On Wings of Faith - eCampus Student Profile

At one point or another in our lives, we look up at the blue sky and follow a plane or a helicopter, even if just for a few seconds. Sometimes we wonder who flies the aircraft, what they look like and what they think. For once, we have an answer. One of the brave soldiers who keeps our skies safe and serves our country from above is Ryan Hawn.

Coast Guard pilot Ryan Hawn flies a helicopter over the Golden Gate Bridge four times a week, while five miles away students at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary attend classes. Ryan is also a Seminary student, although he’s never attended classes at the Northern California campus. He is taking an online theology course from the seminary’s eCampus program, Master of Theological Studies.

Ryan, 27, has always been eager for education. He enrolled in a dual enrollment program during high school with the local community college. After graduation, he attended the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. In four years he had earned his mechanical engineering degree and was commissioned as an officer. He then went to flight school, and in 18 months he graduated with his pilot’s license. In June of 2007, at 24 years old, Ryan had earned his wings and was sent to the San Francisco Bay Area for his first duty station.

However, this wasn’t the end of his education. When Troy Jacobson, the associate pastor at Coastside Community Church in Pacifica, California, and also an eCampus student, learned that Ryan wanted to “dive more intentionally into the Word,” he recommended Golden Gate Seminary’s eCampus program.

During the day Ryan flies an MH65C Dolphin short-range recovery and multi-mission helicopter, joined by a crew of four whose main missions involve search and rescue, homeland security, and training.

In the evenings, when the noise of his helicopter quiets down, this young man spends his spare time studying theology and sharing ideas and opinions with other members of the sociable online education community which has developed since he began his first eCampus course in early February 2010.

“We engage each other regarding the material we’re reading,” explained the Florida native, referring to his relationship with his nineteen classmates. “We’ve developed a community among ourselves, and there are many ways to interact with each other as we study.” Ryan listed the variety of interactive learning options, including the weekly online forums, live chat sessions with Dr. Rick Durst each Thursday at 5:00 PM, video posts on YouTube, a weekly visual lecture, study guides, and quizzes.

“I like to get my postings done early in order to get a thoughtful response from my classmates,” said Ryan. He noted how the online discussion forum enables everyone “to say exactly what they think. The format allows everybody a chance to be heard without anyone dominating the conversation.” The group is learning together and helping each contemplate the questions. “I’m really enjoying the class.”

Currently taking Christian Theology II, Ryan said he would choose the online format even if he had the time to attend class. “This gives me lots of opportunity for self-study, and fits into my schedule, regardless.” He anticipates taking more classes and says, “It’s an excellent experience, and a very legitimate way to learn. I can get a master’s degree and go to seminary!”
Golden Gate Seminary’s fully accredited eCampus program has been available since 2006 through a partnership with The Learning House, Inc., a total online education solutions partner that helps colleges and universities offer and manage their online degree programs.
Golden Gate Seminary’s Master of Divinity and Master of Theological Studies online degrees are designed for adult learners who want to work on their seminary degree at their own pace from anywhere in the world. More than 40 hours of courses in Old Testament, New Testament, Bible, Church and Baptist History, Worship, Principles and Practices of Bible Teaching, Greek, and Hebrew are offered annually. Taught by eight dedicated and passionate professors, the online courses span a 10- to15-week semester. All credit hours are transferable to any higher education institution.

“Golden Gate Seminary created the eCampus program to deliver accredited theological education and leadership skill development to those already established in their ministry setting,” said Dr. Rick Durst, Director of eCampus. These fully-accredited, master-level courses are 100% online and require no visits to a campus. For more information.