Kevin O’Brien, Director of Alumni and Public Relations, confessed his love for singing.
“I loved every minute of it, worked so hard it was unbelievable, never thought about the traveling or the work, just loved every minute of it!” O’Brien said.
O’Brien traveled often with his quartet in 1968 when he first became a student at Johnson University.
Singing, however, was not the only love he found in his quartet. Later on, Wilbur Reid Jr. asked the quartet and an all female trio to join together and form what would become known as The New Encounters.
In the trio O’Brien met Donna Harper, a young lady, who he said was beaming with joy and peace.
“We would be on the road all the time,” O’Brien said. “This time really stood out to me because this was the time I found my wife Donna and the time I found my lifelong friends.”
When O’Brien was not traveling, he spent his time in the White House as a bellboy for Mrs. R.M. Bell, who had recently lost her husband.
“I was a four hour work student and it was not uncommon for me to put in 20-30 hours,” he said. “Just because Mrs. Bell was so eccentric. I served her dinner, set her table and washed her dishes.”
One could say that it was Bell who inspired Kevin’s young heart for mission work.
“I had always intended to be in ministry,” O’Brien said. “Being a student was not as important as the mission work.”
O’Brien spent many years in various ministries before returning to Johnson University in 2003.
O’Brien said his motivation and inspiration came from the students and the mission he shares with Johnson University.
“I really do love the students, which I had to wonder if this was going to be a good fit because I’m the father of three, and when they were teenagers they didn’t really care much for me,” said O’Brien. “So I was thinking, ‘I’m going to Johnson and working with teenagers. What am I going to think about them?’ But I’ve just fallen in love with them.”
O’Brien used to lead a small group on Friday mornings for the students, which included dinners, plays, and singing praise songs. Now with the new times for chapel he says getting involved has become more of a challenge.
O’Brien says that the younger alumni also have a hard time getting involved with the school. “I would like to see the younger alumni recognized. Almost all of our involved alumni are over 50, but over 50% of our alumni came to the institution after the year 2000, so I’d like to see our younger folks get more connected,” he said.
O’Brien has many hidden talents. He not only has musical talents, but a servant’s heart. He is ready and willing to make the changes necessary to keep his beloved campus moving forward.