Gillian Richard Kelley
I’ve been in Tuscaloosa a long time. I started undergrad in 2010, and graduated in 2014. I went to law school after that and finished up in December 2016. Now I work at the District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor. There have been a lot of changes in those 7 years, like my career choices—I started out in Business with the goal of owning a restaurant, then I switched to Public Relations and thought it would be my destiny to be a media relations pro for a Major League Baseball team (still not sure I’ve given up on that dream) and then I ended up in law school. Another huge change was in my personality. When I first joined Tide4Christ, I was so nervous and scared and shy and wanted to go home after my first semester. By the end of college, I settled in and ended up being president of the group for two years. I got married to someone I met in T4C, which has been the biggest change of all!
The Tide4Christ group itself has changed significantly since I’ve been here. My freshman year was pre-tornado (again, I’ve been here a long time), and our student center was totally separate from the building in a little house. Now we have an awesome space that’s in our building, which I think was a great strategic move to make sure college kids knew they were a part of the Central family. We also weren’t an official student organization when I started. Being recognized on UA’s campus has opened so many doors for us as far as recruitment to our group and being more visible to students on campus.
So many things have changed, but one constant has been Central and the Tide4Christ family. It hasn’t been constant in the sense that the same people have always been in the group, because I’ve been here long enough to see several classes come and go—it really makes you feel old when people who started college after you graduate—but it has been constant in the sense that it’s always been there for me. Not only is Tide4Christ is a place I could always call home, but the congregation at Central as a whole.
Change is a part of life, both good and bad. Change is also inevitable, especially when you come to college. All the things that have changed for me in the past 7 years have been good, even if it didn’t feel like it at first (although I’m still holding out for a job offer from the MLB). The change that has been the best, though, is the change in my relationship with Christ. Coming to college and being on your own means you have to take ownership of your faith, and I’ll be forever grateful that I had Tide4Christ to make sure I didn’t get lost along the way. If the time comes for us to leave Tuscaloosa and move to a new place, I know that leaving my church family here will be one of the hardest changes I’ve ever made. But I also know that no matter where I go, I’ll always be able to call this place home, and that will never change.
Gillian Richard Kelley is a 2014 graduate of the University of Alabama. While at the Central congregation and in Tide 4 Christ, Gillian played a vital role in organization of the ministry. She served as president for two years. We are thankful for her willingness to serve in the ministry!