For some, a midlife career shift follows a desire for a higher income or discontentment with a current job; for others—like Pensacola Christian College graduate Scot Bryan (Criminal Justice ’94, M.S. Educational Leadership ’20)—the shift came from a much different reason: a burden to follow the Lord’s leading.
In February 2022, Scot retired from a successful career with the United States Secret Service. During this time, he worked on investigations and helped protect several United States presidents. Yet less than a week after his retirement from the Secret Service, he became the full-time administrator at Juniata Christian School in Vassar, Michigan—the very school he had attended growing up.
A Burden for Education
Scot spent over 20 years in Secret Service and found that PCC’s learning experiences outside the classroom also strengthened his professional career. “As related to my undergraduate degree, the thing I needed the most was the rigid structure provided by PCC’s training,” he said. “It prepared me for both my first career and my current career. Although flexibility is necessary in every aspect of life, PCC helped me form a philosophy of consistent detailed planning and a disciplined adherence to that plan.”
Scot’s sensing that God was leading him into education began long before his career shift. In 2009, after a move to Woodbridge, Virginia, Scot began coaching soccer for two of his children. “I did this the best I could because the pace of travel was constant at times. The Lord seemed to have His hand in this, because my heavy travel would always fall in the off season,” he said. “As I began to work with these young people in the community, the Lord burdened my heart for kids and for teaching.”
“The Lord made it clear that my next phase would be in education.”
In addition to this burden, God used valuable mentors—Dr. Brian Kosa and Jamison Coppola (Criminal Justice ’95, M.S. Educational Administration ’97)—to encourage Scot to pursue education. “Dr. Kosa was an experienced administrator who had a ton of wisdom and encouraged me to get my master’s in education,” Scot said. On the other hand, Coppola, who worked with government relations and the American Association of Christian Schools, had been a longtime friend since their college days. “[We] had been in the same collegian. We spent many hours discussing education, politics, and culture. With my experience in coaching, the council of Dr. Kosa, and my comradery of Jamie and [our] intellectual discussions, the Lord made it clear that my next phase would be in education.”
With this newfound interest, Scot Bryan began searching master’s programs; he finally settled on pursuing a master’s in educational leadership at PCC while still working for the Secret Service. “Two distinct things helped me in my decision to return to PCC,” Bryan said. “The cost at PCC was going to fit my budget needs, and PCC’s strong philosophical stance on traditional methods and classrooms was a fit for what I desired.”
“PCC’s program provided me with the exact foundation of knowledge I needed.”
Bryan finished his master’s in 2020, the same time his older daughter Hannah (Professional Writing ’20) graduated with her bachelor’s. “PCC’s program provided me with the exact foundation of knowledge I needed to understand the fundamentals of running a school,” Scot said. Less than two years later, he was using this knowledge as the Juniata Christian School’s new administrator.
A Carefully Orchestrated Skillset
Looking back, Scot is confident that God had a purpose for his time in the Secret Service. “I believe God had me journey through 25 years of law enforcement so that I would have the scope and depth of understanding of people necessary to navigate interaction with students, parents, and outside entities. The leadership of a Christian school involves two key qualities—communication and understanding. These things are honed in a person who desires to be an excellent law enforcement professional,” he explained.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” —Proverbs 3:5
Scot regularly uses these skills as he works with teachers, students, and parents. In addition to making sure the school is succeeding academically, he organizes events and makes sure the school’s organization, budget, and policies support the school’s mission and purpose. His wife, Michelle (Criminal Justice ’96), also works at the school as an administrative officer, often assisting her husband with tasks and offering valuable advice for decisions that need to be made. “Both structure and flexibility are important for a school administrator, and my time with the U.S. Secret Service prepared me for those necessary qualities,” Scot said. “When I began to pursue a career in education, God was not surprised. It had been His plan from the beginning.”
As he moves forward into education from Secret Service, Scot Bryan knows that he only has to trust God in order to serve others through his career shift. “Proverbs 3:5 [says], ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding,’” he recited. “To trust someone, you have to know them. To trust God, I have to ensure that my manner of living is that I know Him so personally, that I trust Him completely.”
Read more about how God is directing and working through PCC faculty and alumni.