As a Haitian immigrant majoring in Bible in Abilene, Texas, Gloria (Paul ’14) Hagood faced a challenge more difficult than the Greek intensive courses she took.
“But I never back down from a challenge,” she said. “If anything, that’s going to make me want to do it more.”
Despite financial challenges, as well as being a female in a traditionally male field of study, Hagood persevered to develop her passions. With encouragement from her family, her husband, Lavell (’15), and faculty in the College of Biblical Studies, Hagood earned her undergraduate degree in biblical text and plans to graduate with her Master’s of Divinity in 2018.
Hagood’s family immigrated to the U.S. when she was 5 years old. Her parents tell her stories of how they didn’t speak English when they arrived and found jobs washing dishes in restaurants. Now her father works as a U.S. postal carrier, and her mother is able to stay at home.
“My parents always worked hard,” Hagood said. “I get my resilience and desire to keep going from them.”
Hagood and her twin sister both wanted to go to college far from Bordentown, N.J., where they grew up. They chose ACU for the small classes and Christian environment. While her sister studied education, Hagood was drawn toward the Bible department, inspired by her future husband’s experience taking ministry classes. After taking a class with Old Testament scholar Dr. Glenn Pemberton, Hagood decided to major in Biblical text.
“I just love the challenge and the mystery with languages,” she said. “Learning so much about the Ancient Near East really expanded my mind, and I wanted to figure out more.”
Although she loved the first Greek course she took, she was nervous to take Greek II, a more intense course. Because her professors encouraged her, she took the class with boldness, and her character grew stronger from the experience, she said. She treasures the close mentoring relationships she developed with professors such Pemberton and Dr. Jeanine Reese, associate chair of the Department of Bible, Missions and Ministry and director for the Center for Women in Christian Service.
“She knows who she is in Christ, and in that regard she is her own person,” Reese said. “She’s so smart, insightful and wise.”
Hagood’s goal is to one day teach the truths she’s learned at an institution like ACU and to make an impact on the African-American community. But she didn’t wait until graduation to begin making an impact.
She joined a female covenant group led by Reese, which involved memorizing Scripture, participating in weekly spiritual challenges and serving the community. She worked with Treadaway Kids, an ACU ministry in which students serve low-income neighborhood children.
She also volunteers with Minter Lane Church of Christ’s young adult ministry and concentrates on building relationships. She applies what she learns in her classes, teaching them the Biblical text she loves.
In summer 2016, she teamed up with her husband and former ACU track athlete Paris Robertson to operate a speed training camp. The Summer Blaze 2K16 speed camp allowed students ages 7-18 to sharpen their skills on the ACU track. Hagood and her husband endured the West Texas summer heat every afternoon for six weeks to teach the young athletes the book of Proverbs.
“I enjoy being able to give them that teaching in a way they can understand and apply, allowing them to see the beauty within the text,” she said.
“She is a force to be reckoned with now and in the future,” Reese said.