“South Texas is in my blood,” says Dr. Jena Dunn. “I was born in Victoria and grew up in Inez. My parents always encouraged excellence, and I think that is what drove me to pursue higher education and follow God’s call on my life.”

Dr. Dunn was surrounded by Christianity at an early age. She grew up with a grandfather who was a pastor and a family who was very active in the church. However, it was not until she was in eighth grade that she decided to accept Jesus for herself. “Church was a stabilizing factor in my childhood and youth, but I was a skeptical child who didn’t want to do things the expected way,” she shares. “However, when I was in eighth grade, my Sunday school class went through a theological study of who God is and everything finally made sense to me intellectually.”

Dr. Dunn ventured to Texas A&M University Corpus Christi where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with a minor in Special Education. Upon graduation, she accepted an internship position with Baptist Student Ministry at TAMUCC and Del Mar. “Through BSM, I not only discovered a love for ministering to college students, I also heard about Stark College & Seminary,” Dr. Dunn tells us. “During my internship, I decided to pursue my Master of Divinity in Cross-Cultural Studies at Logsdon Seminary through SCS.”

After the completion of her internship at BSM, Dr. Dunn accepted a part-time administrative assistant position at SCS while she finished her master’s degree. Fast forward ten years and Dr. Dunn is now the Provost and a Senior Lecturer in Cross-Cultural Studies and Education at Stark College & Seminary. With a calling to discover ways to best serve the educationally underserved, Dr. Dunn completed her Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership from Texas A&M Commerce in 2018.

“My dissertation for my EdD was entitled Exploring Higher Education Institution Administrators, Certificate Students, and Employer Perceptions of Religious Educational Certificates and Diplomas: An Embedded Qualitative Single-Case Study,” Dr. Dunn shares. “This study sought to determine the purpose of theological certificate programs. The study found tiered programming encourages students to begin with a certificate in order to build their confidence to pursue additional degrees.”

With this new research, Dr. Dunn continues to bring an unparalleled level of expertise to SCS’s curriculum and program design. SCS currently implements the tiered programming model where each degree builds upon the previous creating a clear pathway for students to pursue higher degrees. “I hope to continue building programs at Stark that make our students’ educational goals achievable while also providing the information that will help them succeed in their ministry endeavors,” she explains.

Outside of SCS, you can find Dr. Dunn reading anything she can get her hands on, playing board games with her husband, and hanging out with their great dane, Amy Farrah Fowler.