Friday, June 28, 2013

Remembering Bluefield: Michael DuVal

Welcome back to another installment of Remembering Bluefield! I know, it's been a while since I've posted one of these walks down memory lane, but here we are. This week, we put Michael DuVal in the hot seat. Enjoy!

Michael DuVal

What year did you graduate?

What degree did you earn?
A.A. in Liberal Arts (I was in the last graduating class when Bluefield was still a two-year college.)

What drew you to Bluefield College?
I attended Bluefield because of the distinctively Christian environment it offered, which I learned about from a weekend revival team that came to the church I was a member of as a youth. (I arrived at Bluefield to move into the dorm two days before classes began never previously having set foot on the campus.)

What kept you there?
I never considered leaving. I appreciated so much the genuine interest professors had in me as a person. I formed life-long friendships when there. And, oh yeah, there was this girl...

Is there a class that changed your life? If so, what?
No life changing classes for me--but I really enjoyed being academically challenged by Mr. Farrar's Western Civ class and Dr. Tyer's World Religions class (which was packed into a three week J-term in January that the college offered way back then).

What teacher had the biggest impact on you? Why?
The staff person who had the greatest impact on my life was Whitey Davis, the Director of Student Activities. He encouraged and challenged me to grow as a leader and facilitated my going out on Friday through Sunday student-led revival teams preaching, leading in worship and youth activities in churches across Virginia (back then 15 to 20 student-led teams would go to minister in local churches each semester).

Did you live on campus or commute?
I lived on campus.

Who were your roommates?
The first semester of my first year my roommates were a Nigerian military veteran who had fought in a war in his country and a guy with long hair and a beard who was a dope smoker--who shall remain nameless here. (Back then in Cruise the rooms were about the size of those in Rish now. There were three men in most rooms with bunk beds stacked three high and a chest with three drawers for all your possessions.) My first January term I had another roommate who left school because he was homesick. (Are you beginning to wonder if I was a terrible roommate?) For the rest of my time at Bluefield, I roomed with Rob Brown, and we roomed together again after we transferred to the University of Richmond, so I guess I wasn't so bad.

Share an epic roommate story (if you have one).
Well, a prank that was done when I first arrived at Bluefield was that people would "penny" you in your room so you could not get out by wedging pennies between the door and its frame. However, this practice stopped when my Nigerian veteran roommate kicked the door in because no one was going to lock him in his room. And, there was the time when the guy in the room next to me built a homemade aquarium, filled it with piranha, and one night it gave way, and piranha flooded out into the hallway and down the steps. Do those kinds of things count as "epic"?

What's your most cherished Bluefield College memory?
Asking my parents to stand when I gave the valedictory address at my graduation and having people applaud for them, something I suspect they had never experienced in life coming from the poor, rural background I grew up in.

Where are you now?
I live in Roanoke, Virginia.

What are you doing?
I am the Lead Pastor of Journey Church, which is a portable congregation that rents seven auditoriums in a theater complex on Sunday mornings.

Does that mean you're using your degree?
yes, I am using what I learned in studying the liberal arts because I was taught to think critically and strategically and to communicate effectively.

Are you where you pictured yourself being when you were in college?
Yes, I pictured myself as a pastor in the beautiful mountains of Virginia that I began to love when I first came to Bluefield.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself still as Lead Pastor of Journey, with several younger women and men pastors serving with me on the Sunday morning congregational teaching team.

What's your greatest post-BC accomplishment?
Academically, maintating the 4.0 GPA I had at BC at the University of Richmond also and graduating Phi Beta Kappa. Professionally, I serve as a Trustee of V3, a Virginia Baptist church multiplication initiative, committed to starting 200 new congregations in the next 10 years, and I serve on the Executive Committee of BC's Board of Trustees and was excited to take a leadership role in the formation of the Board of Directors for Bluefield's new dental school. Personally, my greatest accomplishment (if it can be called that) is having a wife who still loves me after 33 years and two wonderful children.

What's your fondest post-BC memory?
The relationships. My fondest memory of BC since leaving BC relates to wonderful relationships with many, many of my classmates for approaching 40 years. Almost 20 of us get together every other year at various places across Virginia to remember our days at Bluefield and tell stories--some of which should not be published here.

If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything?
I probably would give more thought to leading a student protest march that could have gotten me kicked out of college--but, hey, at least I didn't "streak" like a number of students did!

Thanks again to Michael DuVal for playing along this week! Not sure when I'll have another Remembering Bluefield installment, but it should be a good one.

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