Everyday Student

Lifesaving Award Certificate of Merit honoree Shane Ryan strives to serve


Shane Ryan, a senior Bible and family ministry major, knew from a young age he wanted to serve. “Growing up, I would really get into sports for a period of time and then transition into playing video games before finding something else that interested me. Then I started to realize that I like God all the time. That didn’t change. So why don’t I make that my career? I knew I wanted to get into ministry, so I was definitely looking at schools that could provide me with Biblical education. Harding was one of the bigger schools that I had heard about, and there also were a lot of ministers I knew that had ties to Harding.” 


From San Diego, a move to Searcy was difficult, but Ryan has found perspective. “It was a tough adjustment for me. Fitting in can be a hard thing to do when you don’t think you have much in common with others. Your differences can really stick out, and that was hard at first. What made it work for me is going back and forth so much from Searcy to San Diego. Within my first year or two, I started to realize that the God I serve is God in Arkansas the same as he is God in California. My identity, my goal, my best friend is exactly the same here as it is when I’m back home.”


In the summer of 2020, Ryan was surfing in LaJolla, California, when he witnessed a man fall from a cliff, screaming as he entered the water and in visible pain as he neared the reef. He immediately paddled over and brought the man to shore where he checked his vitals and coordinated a 911 call. This summer Ryan was honored with the Lifesaving Award Certificate of Merit, one of the highest awards given by the American Red Cross. “Since becoming certified, I feel more responsibility to be aware and to serve. Previously, I may have seen something happening and continued on or hesitated. Now with this ‘badge’ so to speak, it’s my responsibility to act.” Putting others before himself is just part of who Ryan is, as seen through his humility in receiving the award. “I was actually not too stoked to be recognized because it was just something that was my responsibility to do. I feel like I’m so undeserving of it.” Shane became a certified lifeguard by taking Lifeguard Training at Harding and has worked as a lifeguard at the Ganus Activities Complex. 


Harding has helped Ryan determine what he wants to do after graduation, following a year of surfing, of course. “I want to go to grad school and earn a Master of Divinity degree and pursue ministry that would allow me to become a college professor. My major hasn’t changed, but what I wanted to do with it has bounced all over the place. I think I’ve learned and realized what my skills are and what I’m equipped to do. I absolutely love learning about God, studying him and his Word. I love relating with people and walking alongside them. If I can fit all of this into a way to serve God, then sign me up.”        

— Lane Gammel

Categories: Around Campus.


  1. Mary Ryan

    How happy I am to be Shane’s grandma. God is good to me. I know he will be a great value to our world. God bless you Shane Ryan.

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