Dallas Baptist University students in the Management Information Systems degree program are taught with the intention that they will be able to use technology to help businesses run more efficiently and effectively. Two of these students, Bill Livesey and Richard Collins, recently put their skills into practice.
In the Spring of 2012, Livesey and Collins enrolled in the Information Systems Analysis and Design course taught by Adjunct Professor Dale Harwell, who also serves on the board of directors at 6 Stones.
The local community outreach organization in the Hurst, Euless, and Bedford area, was looking for someone to step in and help develop a database for their “Community Powered Revitalization” (CPR) program. CPR is a bi-annual program that mobilizes volunteers to remodel, landscape and help build homes in the community. 6 Stones had documents and forms of the data they collected; however, they did not have a reliable and efficient way to keep track of all of the information.
“As we had this meeting at 6 Stones, wondering how we would improve this situation, we felt led to pray that God would provide a resource,” Professor Harwell recalled. “I felt God leading me to look at the résumés in my class.”
As he looked at his students’ résumés, Harwell ran across two names –Livesey and Collins– and the skills they had in the information technology realm made them prime candidates for the job.
Harwell approached the two students and asked if they would be interested in creating a database for 6 Stones. Their work would be deemed as a service-learning component of their class for course credit. Service-learning at DBU is a teaching and learning strategy which integrates academic instruction, community service, and guided reflection from a Christ-centered, faith-based perspective.
“When Professor Harwell gave us the opportunity to help 6 Stones ministry, I could not get the idea out of my mind,” said Collins. “For almost a week, my every waking thought was on helping them and what an amazing opportunity, not only to help, but to learn firsthand what it would be like to work in the field I am currently studying. God had a reason to put me there, and His nudging prompted me to participate.”
Professor Harwell appointed Livesey as project manager because of his previous experience in programming, and Collins volunteered to serve as the additional team member.
Creating this new database involved many of the strategies and techniques they learned in class. The classmates laid out the program and its flow, creating the documentation for the database and producing the paperwork associated with producing a database.
“I was able to witness the process of the Software Development Life Cycle and the difficulties of communication between the technical and the non-technical persons involved,” Collins explained.
Putting classroom principles into practice and seeing the impact that it had for 6 Stones has been a very rewarding experience for the DBU students and their professor.
“This was probably one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had as an adjunct professor,” Harwell expressed. “I was able to be a conduit to bring those resources to help 6 Stones. The need was there, and God provided the resources through my students.”
Collins shared, “I think that God put Bill and me in Professor Harwell’s class for the purpose of us working with 6 Stones. I find myself knowing that God put me there because He knew what was best, and He knows where He wants my career to end up. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to help an organization like 6 Stones.”
Reflecting on the work that was accomplished through this partnership, Scott Sheppard, executive director of 6 Stones, shared, “The Bible challenges us to use our time and talents for good and for the Kingdom. We assume that means to volunteer by doing something basic or menial from our physical resources or to give from our financial resources.”
“But, the Bible also talks about purpose and a plan for our lives,” he continued. “When you can also give of your talent – that which you are good at, passionate about, and trained to do – it has real power and purpose to accomplish even more!”