A Challenge Worth Meeting

The News Magazine of HCU

HCU Launches Military Challenge Coin Initiative

HCU alum Cody Harrington is a U.S. Military combat veteran who served 8 years as an army paratrooper in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Toward the end of his military career, he experienced a crisis of faith that led him to question the deeper issues of life until he crossed paths with an individual who shared the Gospel with him. The encounter transformed his life and set him on a path that eventually led him to enroll at Houston Christian University (HCU), formerly Houston Baptist University.

Today he is fighting on a different battlefield as Assistant Director of International & Veteran Services at HCU where he stands in the gap to help student veterans transition from military service to pursuing their educational goals.

“As veterans, we understand servant leadership. We gave up our rights as citizens to serve our country and in that same capacity, “I get to do the same thing here,” said Harrington in a HCU “Think About It” podcast interview.

Under the leadership of Shannon Bedo, Director of International and Veteran Student Services at HCU, Harrington launched a Military Challenge Coin initiative in the spring of 2023 to celebrate the achievements of student veterans and pay tribute to the faculty and/or staff members who provide invaluable support to them during their time at the University.

“In the military community, challenge coins are a catalyst for servicemembers to honor those who have made a difference in their lives and careers. Our aim at HCU is to continue this tradition by starting our own version. We give two coins to each graduating veteran, one to keep for their own memories and one to give to an HCU faculty or staff member who has made a positive impact on their educational journey,” shared Bedo.

Seven student veterans in the Spring 2023 graduating class were presented with the commemorative coins – one to celebrate completion of their degrees and one to share with a faculty or staff member who impacted their lives during the course of their studies.

“We believe that receiving a challenge coin from a veteran is a great honor as it signifies an eternal impact was made in the veteran’s life while attending HCU,” said Harrington.

Dr. Mary White, Asst. Professor of Education was the first HCU professor to receive this special honor. HCU alumna, Kenyada Fore, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, earned a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction this past spring and presented Dr. White with the special coin.

Witnessing elite military leaders present military coins to her fellow Marines, the HCU student veteran valued the opportunity to recognize Dr. White’s impact on her life in a similar way.

“You have partaken in the development of me becoming a teacher, so I pass to you the additional coin I received from HCU for your leadership in serving me. Thank you, Dr. White. I will always remember you,” said Fore in a special note to her advisor.

The touching tribute brought tears to Dr. White’s eyes. She commended the HCU student veteran for completing her graduate degree in the face of numerous challenges.

“In my brief time as her advisor, Kenyada has actually encouraged me the most. Her resilience as a single mom moving to a new city and finishing her degree reminded me of my single motherhood. We have prayed together, cried together and even laughed together. Her sharing this medallion reminds me why I’m an educator and why I am a Christian who advises HCU students,” said Dr. White.

HCU was among 530 out of 1,800 schools chosen this past spring to receive the 2023-2024 Military Friendly Schools Designation and one of 250 schools chosen to receive a “Gold Ranking” for its leading practices, outcomes and effective programs for student veterans.