Huntington University is a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana

Advancing career and education:

Alumnus experiences post-graduation success
Tanner Babb on advantages of psychology degree program at Huntington University, a Christian college

“I was well prepared for the academic rigor of master’s and doctorate programs by my classes at Huntington University.”

Since graduating from Huntington University in 2004, Tanner Babb has not only advanced his career but also his education. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, he received a Master of Science degree in education at Indiana University of Fort Wayne. He then went on to complete his doctorate degree at the University of Toledo.

As a student in the counselor education and supervision track at UT, Tanner held an assistantship with the graduate department involving teaching, research and supervision. In addition to coursework, Tanner taught Group Counseling, Couples and Family Therapy, Orientation to Community Counseling, and Essentials of Helping Relationships.

He also has assisted with facilitating a practicum for the master’s degree program in counseling at UT and returned to Huntington to teach Marriage and the Family, Abnormal Psychology and Foundations of Marriage and Family. He was then hired full-time by HU in the fall of 2010 to teach psychology.

The time he spent working in his field of study has enhanced his teaching. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree, Tanner worked as a case manager, intern and therapist at the Otis R. Bowen Center, a community mental health center in Huntington, Ind.

And all of this before age 30.

Tanner credits Huntington University for providing a foundation that has led to post-graduation success.

“I was well prepared for the academic rigor of master’s and doctorate programs by my classes at Huntington University,” Tanner said. “For instance, I took a psychological testing course in my doctorate program, and I felt more prepared than many of my peers because I was familiar with the subject area.”

Tanner also gave credit to Dr. Wayne Priest, associate professor of psychology, who he said prepared him for research and paper writing at an advanced level. Priest’s meticulous attention to APA style paid large dividends in Tanner’s doctorate program.

While earning advanced degrees from secular institutions, Tanner has had the unique opportunity to compare his experience to Huntington.

“Huntington gave me the Christian foundation and liberal arts education that has prepared me to be a student in the world but not of the world,” he said.

Constant study and research do require Tanner to work at maintaining balance in his life. “I have the tendency to want to compartmentalize my life,” he said. “I have time I spend as a researcher every week, time I spend as a student and time I spend as I teach.”

With these priorities, there is a tendency to keep research confined to research time, student work to student time and teaching to teaching time, but Tanner has found that de-compartmentalization is the key. Incorporating what he is learning in his doctoral classes into the courses he teaches has been helpful not only to his students but to him.

“I learn from my students who have a fresh perspective,” said Tanner, “and I use those ideas to spark new areas of research.”

This idea of interweaving subjects of study is all part of the liberal arts education Tanner gained at Huntington. His coursework taught him how to research well and integrate his knowledge of history, philosophy and language into the context of his major coursework.

A smaller institution such as Huntington also promotes a sense of community, says Tanner. Activities such as chapel, small groups and extracurricular events encourage individuals to get know one another in a deeper way, leading to connection. Professors are also a significant part of this process.

“Every year, Dr. Steve Lee or Dr. Wayne Priest hosted a scheduling party,” said Tanner. “This provided a chance for students to meet graduates and alumni and receive feedback on their goals and classes and obtain feedback from professors on their choices. Larger institutions have all their scheduling online, and obtaining alumni feedback is almost unheard of.”

Tanner has continued to maintain his relationships with the professors who had profound effects on his life. Drs. Steve Lee, Mary Ruthi and Wayne Priest provided him with a model for the integration of faith and learning, and all have remained accessible and willing to answer questions for Tanner, providing support and encouragement when needed.

It was this type of personal connection with staff and faculty that drew Tanner to Huntington University.

“Scholarships were important, and friends at Huntington helped, but the personal connection with staff and faculty is what truly made the difference in me choosing Huntington over other schools.”

In addition, Huntington University provided off-campus learning experiences, a major selling point that Tanner counts as some of his most beneficial experience during his four years at Huntington. It was the extracurricular activities that allowed Tanner to truly hone his communication and management skills.

“I put feet to my faith,” said Tanner. “I learned what it was to serve others. I learned what putting others first truly means as a leader of a group of 25 students.”

Freshman year Tanner took a spring break trip to Ecuador where he taught English, ministered to communities and gained insight into the culture of those he worked among. It was during this trip that Tanner said he “learned how to work as a group to accomplish something greater.”

During his sophomore year Tanner founded the Huntington University chapter of Habitat for Humanity and became the first administrative coordinator, leading a trip to Tallahassee, Fla., with 10 other Huntington students. The week was spent siding and painting a house in addition to working with a high school group.

“It was a great learning experience for the students that went and for me,” said Tanner. “It taught us how much college has changed us as people.”

His sophomore summer Tanner went on a May-Term trip to England with Dr. Dwight Brautigam. This trip provided Tanner with an opportunity to supplement his classroom education about history with an experiential education. The trip helped him feel more connected to history and more reflective as a person.

Junior year, Tanner and a group of 25 students returned to Florida for Habitat for Humanity, this time to Jacksonville. Once again, the work involved siding and painting several houses in the area. This trip gave Tanner an inside look at how a well-run ministry works.

“I learned more about leadership and communication that year than the previous years because my group was split up into several groups and sent to different houses to work.”

An additional trip to Jacksonville during his senior year taught Tanner more about poverty as the trip allowed participants to become connected with some of the homeowners, learning about their situations and lives.

The summer after graduation, Tanner and his wife, Julie (Magrum '02), teamed up to lead a Habitat for Humanity trip to Morgantown, W.Va., where the team worked on the framing, electrical work, roofing and clean-up on two different houses — a project requiring management techniques and problem-solving skills.

Summarizing his time at Huntington University, Tanner commented that students seem connected with each other, a feeling that is fostered by the Christian community.

“At Huntington, students know their professors, and their professors know them by more than just name,” he said. “Students at a major university are lucky if their professors remember them after class.”

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