Preview Day gives students glimpse into life at JU

KNOXVILLE — High school students from across the country came to JUTN ‘s campus this week to discover whether or not they will become future JU students.

Thirty-seven students attended this month’s Preview Day, including students from 12 different states.

Human services and children’s ministry were the most popular programs of interest among this group of potential enrollees.

One student, Josh Laughren, heard about JU from his cousin, and JUTN senior, Hannah Vaughn.

Josh Laughren sits at the youth ministry table

Laughren, originally from Johnson City, Tennessee, said he is passionate about serving youth.

“I truly feel I have been called to minister to the youth and children of today for God’s Kingdom,” he said.

Laughren said that attending a Christian university will act as a steppingstone in achieving this calling.

“It will also allow me to become more deeply rooted in my faith so as to better serve the Lord,” he said. “I love the fact that Johnson is a small close-knit college where everyone knows everyone.

“I much prefer that to a larger school, and honestly, I can’t think of anything I would change about it,” he added.

Laughren said he was excited to meet the staff and play Ultimate with Johnson’s Ultimate Frisbee Club.

High school student, Nicholas Lachino, heard about JU through his youth minister, an alumnus of Florida Christian College.

Nicholas Lachin0 sits at the music ministry table

Lachino, originally from Acworth, Georgia, said he wants to attend a Christian university because he has always seen himself working in a church setting.

“My passion is leading worship,” he said. “I have done that at my church for two years and enjoy every second.”

Lachino said his favorite part of Preview Day was getting to meet the professors and other students at JU.

Hannah Hackleton, a high school student from Herndon, Virginia, is hoping to pursue an undergraduate degree in youth ministry and a master’s in counseling.

Hannah Hackleton sits at the human services table

“To me, going to a Christian University allows me to learn in an atmosphere in which both the students and staff have like-minded hearts and like-minded spirits,” she said. “It also provides me with a safe environment to learn spiritually and to grow in my faith during these coming college years.”

Hackleton has visited JUTN before, during a weeklong Christ in Youth event on campus one summer.

Hackleton said that she loves the location of JU and is looking forward to experiencing the campus environment during the school year.

Student Josh Yowell first visited JUTN during Spring Retreat in 2014.

Yowell, who lives in Thompson Station, Tennessee, will graduate from Independence High School this May.

“I was diagnosed with Mild Cerebral Palsy due to being born 10.5 weeks early. I started school a year late due to this which is why I am graduating this year at the age of 19,” he said.

Yowell plans on majoring in preaching and church leadership if he attends JUTN.

Josh Yowell sits at the youth ministry table

“It was important to me to attend a school to not only achieve academically but could help with my spiritual growth,” he said. 

Yowell said that he likes the smaller atmosphere at JU because it allows for students to be cared for as individuals.

“I like the atmosphere and feel the Holy Spirit as a tangible part of the environment and everyday life when I’ve been there,” he said. “I only have one thing to add, I wish Johnson had a football team.”

Yowell said he enjoyed staying overnight in the dorms as a part of preview day.

“My favorite part of preview day was getting to spend time in the dorms and getting to go to a class because if gave me the flavor of life as a Johnson University life,” he said. “I’d like to thank Cody Derringer for sharing his room with me and Johnson for the visit.”

Student Brooke Effland, from Springfield, Missouri, plans to study cross-cultural communications at JUTN starting this fall.

“I recently went to Ghana, West Africa and have a passion for serving the Lord through missions as well as through communication,” she said. “Going to a Christian university will not only allow me to grow deeper in my relationships with others but also with Christ and will equip me to serve the Lord more fully on the missions field.”

Brooke Effland sits at the intercultural studies table

Effland said that the smaller class sizes at JU were attractive to her when searching for a university.

“I love the sense of community at Johnson. I’m looking forward to all that life on campus brings and can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for me during my time at Johnson,” she said. “Of course I wish Johnson wasn’t ten hours away from my hometown but everything else about the university makes it worth the drive.”

Effland said she is excited to introduce her mother to the JUTN campus.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the people who make Johnson what it is today. The campus is so friendly and welcoming,” she said. “It has been three years since I have been to Johnson so it’s exciting to be back.”

Effland said her experience at Preview Day validated her decision to commit to JU.

“I loved being able to walk down the sidewalks and being greeted by those that would pass by,” she said. “Sitting in on the Orientation to the New Testament was awesome too. Dr. [Heather] Gorman has such a passion for what she teaches and that passion shines through in her teaching. Her excitement made me excited.”

Student Sam Troupe, from Plainfield, Indiana, is interested in the communication media ministry program.

He first heard about JU through his older brother, Kyle Troupe, a sophomore at JU.

“I was mostly looking forward to getting to hear more about the classes that I specifically

Troupe sits at the media/communications table

would be taking,” he said. “The thing that stood out to me the most was how kind everyone was. Everyone I met was extremely friendly and open and I felt very welcomed here.”

Troupe said that he enjoyed the opportunity to speak to faculty within his program of interest.

“Being able to ask questions directly about what classes I’ll be taking was very beneficial for me,” he said. “Also, I thought it was neat that the soccer coaches sought me out and talked to me about the team and the season and stuff, which is really cool.”

The next Preview Day will be held March 10. Students should contact Hope Smyth at for more information.

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