University of the Cumberlands recently hosted their first convocation of the semester featuring Dr. Joe Martin, an award-winning international speaker, author, and educator, as the keynote speaker.

Martin opened his first business at age 22 and his second when he was 26. At age 24, he became the youngest tenured faculty member to teach at a state university in Florida. He currently produces one of the country’s top podcasts for Christian men.

Cumberlands was the first college campus Martin had visited where he could openly express his love for God, a message which appeared to resonate with the student body. Martin led his speech by reciting the poem “Not Like Most.” He passionately talked about all the ways God saw him through his darkest moments and brought him to where he is now. He encouraged the college students to find and use their unique gifts to serve God.

“Each and every one of you has a gift that I don’t have,” said Martin. “If you don’t use your gifts, then you’re robbing the world.” 

Dr. Larry L. Cockrum, President of the University, presented two Cumberlands alumni, Robert Day and David Emmert, who founded the campus ministry program Mountain Outreach in 1982, with a service award.

Mountain Outreach began after Day and Emmert witnessed the hardships that poverty-stricken residents in Appalachia faced daily, such as lack of electricity and running water. The young men recruited 20 more student volunteers to help with home construction projects and persuaded local contractors to donate expertise and material.

By the time Day and Emmert graduated in 1984, they had helped construct nine homes. Thirty-nine years later, Mountain Outreach has now led the construction of 151 homes, built countless wells and handicap ramps, and collected and distributed clothing and other items to residents throughout the community. Mountain Outreach also hosts annual Gift Days shortly before Christmas, where registered families receive food for the holidays and toys to give their children for Christmas.

Day is a child welfare advocate and the CEO of Patrick Henry Family Services, a non-profit organization that provides services to children and families at risk. He holds a master’s degree in social work and a Master’s of Divinity. Emmert is the lead pastor at Celebration Baptist Church in Tallahassee, FL and also holds a Master's of Divinity. Emmert and his church are still regularly involved with Mountain Outreach. 

Convocation was held in the O. Wayne Rollins Center on campus. Anne Russel, a senior at Cumberlands, opened the event with prayer and an original song.  Jaclyn Jewel, another senior, closed the program with a song and prayer.