Evangel alumni Mark and Brittney Grantham return to campus as staff members
October 3, 2013 | Ian Richardson
When you’re on Evangel’s campus, you might see her bantering with the admissions counselors and prospective students.
You might see him under the clock tower, with his loyal dog Samson, offering free snow cones to commuter students.
You might even see both of them together – probably smiling.
They are Mark and Brittney Grantham, two Evangel alumni who are now bringing their joy back to Evangel as staff members. Mark currently serves as Evangel’s Commuter Services director, and Brittney serves as the director of Adult and Graduate Studies Admissions, as well as interim director of Undergraduate Admissions.
The Granthams have experienced Evangel in a variety of ways during their lifetime: as students, as alumni and as staff members. And at each stage in their lives, they have valued the interaction and support that Evangel has provided them, especially in times of struggle.
Mark, a Springfield native, first came to Evangel as a student in 2000. Brittney, who is from Pennsylvania, arrived to study Advertising and Public Relations two years later. During their time as students, they occasionally met each other in passing but never seriously got to know each other until the spring of 2006.
“We went to the same church, same school – he’s a couple years older than me – but we never really crossed paths until my senior year,” Brittney says.
Mark served as a Royal Ranger’s commander and taught a Sunday school class at nearby Central Assembly of God in Springfield. In the spring of Brittney’s senior year, they first met at a mutual friend’s goodbye party, then ran into each other at a Super Bowl party and finally at church – on a Tuesday morning.
Two weeks before graduation, Mark finally asked Brittney on a date. She said yes, and within a few short weeks they realized God’s hand was on their relationship and fell in love.
Then, on June 9, 2006, an unexpected event rattled both of their lives.
A few days after traveling to Pennsylvania to get permission from Brittney’s parents to propose, Mark returned to Missouri to begin designing an engagement ring. That afternoon, he went on lifeguard duty for a children’s camp at his church.
Midway through his shift, Mark took a slide down an inflatable water slide. The slide collapsed, and Mark hit his head on the concrete. Forward movement took him into the pool.
Still conscious, Mark, along with the help of others, directed his own care. Paramedics soon came and flew him by helicopter to Cox Hospital, where he stayed for the next two weeks.
The accident left Mark a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down with limited hand and finger movement.
When Brittney, who had been staying at home in Pennsylvania during this time, came to visit, Mark says he wanted to make sure she wasn’t burdened by his accident.
“She popped into ICU, and I started in on my speech,” Mark says. “I said, ‘Brittney, you’re under no obligation.’ I kind of had this whole thing worked out.”
However, Mark says Brittney didn’t budge. “She interrupted me and said, ‘If you think this changes anything, you’re wrong,’”
After hearing this, Mark then secretly continued meeting with the ring designer and, on the eve of his being flown out to Craig Hospital in Colorado for three-month rehabilitation, he proposed.
Brittney said yes.
Even though neither was an Evangel student anymore, Brittney says the Evangel community wrapped itself around the two to provide them with support during the time of rehabilitation.
“Even after Mark’s accident, the support of the faculty, the staff and our friends was so wonderful and so uplifting,” she says. “They all just came around us and it was such a community. Just having that support was phenomenal.”
Mark and Brittney married in May 2008. Now, five years later, both are back at Evangel – this time as staff.
Coming full circle
“As a student, if you would have asked either one of us if we would be working here, neither one of us would’ve ever seen that,” Mark says. “But it was a natural fit, and a welcoming fit for us to become employees here.”
Mark joined Evangel’s Community Life staff in 2011 as director of Commuter Services, putting him in charge of meeting the needs of Evangel’s commuter students. Mark is also currently pursuing his Master of Organizational Leadership through Evangel’s Graduate Studies program.
Brittney says that after Mark was hired, he tried to convince her to come back to Evangel and work. Then the admissions director position opened up.
“I’d never considered being an admissions director, but I looked at what was involved in it and was attracted to it,” Brittney says.
She joined the Evangel staff last year as director of Adult and Graduate Studies admissions. This year she is also serving as interim director of Undergraduate Admissions.
“I’ve absolutely loved every minute of it,” she says. “I love getting up and going to work.”
Looking back on their time spent as Evangel students, Mark and Brittney advise students to take advantage of the opportunities they have to get involved. They say it is a place that not only provides education, but also provides experience, support and opportunities to make lifelong friends.
“Do not go to a place where you’re going to get a diploma that hangs on your wall,” Brittney says. “College is a fantastic time to explore, build relationships and grow as an individual, so go to a place that is going to support that development.”
“Any time you can go to a place where not only are you getting an education but strengthening your faith and your walk with Christ, that’s huge,” Mark says. “I don’t care what your experience is after Evangel, whether it’s something that’s as unique as what we’ve been through or what, those are tools that are extremely valuable.”