Kingsport native Nathan Hall walks across the stage during Friday night's Milligan College graduation. (Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press)
MILLIGAN COLLEGE — Even though two Milligan College graduates spent different amounts of time at the school, both would agree their higher education experience can be summed up in one word –– community.
Kingsport native Nathan Hall, who graduated during Friday’s 7 p.m. ceremony in the Mary B. Martin Auditorium of Seeger Memorial Chapel with a degree in worship leadership, said he enjoyed his time at Milligan because of the community feel and group activities offered to students, such as the Sunday night vespers in Seeger Chapel.
“It’s all student led. There’s not like chapel credit you get for it,” Hall said. “It’s a ‘come as you are’ type of thing. It’s really cool because it brings the whole community together in a really cool way, just to worship with your peers, have fun with your peers. There’s so many nights I’ve been down here and conversations have happened and all of those different things. That’s probably one of my favorite parts about Milligan.”
Having already secured a job as a worship minister at Crossroads Christian Church in Gray, he said he feels his time at Milligan has prepared him for his career in ministry.
Hall said during his time at the school he was involved and able to get a hands-on education and valuable experience by leading chapel, through various informal internships, leading special events and leading a worship conference.
“Those opportunities helped me get a foot in the door ... just connecting with people who know my heart and knew my talent,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I’m so appreciative of this place. Here at Milligan, you’re not just a number, you’re not a statistic, you’re a name. You are a person who has value to add to this college. I found out that when I got here that this was the place where I needed to be. One of the main reasons for that is because of servant leadership. That’s what Milligan’s about. The idea of whatever you do can be a service towards your ministry, towards representing Christ, I think that’s the main reason I chose Milligan. That’s what I love about it.”
Jehangir Rizvi, originally from Pakistan and born to Indian parents, came to America in the early 1970s, and grew up in New York City.
From New York, Rizvi said he moved to Indianapolis and then moved to Jonesborough in 2001.
Currently a strategic partner manager for AT&T, he said he moved to Northeast Tennessee initially to help open the call center in Johnson City, and he and his wife have been here ever since.
When shopping around for a local Master of Business Administration program, Rizvi said Milligan was a perfect fit.
“Milligan really was the college that I felt really attracted to because the program actually gave me the liberty to be able to have a real campus feel,” he said. “I wanted to have those interactions because then it’s easier to relate to other folks that also have a college experience.
He said because a lot of his work requires regular international travel, he could go to places like the Philippines and be able to do his work for his M.B.A. online.
On Sept. 11 of this year, Rizvi said his father passed away and he rushed back to Indianapolis for his funeral.
“Fortunately, due to the Internet experience, I was still able to maintain my coursework and not have to drop the class, which would have delayed my graduation,” he said.
Attending classes on campus every month was a special experience for him, though, because he said it really made him feel part of the college community.
“Coming on campus every month, seeing everybody, meeting the team, the professors, that really, to me, kind of created that atmosphere that I wanted,” Rizvi said.
Milligan awarded 101 degrees Friday –– five Bachelor of Arts, 39 Bachelor of Science, 19 Master of Business Administration, nine Master of Education and 29 Master of Science in Occupational Therapy.
Dr. Gene Wigginton, retired president of Standard Publishing in Cincinnati, was the graduation speaker.