“Whatever your dream is, whatever your desire is, pursue that.”
Huntington University business graduate Brandon Schall remembers those inspirational words springing from the pages of the book, "Winning Every Day," by legendary football coach Lou Holtz.
While still in high school, Brandon was challenged by Coach Holtz's book to seriously consider his life's direction.
“After I read that book, I started thinking, ‘What is it that I really enjoy doing?” Brandon reflects. “I realized that I really wanted to get into the business side of sports and see what it was like to interact with sports franchises around the country.”
Brandon’s dream brought him to Huntington University, where he pursued a degree in business. At Huntington, he began turning his dream into a reality.
One of Brandon’s business professors, Dr. Ann McPherren, introduced him to American Specialty, an organization that offers insurance and risk management services for the sports and entertainment industry. Brandon and one other student worked on a project that measured the regional economic impact of the Roanoke, Ind., company. The research project opened doors to a summer internship with American Specialty.
But Brandon did not begin as a rookie intern. He had already completed a previous internship with a minor league baseball team. That experience not only shaped the way he viewed his summer with American Specialty, it dramatically altered how he saw his future.
“Internships give you the opportunity to experience a job that you think you may enjoy without being committed to it,” Brandon explains. “I had always thought I wanted to work for a professional sports team. I envisioned working in the front office of a Major League Baseball team some day. Once I was done with my first internship, I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my future. I’m not sure I would have seen that as clearly if it weren’t for that internship.”
Brandon’s summer at American Specialty proved to be entirely different and an invaluable experience. Upon graduation in 2002, Brandon pursued full-time employment with the company.
“Brandon came highly recommended by Professor Jim O’Donnell,” said Pete Eshelman, president and CEO of American Specialty. “We didn’t have a position for Brandon, yet I knew he was a home run. I liked Brandon’s tenacity to follow up with me. He had excellent people, communication and writing skills, as well as a great education. Brandon had clarity on what he wanted to do.”
Brandon’s persistence paid off. He spent three years as Assistant Vice President of Client Services to American Specialties' Sports and Entertainment clients. The bulk of his responsibilities involved overseeing a league-wide insurance program for all 30 Major League Baseball Clubs and the Office of the Commissioner. In addition, he worked with a host of other clients in the company's Minor League Baseball, Entertainment, and Motor Sports divisions.
Brandon appreciates all the lessons learned at Huntington University. “The concentrated effort of the faculty to bring Christian principles into the classroom is invaluable,” Brandon says. “Once you get out of the classroom, this gives you a good basis for approaching the business world with a Christ-centered worldview.”
He is also grateful for the many opportunities he had to gain field experience through internships. “Ten years from now I won’t be able to take six months off of my job and say, ‘I think I’m going to go try working for a pro sports team and see where that takes me,” he said. “While you’re at college, you have that freedom to explore those things that interest you and figure out what you do or don’t want to do later in life.”
And those dreams eventually led Brandon down a new path: full-time ministry.
In February 2006, Brandon took a position on staff at Emmanuel Community Church in Fort Wayne, Ind., and serves as the assimilation pastor, overseeing a variety of areas.
"The goal of my new job is to assist new people in the church as they move from first time visitors, to active participants, to members," he said.
In addition, he is responsible for many of the church's adult ministries, including small groups and small churches. He also oversees all-church fellowship events throughout the year.
Brandon says Huntington University provided the keys to unlocking his dreams – a solid, values-based academic program, professors that took an individual interest in his goals and opportunities to gain hands-on experience in his chosen field.
Brandon encourages other college-bound students to have faith in their dreams. “Whatever your dream is, pursue that. Whatever your passion is, pursue that. Somebody has to do that job and there’s nobody here to say that it can’t be you.”
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