Chane Eplin - Secondary English
More than anything else, Chane Eplin wanted to find God's will for his life. So at 18, he forsook plans to study aeronautical engineering at Kent State University in Ohio to attend Southeastern, a Christian university he learned about from a friend.
Eplin, who graduated in 1982, majored in secondary English because he wanted the ability to go anywhere the Lord sent him; teachers can find employment anyplace in the world, Eplin said. But Eplin didn't have to travel far to serve the Lord, for God sent students from around the globe to him. As a teacher of English as a second language for more than 20 years, Eplin has taught more than 1,000 people from 70 countries.
After Eplin graduated from Southeastern, he earned a master's degree in applied linguistics and English as a second language from University of South Florida. Eplin now teaches English as a second language at Polk Community College in Lakeland, Florida. Eplin has taught Vocational English for Speakers of Other Languages at Traviss Technical Center in Lakeland for 16 years. Prior to his current position at Polk Community College, Eplin trained other teachers to teach English as a second language for Polk County, Florida, schools. He also has taught linguistics as an adjunct professor at local universities, including Southeastern.
Southeastern, says Eplin, fed his spirit, prepared him for graduate school and a teaching career, and helped him cultivate personal skills. Southeastern's education courses that taught him how to teach, and a weekly discussion class that accompanied his student teaching internship, prepared him to teach. In addition, the advanced English grammar class, taught by former English Professor Dr. James West, gave Eplin a comprehensive understanding of grammar that helped him study 30 foreign languages in graduate school. The late Dr. West also was the first university official to arrange for Eplin to become an adjunct professor. "He believed in me," Eplin said of West and other Southeastern professors. Thanks to Dr. West, Eplin began teaching remedial English and composition courses at Southeastern in 1983. This teaching opportunity, although only part-time, opened doors for Eplin to teach linguistics as an adjunct at other local universities, including Florida Southern College and University of South Florida. And Eplin's many years of teaching courses probably gave Polk Community College officials confidence that he'd be a good full-time university professor, Eplin said.
While Eplin was developing skills he'd later use in his career, Southeastern helped him grow spiritually as well. Chapel services, he said, helped him see God's plan for his life. Eplin credits former Associate Professor of Bible and Theology Dr. Henry Evans with teaching him how to communicate his faith intelligently, and not simply using emotion. This skill has helped Eplin feel confident sharing his faith with anyone.
Extracurricular activities at Southeastern helped Eplin develop skills to minister to others. Eplin served as business manager of Southeastern's student newspaper, The Flame. Eplin was responsible for selling newspaper advertisement space to fund publication costs. This job helped Eplin feel comfortable approaching people who didn't know him. Eplin also played a lead role in a play at Southeastern. The experience he gained in drama helped his preaching, Eplin said, adding that good preachers are dramatic. In the 1980s, Eplin served as an associate pastor at Believer's Fellowship in Lakeland. In the 1990s Eplin pastored Harvest International Fellowship, a 50-member congregation, also in Lakeland.
Eplin sees teaching as ministry too. He said he strives to be a servant to his students by asking them what he can do to help them succeed. On a recent day during his office hours at Polk Community College, he was doing just that. He leaned over his desk to review an ESL grammar assignment with Rossely Martinez, a first-year student of Cuban and Guatemalan ancestry. After checking one of her answers, he told her that she did a "good job" and drew a happy face in her workbook. Martinez said Eplin is positive and happy. "I like the way he's energetic," she said. "There's more life in the class, so it's interesting." Eplin remembers his professors at Southeastern in a similar light. When asked which classes were most beneficial at Southeastern, Eplin first answered that all of them were because of the quality of his professors. Eplin feels honored to have learned from erudite, committed Christians. "For me," said Eplin, "(Southeastern) was heaven on earth."