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Ron and Monique Harris receive Evangel’s Alumni Association President’s Award

October 10, 2012 | Chase Replogle

Watch the Award Introduction

Ron Harris and Monique McDowell could not have known the big plans that God had in store for them when they met at Evangel University.   

They graduated in 1992, married, and have since each had success in ministry and professional roles. They have started a family and now work together in the not-for-profit organization they established.

A Level Up (ALU), located in Springdale, Arkansas, provides leadership tools that facilitate change and motivate youth, as well as adults, to impact the world in a positive way.

During the school year, they offer student development programs through school assemblies and one-on-one mentoring and tutoring programs. Working through a Springdale school district, ALU also offers Camp Impact, a summer leadership program designed to develop personal growth through athletics, academics and art.

Ron and Monique have continuously given of themselves to see their alma mater flourish. Ron served two terms with the alumni board, and together, they have brought scores of prospective students to campus. Many have enrolled as a result of their influence. They have also facilitated alumni activities in their area and have supported the ongoing mission of the university.

Because of their outstanding work benefiting the university — and because of their commitment, integrity and passion for Christ — the couple has been chosen to receive the 2012 Evangel University Alumni Association President’s Award.

The award will be presented at the Celebration Banquet, part of the university’s homecoming festivities, which takes place Saturday, October 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the University Plaza Convention Center.

Triumph from tragedy

Ron found vision and focus for his own life by attending Evangel. He had already experienced much hardship throughout his childhood. Tragedy continued to follow him into his college years. His mom, who had been a rock of support, passed away just before his junior year.

By the grace of God, and because of the support and encouragement of many new friends and faculty who invested in him, Ron finished school and has been able to use those negative experiences to fuel his fire for helping other young people in need.

“I would not be where I am today without Evangel’s well-rounded, practical hands-on training in the classroom; teachers who cared and took interest in molding and shaping my life; and coaches who mentored me as a man and invested in my life spiritually,” Harris says.

Upon graduating, Harris joined the athletic ministry team at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He was the men’s campus director for eight years and then went on to serve as national parent director with Children First America, a national organization that provides scholarships to low-income youth.

After seeing the needs of children and teens throughout the United States, Harris felt God calling him to serve the youth in his own Arkansas community.

“I became aware of the educational needs in the Hispanic and Marshallese populations in Springdale,” says Harris. “I learned of the huge learning challenges that existed, and I knew that I was supposed to help these kids in this community become successful.”

His efforts are not limited to the Springdale community. As the global director of disaster response at Worldwide Missionary Evangelism, he was involved in raising money and providing volunteers for Joplin’s episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. After the tornado, he facilitated more than 2,000 volunteers to help with disaster relief.

During Christmas 2011, more than 700 children in Joplin received Christmas gifts through A Level Up. Harris says he is continuing to partner with the schools in Joplin that were affected by the tornado.

Modeling integrity

Monique’s career and personal journey also has been marked by success and traveled with grace and strength.

She served in a global marketing position with Proctor and Gamble for eight years. Her team won numerous awards, and she was called upon to write a training manual.

Monique is very active in their church, having worked with children, youth and women’s ministries. She was instrumental in the development and implementation of the church’s ministry to college students from the University of Arkansas.

She now works alongside her husband with the ALU ministry. She works in the areas of accounting, graphics, program development, staff training and counseling, special event coordination, grant writing and compliance.

“My wife is a fully committed partner in our current efforts with ALU,” Ron says. “I can attest to her dedication to the Lord and her pursuit of excellence. She approaches her work with passion and professionalism. Her dedication as a wife, mother, employee, community servant and advocate for Evangel is unmatched.”

Ron and Monique have two children, Nadiyah, 11, and Jeremiah, 5.

Ron and Monique are an example of Colossians 3:22-25: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”