JACKSON, Tenn. – May 23, 2002 – Gratitude is the theme of Tammi Gauldin’s story. As the Dyersburg, Tenn. native stands prepared for her next step, she looks back and sees how God was behind her all the way getting her to Union University.
“I came to Union totally on a whim,” reflected Gauldin, just days away from graduating. “Only now do I see how much God had intended for me.” A star basketball player for the Lady Bulldogs all four years of her college experience, Gauldin graduated during the May commencement exercises with a double major in political science and social work.
After finishing high school and knowing that she could receive an athletic scholarship opportunity at most prestigious schools, at least within the world’s view, Gauldin admits she only considered a visit to Union to satisfy pressure from a friend who urged her to take a look at the school.
“At the time, I was a really young Christian, and I really didn’t have any idea of how important it was to seek spiritual growth,” said Gauldin. “God did.”
Within a week of her visit to the Baptist university, Gauldin knew this was where she would be. It wasn’t the school’s aesthetics that attracted her—the birds in the hallway, the new campus plan, or even the curriculum. What grabbed her was the biblical environment – the difference of a Christ-centered atmosphere that she could sense immediately.
For Gauldin, that was a huge transition.
“I can still remember sitting in that first chapel service with Todd Brady (minister to the university) and when it was over and our parents left, there I was ready to immerge into a totally different culture,” recalled Gauldin. She had never been surrounded by a Christian community—a community preparing to shape her worldview and thinking from God’s perspective.
“Union, for me, was like a tunnel,” said Gauldin. “I never felt like I was in what so many refer to as the Union bubble—like I was locked in. It was more like a tunnel, in which I was surrounded, supported, encouraged. An ongoing tunnel which was bringing me to the light and a great future.”
Gauldin credits many people who have been her major influences during her time at Union. People at all levels and roles in the university, from her roommates to the housekeeping staff, she says have been mentors for her.
“From Stephanie Lee (director of student leadership), I have grown and been equipped to serve God. She was a tremendous mentor to me. Dr. Livingstone (political science professor) taught me to think, Dr. Dockery (university president) taught me to appreciate authority. The ladies at Union Station taught me to love, Jane Betts (academic registrar) taught me grace, the Social Work department taught me social economics and justice. My friends taught acceptance and encouragement.
“Even standing in the hall and talking with the cleaning staff has brought so much into my life. I don’t think I can find words enough to express fully the effect of Union University on me,” said Gauldin.
She credits sports and the discipline it taught as another one of the big life lessons she’s learned. Never viewing the extra time that sports took as detracting from her studies or weakening her resolve in academics, Gauldin instead saw how the discipline that being an athlete demanded helped her to learn to rise to the level of response needed. Having learned this will help her in the future when she attends the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where she has been accepted to law school.
Gauldin sees that her emphasis in life is people. Her desire is to strive in every way possible to help others see the importance of their humanity. “I’m about equality and justice for all people, whether that be as a lawyer, an advocate, or to my family, even as a mother one day.”
She feels prepared for this from her experience at Union.
“Union is like a carefully constructed community, a supporting body with a consistent message,” said Gauldin, which is “glorify God in all you do.
“Union is unity; Union is not uniformity. We are not all rolling out of here as the same model. Instead, we are allowed to be shaped into the individual Christians that we truly are in Christ.”
By Beverly Vos,
('02), Assistant Director of University Relations
Sara B. Horn,