Meet Dr. Brian Bantum: First Generation College Graduate


– [Dr. Bantum] Oh superpower! Definitely I would fly. So I wanna fly because I
love the idea of being free. Teleportation was brought
up which seems kinda cool but there’s no sense
of that journey, right? You’re just there all of a sudden. What’s the fun of that? My name’s Dr. Brian Bantum and I am first generation
college graduate. When I was 16 I got a really
clear call to ministry but I wasn’t sure what that looked like. The only people that I
knew that were in ministry were senior pastors but
I wasn’t really sure that that’s what I felt called to. I was really afraid of potlucks and social gatherings [laughs]. I was like I can do the preaching thing but I don’t know about all those potlucks, so maybe there’s something
else for me God, please? My pastor had told me well
you should study something that’s not theology, and I loved history, and I loved learning about
African American history, and literature and movements, and slowly but surely I
started to have these questions about why was society the way it was? Why was there racism? My wife and I had met
while we were in college but we were long distance. So we got married that
summer, I transferred schools, and we did our first year of married life as seniors in college. For my mom it was really
the fulfillment of what she always knew was possible for me. I had to tell her like mom, they said you have to be quiet. It’s a service, it’s
not just a graduation, and so of course I come
across, Brian Bantum, she’s like, “I love you Brian!” Like oh, there’s my mom. I am the Associate Professor of Theology at Seattle Pacific University. College is like a
language in a lot of ways and unfortunately a lot of
us were never given access to that language. Whether it’s how you read a syllabus, or the kind of understated
expectations about what an assignment is or isn’t, or even just the fact
that you can actually go ask for help. Not knowing
something is actually why you’re here, to learn, and so professors want to see you and want to walk with you. And what I love about
first generation students, everyone realizes that
whatever it is that we do it has to matter for our lives, and these students know that
it matters for their life, and they bring a passion
for their community, and a passion for their questions, and they’re not afraid of
drawing all of those ideas into their learning, and I think they have so much to teach us about what it means to
really be a curious learner, and a student in the
truest sense of the word.

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