair

Tony Brandt, Lead Pastor at Central Church of Christ in Griswold, Iowa and a 1986 Alum of Nebraska Christian College, is the new Chair of the NCC Alumni Council for 2017. Tony has been an active member of the council for 3 years under the past leadership of Jerry Beckenhauer. Tony said he accepted the position of Chair because “Jerry deserves a much needed break! But more importantly, because I want to be an active part of encouraging past and future generations of NCC Alumni.”

Tony has a long history with NCC.  Last year, while preaching at one of the college chapel services, he said, “I was that seven-year-old who moved to Norfolk, Nebraska for my first introduction to this school.  My dad (Carl Brandt) graduated from here in 1976, while my mom also attended classes at Nebraska Christian. They were the first generation of Brandts. Since that time, there have been nine more members of the Brandt family that sat in classes and chapel services at NCC. They include a second generation:  myself, two sisters, my brother, and a sister- in-law. The third generation of Brandts to attend NCC are my niece (Nicole), my nephew (Christian), and our two sons, Dillon and Brighton (the most recent).”

Tony and wife Monica have been in Griswold for 5 years where they are currently in the midst of a building project for their growing church and where Tony will be hosting the Iowa Rural and Small Church Conference on Saturday, March 11.          

As Nebraska Christian College moves forward in partnership with Hope International University, the Alumni Council has a major support role to fill. Among other projects occurring throughout the year, they are currently making plans for HOMECOMING for Alumni and Friends at NC on Saturday, June 17 (watch for more details). The Alumni Council encourages all alumni to get involved as we work together to help NC students, faculty, and staff fulfill their Kingdom Mission!

If you would like to get in touch with Tony, you can email him at tony@griswoldchurch.org.

For additional questions or comments regarding the alumni you can also contact Jane Jech at (641) 751-7591 or jane.jech@nechristian.edu.   

Athletics Returns to Nebraska Christian College

NC to field teams in four sports beginning Fall 2017 

PAPILLION, NE :: Nebraska Christian College (NC) proudly announces the return of athletics to our campus beginning the Fall of 2017. NC will offer four intercollegiate sports in the fall: women’s soccer, men’s soccer, women’s basketball, and men’s basketball. We are pursuing membership in the NCCAA Division 1- Central Region with a goal to also competing in the NAIA. This will be the first time in NC history that the school will be offering athletic scholarships to student athletes.

Late last year, NC hired Willie Williams (2006 alum) as Athletic Director, who also will serve as Head Coach of men’s basketball. Williams now begins the process of hiring head coaches and actively recruiting Christian student athletes.

NC’s vision is to build a competitive athletic program while continuing to nourish the spiritiual, intellectual, emotional, and physical development of all student athletes as they prepare for their respective vocation.

Interested coaching applicants or student athletes should contact the following for more information:

Willie Williams, MS, MA
Athletic Director
Head Men's Basketball Coach

Nebraska Christian College of Hope International University
12550 South 114th Street
Papillion, Nebraska 68046

Email: willie.williams@nechristian.edu
Mobile: 303.947.1797

Welcome Coach Willie Williams

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Coach Willie Williams began his coaching career at Papillion-La Vista South high school as a Varsity Assistant Coach under his former high school coach, Joel Hueser.  This coaching staff guided the team to a second seed in districts and numerous team and individual records.  Coach Williams was then named as the Head Men’s Basketball Coach of Grace University for Fall 2011 and led the team to a 19-13 record in his first full season, a Regional Championship, Regional Coach of the Year, and a spot in the National Tournament.  Coach Williams received three consecutive NCCAA Division II Central Region Coach of the Year honors and directed Grace to three consecutive NCCAA Division II Regional Championships and three consecutive NCCAA Division II National Tournaments (2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14). In his five full seasons at Grace, his conference record is 41-15 and his overall collegiate coaching record is 82.77. During this time he had numerous All-Americans and All-Region players along with a number of Scholar-Athletes.

Coach Williams began his collegiate career at Nebraska Christian College where he earned his Associate of Arts Degree in General Studies and played for the Parsons from 2004-2006.  At NCC, he earned first team All-Conference, second team All-Region, and team Most Valuable Player honors. Williams transferred to Grace University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Teacher Education-Secondary History and Coaching and graduated Summa Cum Laude.  He played for the Royals under Coach Thad Mott and served as team captain, received the Total Release Award, and helped lead the Royals to a Regional Championship and their first NCCAA Division II National Championship in 2008. 

Williams also has earned a Master of Science in Education-Curriculum and Instruction from Peru State College in 2011, and a Master of Arts in Human Performance and Physical Education from Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado, in 2013.

Williams started out as an Athletic Recruiter in which he brought in a record number of 82 new students in Fall of 2013. He also served as an athletic administrator in the role of Assistant Athletic Director at Grace University for three years.  He then was named the Interim Athletic Director in which he played an integral role in adding Women’s Soccer, Baseball, and two JV Programs to the Athletic Department as well as transitioning the Athletic Programs from NCCAA Division II to NCCAA Division I.  After serving for a year as the Interim Athletic Director, Coach Williams was named the Athletic Director where he added the Softball Program, developed the Royal Pride (athletic booster club), and oversaw the launch of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.

Williams life verse is Philippians 4:13 which says, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” Passion and work ethic are the keys to what Williams looks for in his staff and in his players.  He wants those that have a passion for Christ, a passion for academics, and a passion for athletics.  Proverbs 14:23 states, “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” He believes a disciplined work ethic is key to a Program’s success.

Coach Williams has been married to his beautiful high school sweetheart, Kendra, for over ten years.  They have three boys: Tre (7), Carter (4), and Drake (19m). As a Family they enjoy ‘movie night’, getting ice cream and cruising, and being in the gym.  They are part of the Calvary Christian Church family that worships at the MEC on Nebraska Christian College Campus.  

NCC Alumna Hired as Director of Church Relations & Development

Jane Jech, an alumna of Nebraska Christian College, has accepted the position of Director of Church Relations and Development.  Jech, who lives in Marshalltown, Iowa, will travel throughout the region on behalf of the institution, keeping alumni, donors, and churches up to date on developments at the Nebraska campus.

“Jane knows alumni, church staff, and community leaders all across the Midwest,” said Michael Mulryan, Vice President for Institutional Advancement for Hope International University.  “She embraces the mission of our campuses and is going to do a great job reaching out to our friends.”

Jech is enthusiastic about the opportunities presented by the recent merger of Hope International University and Nebraska Christian College. 

“I see our culture pulling young people away from the church,” she said.  “I am extremely excited for our students to receive a broader education with a Christian world view.”

Her life has been linked to NCC for many years.  Her father was a member of the Board of Trustees and three of her four siblings also attended.  Her husband also served as a NCC Trustee, and three of her four children are NCC alumni as well.

Jane and her husband, Kerry, have lived in Marshalltown for 38 years.  She has worked as a teacher, spent about 15 years as the Worship Arts Director of her church, and ran for the State Legislature. Most recently, she served on the staff for a presidential campaign, leading up to the 2016 Iowa caucuses.  Her volunteer work has included a social services non-profit organization and the public schools.

Kerry is the Senior Pastor of New Hope Christian Church in Marshalltown.  The Jechs have four children – Adam Jech, Jeremy Jech, Amanda Freiberg, and Jordan Jech – and eight grandchildren.  

NEBRASKA CHRISTIAN COLLEGE MERGES WITH HOPE INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY

FULLERTON, CA :: Hope International University (HIU) announces the finalization of its historic merger with Nebraska Christian College (NCC) in Papillion, Nebraska. In early 2015, HIU signed a memorandum of understanding with NCC in order to explore the possibility of a partnership between the two longstanding institutions of Christian higher education.  That exploration culminated in the milestone decision to merge.

The sister schools share an affiliation with the Christian Church’s Restoration Movement and have a rich combined heritage of more than 160 years. The merger builds on the strengths of both institutions, elevates their joint profile, and makes good business sense, as both campuses will increase their capacity more efficiently than two institutions could individually.

“We will integrate the best of both HIU and NCC, in pursuit of our shared mission to prepare those who will serve Christ in our churches and communities, and around the globe,” said HIU President, Dr. John L. Derry, who has long envisioned the benefits of similar institutions joining forces in order to multiply opportunities for future alumni. “Trends and changes in higher education make partnerships like this a wise move, because they offer long-term strategic and financial sustainability.”

The addition of the NCC campus in the Midwest region of the United States, located near Omaha, extends HIU’s reach beyond the western United States and broadens NCC’s academic programming. University administrators see a huge potential for growth and are eager to see the results over the next several years. They also believe alumni from both institutions will be pleased, as each campuses will maintain unique identities within the overall structure.

Additionally, this merger:

  • Gives regional accreditation to NCC’s academic programs
  • Expands the breadth of degrees offered in the Midwest region by adding HIU’s undergraduate, graduate, and online programs
  • Provides strategic and long-term financial sustainability
  • Preserves and honors the rich heritage of Nebraska Christian College
  • Strengthens the Christian higher education presence in both regions
  • Facilitates the best stewardship of Kingdom resources

“This decision reflects the type of innovative response that will enable Christian higher education to continue impacting the world for Christ," said Toby Yurek, Chair of the HIU Board of Trustees. "This is an amazing opportunity to partner together as we navigate the ever-changing landscape of higher education."

HIU has been a leader in online education for nearly 20 years, and administrators are certain this merger will open broad opportunities in the Midwest, especially for students who are attracted to the ministry focus of the Nebraska campus, but who feel called to serve in other capacities and professions. NCC has traditionally focused on pastoral ministry and has developed a stellar reputation in the Midwest for preparing pastors through its Institute for Church Leadership, which includes on-campus learning and church residency components.  HIU prepares globally-focused servant leaders, offering a broad range of academic programs via its five Colleges.

The campuses will utilize an integrated campus management system, share online learning and classroom technologies, and have access to extensive library resources and research databases.  Additionally, the unified institution will now share recent accolades and recognitions, including U.S. News and World Report’s Top 20 West Regional Colleges ranking and being named one of the 50 Best Christian Colleges in the U.S. by Christian Universities Online.

President Derry and other HIU senior staff members will work closely with Nebraska staff who will continue to manage daily academic, financial, advancement, student affairs and enrollment functions for the Omaha campus.  HIU’s Board of Trustees now includes two former members of the NC Board.

OVERVIEW OF THE TWO CAMPUSES

Nebraska Christian College was established in 1945 as an institution of Christian higher education that seeks to bring glory to God by calling people to know Christ, preparing disciples with skills for ministry, and sending them out to make Christ known. NCC’s Institute for Church Leadership was formed for the purpose of developing leaders and networking students with ministry practitioners.

Founded in 1928, Hope International University's mission is to empower students through Christian higher education to serve the Church and impact the world for Christ. HIU is regionally accredited and offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees, certificate programs, and credential programs to more than 2,000 students world-wide through its five colleges:  College of Arts & Sciences, College of Business & Management, College of Education, College of Psychology & Counseling, and Pacific Christian College of Ministry & Biblical Studies.  As a private Christian university, Hope is committed to the integration of faith, service and learning. This dedication is reflected in the University’s mission statement, core values and statement of belief, the guiding lights for every activity, class and relationship on campus.

KEY ADMINISTRATORS

John Derry, Ed.D., President
Paul Alexander, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs
Frank Scotti, Vice President for Business & Finance
Teresa Smith, Vice President for Enrollment Management
Michael Mulryan, Vice President for Institutional Advancement
Mark Comeaux, Ed.D., Vice President for Student Affairs
Tony Clark, Associate Vice President for Business & Operations, NCC Campus
Mark Krause, Ph.D., Academic Dean, NCC Campus