by Callie Chaney, Student Contributor
Professor Rachel Childers is the embodiment of Alice Lloyd College’s mission: “Producing leaders for Appalachia who possess high moral and ethical values, an attitude of self-reliance, and a sense of service to others.” Although Mrs. Childers is now facilitating the mission of ALC, she once sat in the same seat of her students. Mrs. Childers graduated from Alice Lloyd College in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and minor in Accounting. She has now returned to serve as a colleague to the same professors who once taught her the principles of business.
Mrs. Childers’ affiliation with Alice Lloyd College began a decade before she held the title of Professor. As a high school senior, after weighing out her options, she chose to attend the school that offered her the greatest financial benefit: Alice Lloyd College. She elected to dorm with her sister, Amanda, who was a senior at ALC. She described the situation as comical, given that their family home was only a 20-minute drive away. Nevertheless, their family supported their decision to be involved in campus activities and knew that dorm life would make it easier.
Thankful for the opportunity to be involved, Mrs. Childers took full advantage. She served as Vice-President of Phi Beta Lambda, Student Supervisor of the Campus Radio Station WWJD, an Accounting Tutor and Supervisor of the Business Resource Center, Vice-President of student government, Homecoming Princess & Queen, Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival representative, and a member of Baptist Campus Ministries. Mrs. Childers was also an avid volunteer. One of her favorite memories is from her service with Habitat for Humanity during a women’s build in Pikeville, Kentucky. “I still look for openings in conversations to mention that I once roofed a house!” she says.
Another accomplishment of Mrs. Childers’ was receiving the Caney Scholarship, a graduate assistance program offered by Alice Lloyd College. Mrs. Childers resided in the Caney Cottage as she pursued a Master’s in Business Administration at Eastern Kentucky University. She continued to live and work in Lexington, Kentucky, and was soon engaged to her husband, Brock Childers. He was living in Leburn, Kentucky, at the time – a 20-minute commute from ALC. As they began to make their decisions about where they would live after marriage, Mrs. Childers was offered the job at Alice Lloyd College. Mrs. Childers now recalls, “We were married on August 2, 2014. We left immediately for a one-week honeymoon and I started a new job at Alice Lloyd College the day after we returned.”
Six years later, Mrs. Childers now holds the positions of Director of Appalachian Leadership and Professor of Entrepreneurship. “At a time when many Appalachians have struggled to find work, I am thankful that Alice Lloyd College has given me the opportunity to live and work in my hometown,” she says. “A unique characteristic of my position is that through the pursuit of economic development, I am striving to help others have the opportunity to live and work in their hometowns as well. I find that concept deeply rewarding.”
The entrepreneurship program was introduced in 2013. “[The minor was] a direct response to the declining economy of eastern Kentucky,” she says. The minor has had a diverse appeal among the student body. Students from a variety of departments have proposed creative solutions to repair the economy of Appalachia. Some have proposed regional non-profit ventures, whereas some have chosen to take over a small family business. The coursework revolves around five classes, several of which are taught by Mrs. Childers: New Venture Creation, Entrepreneurial Law, Entrepreneurial Finance, Corporate Entrepreneurship, and Business Plan Development.
In addition to teaching entrepreneurship courses, there is another way in which Mrs. Childers strives to assist in regional development. As the Director of Appalachian Leadership, Mrs. Childers works with honor students at Alice Lloyd College and facilitates a number of initiatives and events designed to enhance leadership skills. One program in particular is the Mike Duncan Mentoring Program that pairs a freshman student with a faculty or staff member on campus. “Most participants often comment that they enjoyed getting to know the person that they were paired with and some even choose to continue the mentoring relationship after the first year,” she said. “Others have chosen to participate a second year and be paired with a new individual in order to build a new relationship.”
On top of all of her other commitments, one of Mrs. Childers’ most important roles is being a mother. She and Brock have a one-year old daughter, Annabelle. She describes succeeding in both a career and parenthood as a balancing act. “It’s never easy saying good-bye to my daughter in the morning,” she says, “but I know that I am setting a good example for my daughter, and it’s rewarding to spend each day helping students pursue their passions.”
The Purpose Road has come full circle for Mrs. Childers. Once learning that By inexorable law, What we expect tends to come to us, she is now in the position to teach students the importance of developing A Purpose, A Goal, and A Vision.