Cumberland University


Erin Pierce: Learning to be a Leader

Rick Brown
by Shauna Lynn Photography

To look at Education major Erin Pierce, you would never know he was once reluctant to take command of a situation. Calm and well-spoken, the senior student and FOCUS Mentor exudes a natural authority. But he wasn’t always so confident.

“I’ve always been an outgoing person,” said Pierce. “But I was never one to take control out in front.”

That situation changed when Pierce began attending Cumberland in the fall of 2007. Originally from Nashville, Pierce came to the university after having been scouted by a coach to play soccer. With the help of Cumberland faculty and staff, Pierce soon began to excel not only as an athlete but as a student leader.

“The professors were willing to take time out of their schedules to help, and they pushed me to want be a great student,” said Pierce. “Cumberland has given me the confidence to lead, and it’s helped me find my confidence in the classroom.”

Over the last four years, Pierce has come into his own, having played soccer for Cumberland, helped establish and lead the Student Government Association, and served on student activities boards and retention committees. Once mentored, Pierce now mentors other students as a member of FOCUS, a campus organization that helps undergraduates make a seamless transition into college life.

Pierce credits not only his own talents for that success, but also the personal interest Cumberland took in him as a student. Under professors and staff like Dr. Eric Cummings and Eddie Pawlawski, Pierce rose to meet high standards as a student leader and future teacher.

“We have a lot of observations, a lot of requirements, and a lot of state regulations to handle,” said Pierce. “But at the end of the day it’s a great reward—to be able to be in class and see what students are capable of.”

Through observing his professors, Pierce also learned not only how he wanted to teach, but what. When Pierce stepped into his first history class at Cumberland University, he rediscovered his passion for history.

“I took my first history class with [Assistant Professor] Monty Pope. I walked in, I sat down, and he told a story like he’d been there,” said Pierce. “He didn’t present history as dates and facts; he presented it as if we were living in that moment. From then on, I was hooked.”

Today, Pierce is a senior Cumberland student, pursuing a B.A. degree with an Emphasis in Education with secondary History Teacher Licensure. Specializing in early American history, Pierce hopes to illustrate the past for his future students with the same skill as his current professors.

Pierce also hopes to serve students as a future administrator. Having seen the difference Cumberland’s personal attention made in his life, Pierce hopes to eventually open a school for students with disabilities.

“I feel that I’m called to give students with disabilities a place where they can go and feel normal. Like all students, they need educational opportunities and to know and meet standards,” said Pierce. “Once the students find out they want, they’ll do anything to reach that goal. It’s the job of teachers to help students discover their passions.”

Having found his own passion as a teacher and a leader at Cumberland, Pierce may be just the man for that job.