By Elisa (Pellegriti ’01) Becze
Larry Griffith ‘85
When Larry Griffith graduated from Geneva in 1985, he had no idea where his communication degree would lead him. Shortly after graduation, he entered the U.S. Navy’s Officer Candidate School. He received his commission in 1986 and served as a naval officer until 1992, when he began an executive career with Alltel Wireless.
Eventually, Larry became regional president for the southeastern United States, responsible for $1.5 billion, 1,300 employees and 2.6 million customers. But he had inherited a low-morale workforce, which had led to 70 percent employee turnover and low customer satisfaction. To motivate his workforce, Larry says he knew he had to draw on something deeper than corporate strategy.
“Geneva planted the seeds of servant-leadership in my heart, which over the years had resulted in personal passion and continued self-study on the topic,” he says. “This passion was channeled into a servant-leadership course that our regional leaders went through based on the teachings of Christ.”
Through the implementation of this radical yet Alltel-approved course, Larry and his team changed the culture of the company and cut turnover by 60 percent in two years. But Larry says the greatest payoff was not increased productivity for the company.
“The biggest reward from this program was having people tell me it made them a better spouse or parent, and I saw several people return to Christ or come to Christ,” he says. “It was rewarding to know that the things I learned at Geneva and as an adult ultimately impacted 1,300 people.”
Early in 2009, Larry’s career came full circle when he accepted the position of Vice President of Finance and Operations for Geneva College.
Jennifer Flinn ‘00
When Jennifer Flinn graduated, she thought she knew exactly what God wanted her to pursue. After earning her bachelor’s in psychology, she moved straight into Geneva’s Master of Science in Counseling program.
Shortly after she completed the degree, she was given a teaching opportunity at Geneva. Dr. Carol Luce, then chair of the department, offered her the opportunity to teach a developmental psychology class for a professor who was on maternity leave.
The experience was a revelation for Jennifer. “I discovered that I loved to teach, and that I really loved developmental psychology,” she says. “I know that Dr. Luce’s phone call to me was more than a coincidence; it was God’s providing me with a direction for my life.”
Now juggling her own teaching schedule as a professor at Frostburg State University, Jennifer has a deep appreciation for the Geneva faculty members that made such a lasting impact on her personal and professional development. This motivates her to go the extra mile for her own students.
“I'll have students wanting to talk with me after class, and even when I'm tired and it’s late and I really just want to get going, I'll do my best to encourage them the way [my professors] encouraged me,” she says.
Learning to Listen
As Geneva prepared Jennifer and Larry to pursue their careers, it also strengthened their walk with God. Through faith-centered classes, close friendships and a caring community, the college experience helped them come to know Christ in a deeper way than they ever had before.
“My time at Geneva really helped me to grow in my Christian walk so that I feel more confident to be a light in my little corner of the world,” Jennifer says. “I was a Christian before I came to Geneva, but I feel like I ‘owned’ that statement by the time I left.”
Larry says he strongly believes that Geneva’s Christ-centered worldview sharpened his skill of separating God’s truth from the many shades of the world’s lies.
“Geneva College was a significant tool that the Lord has used in my life to allow me to hear the voice of truth in the midst of the many other voices that would discourage and lead me astray,” he says, referencing the song “Voice of Truth,” by Caedmon’s Call. “Our students can go out into the world and live as beacons of wisdom in a dark, postmodern world.”
For over 50 years, Geneva’s chemistry department has been approved by the American Chemical Society (ACS)—a distinction achieved by only six other colleges in the CCCU.