Ashley Spurdens

I still get first-day jitters. I’m always excited to meet a new group of students and I love the revitalizing fresh start that a new semester brings. I prepare, organize, and double-check my syllabus. Still, every first day back, as I drive to campus extra early to make sure nothing keeps me from arriving late, this sneaky little voice of self-doubt always finds a way to whisper in my ear: “You’re not ready for this.” As a new professor (just two years in) I still struggle with feeling adequate. I wonder if I’m qualified enough. I want my students to feel comfortable, but at the same time I don’t want to become too informal. I want to remain professional while also being approachable. And above all, as I attempt to attain this remarkable balance, I think to myself, “How will they know I love Jesus? How will I stand out?” Over the past semester, I put forth a more consistent effort of praying for my students. Sometimes it would be in the car before I walked in. Oftentimes it was during the silence as they all hunkered over an exam. I would scan the room and pause on each face, asking God, “Lord, let them know You love them. Let them know You are real. And please make a way for me speak Your truth to them.” God has been teaching me lately that all He really desires of me is to be a willing participant in whatever He has planned. I find that it is much easier to say, “Lord, use me however you see fit today,” than to try to analyze my interactions with my students to determine if I seemed “Christian enough” to them. God has provided opportunities for me to share my faith in a small way with my students. Just one example from last semester: one student shared with me how he was dealing with a lot of change in his life and he asked me to send him “good thoughts” so as to help his situation improve. It was so strange, like God literally put the words in my mouth, because before I even thought through it, I was saying, “Well, my thoughts won’t do much for you, but I do believe in prayer. And I will be praying.” A spark of recognition registered on his face, and I left campus that day confident that God would work in his life. In Proverbs 3 we are instructed to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths” (v. 5-6, HCSB). I’m relying on my own understanding when I focus on how I appear to my students, and in the process I’m distracting myself from God’s purpose for me as a professor. God uses us most in our classrooms when we acknowledge Him in all we do, and trust Him with the results.

My Life

My hobbies

Amateur beach volleyball, tactical laser tag, watching Netflix with my husband

Fantasy dinner guests

Johnny Depp or Defense Secretary Mattis

Best advice I ever received

Stop worrying about every moment, and just live. Enjoy the time you have with the people around you, because God has put them in your life at this point in time for a reason.

My undergrad alma mater

UNC Wilmington

My worst subject in school

Science or Math

In college I drove

1998 Honda Civic

If I weren't a professor, I would

join the military or be a translator in the Criminal Justice system

Favorite books

Top Dog by Maria Goodavage, Three by Ted Dekker

Favorite movies

The entire PIrates of the Caribbean series, Hacksaw Ridge, The Case for Christ, I Can Only Imagine

Favorite city

Wilmington, NC

Favorite coffee

Literally any form of coffee is my favorite.

Nobody knows I

love playing laser tag in my free time.

My latest accomplishment

Some friends of mine started a beach volleyball league in the summer, and with minimal skill we played through the season. On the day of the championship tournament, our team placed second overall and only lost by two points, so for me, that was a big accomplishment.