Community Spotlight: Austen Powell

  Jessyca Brown
  Wednesday, January 24, 2024 8:45 AM
  General Events

Hillsboro, TX

Austen Powell is the assistant to the president for strategic initiatives and sponsored projects administration at Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) in Keene, Texas. During his senior year in high school, Austen began taking dual credit general education and business courses at Hill College. After graduating from high school and taking the college credits he earned from Hill College, he went on to get his bachelor’s degree in theology from SWAU. He then went on to get a master’s in divinity from Andrews University as well as an MBA from the University of Texas at Tyler.

Before joining SWAU, Austen was a youth pastor in Cleburne, Texas, serving the community where he grew up. His work in the ministry has influenced his career path and is a large part of why he is in the role he is at SWAU. Austen oversees three initiatives at the university—promoting the SWAU to the community and developing strategic partnerships, grant writing, and managing the office of student success, ranging from career guidance, assisting transfer students, advising, ensuring first-year student success, and overseeing undergraduate research.

“What encouraged me to pursue this position was my passion for the students at Southwestern Adventist University. I had never written a grant or led any student success initiatives. I never imagined I would be where I am today, but when I saw the opportunity to support our students, I taught myself how to write grants and develop student success programs so that we could create meaningful opportunities for our students,” said Austen.

When reflecting on his time at Hill College, Austen credits Mrs. Garratt for encouraging him to improve his writing skills. During his senior year in high school, while taking a remedial English class as a dual credit course, she taught him how to write and continued to support him in his education.

“When I began by education at SWAU for my bachelor’s degree and took my first English course, I had one of the highest grades in the class and was chosen to share my work with the class on multiple occasions. I went from hating to read and write to loving it, thanks to her. Today I have written numerous grant proposals, many of which were over 50 pages. It’s amazing how one class at Hill College changed the trajectory of my life forever.”

Currently, Austen is pursuing his doctoral degree at Texas Woman’s University, working toward his PhD in educational leadership and organization in higher education.