By Sarah Goff
Union University news office
JACKSON — Friends Kaitlyn Waites, Leah Crews and Sarah Middlebrook have always been in each other’s lives.
They grew up in the same church, attended the same elementary, middle and high school, and this fall, all three will room together as freshmen at Union University.
These three incoming freshmen are from Union City and attend Second Baptist Church. They graduated from Obion County Central High School at the end of May.
“We’ve always been friends through church and everything,” Waites said. “We did Bible drills together and children’s choir and we’re in the same youth group, and just everything — we’ve just done everything together.”
Their pastor, Justin Hiens of Second Baptist Church, and his wife also graduated from Union University in 2003. He said as an alumnus, he is always thrilled when one of their young people decides to attend the university.
“The fact that Kaitlyn, Leah and Sarah have all chosen to enroll at Union is such a blessing to me personally and our church,” Hiens said. “Union helped shape me into the pastor and leader I am today. These young ladies have been leaders in our youth, mentors to my children, and I cannot wait to see how God molds them into future leaders during their time at Union.”
When it came time to choose colleges, all three visited many different places, but each ultimately felt drawn to Union because of its Christ-centered environment.
Middlebrook decided to attend Union first. She had visited Union as a high school junior and senior, as well as many other colleges, but she said, “in the back of my mind, it was just like, ‘Oh yeah, these are great places, but I’m going to Union.’ ”
Waites and Crews were not originally considering Union, but Middlebrook encouraged them to visit campus and told them they would love it. During their campus tour in February, Waites and Crews met Fran Thomas, special events/visit coordinator for undergraduate admissions.
“What (Fran) said about Union, I could already tell it was true,” Crews said. “She started praying for us, and I was like, ‘This is where I want to be for the next four years of my life.’ ”
The Christ-centered atmosphere is what led Waites to choose Union, she said. As she sat in a chapel service during preview day and heard the speaker address a topic she had been wrestling with, Waites said in that moment she knew she wanted to attend Union.
“Just the atmosphere of it all was great, everybody was so nice, and it was just different than any other place that I had toured,” she said.
Middlebrook and Waites have not yet decided on a major, but said they are looking forward to figuring out what they want to study.
Crews plans to study political science and said she was impressed after meeting Sean Evans, department chair for political science, during her campus tour. Advisers she met at other colleges had only talked about how great their program was and why she should come to their school, she said.
“But Dr. Evans sat down and asked me about what I wanted to do and what my plans were and just tried to help me find my fit there, and that was amazing to me,” Crews said.
All three said in the fall they look forward to building community, getting to know professors and experiencing college life in a Christ-centered environment. Middlebrook said she is excited that she and two of her closest friends get to go to Union, the college of their choice, together.
“This friendship has just been a big part of my life,” she said. “I just think that it’s awesome that we’re going to get to do this and grow together.” B&R