Blessed. That’s how Asa Swan, a 1999 alumnus, describes his years at Huntington. Serving as student-body president for two years, acting in five college plays, and graduating magna cum laude top his list of accomplishments.
But Asa’s years at Huntington weren’t just about a young man taking life by storm. God had a plan for Asa, and Asa’s college years had much more to do with an inner change than building a power-packed résumé.
As a transfer student, Asa was looking for a school with a stronger emphasis on Christian life.
"I didn’t even want to look at Huntington, but an overnight campus visit changed my mind," he explains. "I was so impressed with the fact that the guys in my suite didn’t curse or talk about getting drunk or having sex. Instead, they asked, ‘How is your relationship with Jesus?’ I was floored. By morning, I had completely changed my mind about Huntington."
A chapel service one month into Asa’s Huntington experience confirmed that he had made the right choice. "The Holy Spirit touched me in a way that I don’t think I’d ever experienced before." In that moment, Asa realized that God loved him and wanted an intimate relationship with him. "That’s why he brought me to Huntington," he said. "I’m a preacher’s kid, and I always had a relationship with God, but that was the moment I knew God was real and that he was calling me."
This spiritual awakening opened the door for God to lead Asa in a new way. "Before I came to Huntington, I knew what I wanted to do with my life, and I wanted God to come with me," Asa said. Instead, he learned that "God walks ahead of me, and I walk in His footsteps and follow Him."
That path led Asa to graduate school at Western Kentucky University, where he studied history, especially the role of tobacco in Kentucky politics, which became the topic of his master’s thesis.
Asa then served as a legislative assistant to Kentucky Republican Congressman Ron Lewis, researching the issues of foreign policy and abortion, keeping the representative up to date on any bill that comes up for a vote in these areas. He admits it’s pretty challenging to be a Christian in Washington, which he describes as a city full of "self importance and ambition." But Asa’s years at Huntington helped him rise to the challenge.
For Asa, knowing how to write a well-thought-out argument was key. He especially appreciates Dr. William Hasker’s ethics class. "After 40 years of being in philosophy, Dr. Hasker still has a deep and vital relationship with Jesus," Asa said. "His course really challenged a lot of my personal views and perspectives."
In addition, Asa cites Dr. Dwight Brautigam’s American Constitutional History class as especially helpful. "We studied the principles that our nation was founded on," principles Asa relies on daily in his life in Washington.
The relationships Asa formed with these professors was just as key as what he learned from them in the classroom. "They mentored me. They lived transparent lives," he said. Asa still remembers the day Brautigam opened class by "asking us to pray for him because he was having a rough day." As role models, these professors-as well as Dr. Paul Michelson and Dr. Linda Urschel-helped him to see that you can be an intellectual and a Christian.
Asa is also thankful for the off-campus learning opportunities he experienced during his Huntington years. He worked for Elizabeth Dole’s presidential campaign, focusing on the straw pole in Des Moines, Iowa, his first hands-on experience with politics.
Through these experiences at Huntington, Asa’s worldview "expanded hugely," he said. "Huntington helped me form that Christian perspective on the world that is so key. I now have a deep desire to see things the way God sees them."
Asa’s advice to future Huntington students interested in government and politics?
"If you’re interested in politics and Huntington, do it," he said. "The professors at Huntington have such wisdom about life and all the issues that you face as a public servant. You will leave with a foundation that is solid. Without that, you won’t last."
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