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FOUNDERS SCHOLARS: Two teens from Iowa take remarkably different paths to Evangel

Published on Mar 11, 2016 by Paul K. Logsdon


Evangel graduates Chad and Holly Towers of Urbandale, Iowa, are “ecstatic” that their son Payton has earned the premium merit scholarship offered by EU. // PHOTO BY Paul K. Logsdon


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Drew Hendrickson and Payton Towers have known each other for as long as they can remember, literally going all the way back to their church nursery in Urbandale, Iowa.

Drew was born in Hartford, Conn., and Payton was born in Springfield, Mo. Their families moved to the suburbs of Des Moines and started attending the same church, on the very same Sunday in June of 1999.

Despite the fact that their paths crossed on a weekly basis, the boys didn’t start moving in the same direction on the road to Evangel University until just a few months ago.

“We had such different interests, went to different high schools, and had different career paths, but here we are — ending up at the same college with the same Founders Scholarship,” remarked Payton.

2016-03-A Recording Studio
High school senior Drew Hendrickson (seated) receives an overview of Evangel University’s recording studio opportunities from Vincent Nolden, a senior music industry major. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) // PHOTO BY: Paul K. Logsdon

Drew grew up with a passion for music and a desire to make it his life. He sings and plays piano, guitar, French horn, trumpet, bass and drums.

“I will be a music technology major at Evangel,” he said. “After visiting for the Founders Scholars weekend and spending time in the recording studio, I’ve been thinking of all of the possibilities of what I can do — all of the cool music that I can make in there.”

Meanwhile Payton grew up with a passion for sports, excelling at wrestling and football. He’s been active in Junior ROTC and has been laser-focused on a career in the U.S. Marine Corps.

There are a few traits that the boys share, however, including a passionate faith and a sensitivity toward serving others. They have both remained active in their church, New Hope Assembly, and each has taken on significant leadership responsibilities there.

Converging paths

In the end, it was their sensitivity toward serving others that turned their paths toward Springfield — helped along, perhaps, by the fact that both sets of parents are alumni of Evangel.

“We wanted it to be his choice,” said Payton’s father, Chad Towers. “But we vacationed in the Ozarks every year, and we strongly encouraged him to explore Evangel.”

Payton laughed, “Mom and dad weren’t overly pushy, but they did make me aware that it was an awesome college.”

So what was his turning point? “Last summer, I felt that God was calling me in a different direction,” said Payton, who struggled with the decision before developing a true excitement for his future. “Now, instead of going to Iowa State and preparing to serve in the Marines, I will be going to Evangel and preparing to serve as a youth pastor.

Drew’s parents had similar good feelings toward their alma mater.

“My wife and I were both music majors at Evangel,” said Brett Hendrickson. “Knowing Drew’s interest in music, we made sure we kept up with the department’s progress and new programs.”

“It is hard not to be jealous of the new facilities,” added his mother, Julie.

Learning that he, too, had been selected for EU’s premium merit scholarship cemented the deal for Drew.

The Founders Scholarship is geared toward high achieving students who also have deep involvement in church, school and community service. This year’s scholars have an average 3.9 GPA and 28 ACT.

On Feb. 26-27, Evangel interviewed 161 Founders Scholars from 32 states and two foreign countries. Each will receive a Founder’s Scholarship ranging from $10,000 to $21,000 per year — and those scholarships are renewable for four years.

“That whole Founder’s weekend was a great experience,” added Drew. “My parents are sad that I am leaving, but they are super-stoked for me to go to Evangel.”


FIRST PUBLISHED: Friday, March 11, 2016, in the Springfield News-Leader