The most impactful moments in our lives guide the trajectory of our futures. How we decide to respond to adversity works either for our detriment or for our gain. Brandy Chalmers, ACU assistant professor and program director for the B.S. in Child and Family Services as well as the B.S. in Integrated Studies is a perfect example of this. She transformed the pain of her childhood to a personal path of healing and faith that is touching the lives of students through her experiences and leadership each day. Learn how the Lord took what Brandy calls a “mess” and created a “message” to share with her classroom and clients alike.
Finding Her Calling
Brandy grew up in North Carolina and faced many trials throughout childhood. As a kid, Brandy didn’t have a relationship with the Lord and came to find Him in her teenage years after losing her father to suicide at the age of 15. During the grieving process of losing her dad, Brandy started going to counseling where she quickly made a connection with her therapist. She saw first-hand the influence her therapist had on her story of healing and wanted to make that same difference for others experiencing struggles within their families, communities, or within themselves.
After high school, Brandy made her way to Abilene, TX where she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in clinical mental health counseling from Hardin-Simmons University. Shortly after graduating, Brandy became 1 of 3 registered play therapists in Abilene making her a respected thought-leader in the area. In 2020, Brandy joined the ACU faculty as an adjunct professor for the therapeutic play course within their child and family services degree program.
Opportunities in Online Learning
After living in Abilene for 10 years and teaching on campus, Brandy and her husband Randy moved to South Carolina where she transitioned to teaching at ACU Online. After working remotely for two years as an adjunct, Brandy was promoted to program director in 2022 and enjoys seeing how accessible online learning can be. Brandy sees the ability for her program to reach a broad demographic, meet the financial needs of families, and produce informed professionals who create meaningful connections and investments with others. An added benefit to reaching more people is the capacity for students to interact with each other. “I’ll have a student fresh out of high school who has the opportunity to talk to another student with a full-time job and a family,” Brandy explained. “Because of online learning our students are able to connect with other generations unlike they have before.”
Establishing Trust in The Classroom
Being available to her students is Brandy’s main goal. She believes the individuals in her program are committed and passionate about the careers they are pursuing, making her job easy. “I enjoy teaching undergraduate students in particular,” Brandy explained. “The stage of life they’re in requires impactful and meaningful educators who are pivotal to their careers.”
Her greatest win is when others feel comfortable enough to come to her when they’re struggling or need guidance in their own lives. As program director, Brandy has developed a community within her classrooms built on student and faculty trust. “It’s important to view my students from a holistic approach.” She continued, “I want them to know that I care about them as humans and view them not just as students but future colleagues since we’ll eventually be in the same field.”
One of the biggest benefits that Brandy has seen through her program is the foundation that the courses give students no matter what their vocational journey might be. Because child and family services is rooted in psychology, they can apply what they learn to almost any field they choose. It’s not lost on Brandy that working in this field has parallels to the life that Jesus lived. “He was the ultimate counselor,” Brandy reflected. “Within this program, we are encouraging and building genuine relationships within our communities just as Christ did.”
Advocating for Hope
Outside of ACU, Brandy has her own part-time private practice where she counsels young adults, couples and families through online sessions. Her practice has provided a source of insight for ACU students because they have access to leaders actively in the field, working on real-world case studies. Brandy expressed, “I love being in practice and walking alongside clients as they endure hardships and celebrate triumphs.” Brandy went on, “When something happens, we can either crack like an egg or bounce back even higher like a tennis ball.” She realizes that because of the experience she has personally and professionally, “I’m able to help others find resiliency through my clinical work and then bring that knowledge into my ACU curriculum.”
Brandy spends her free time with her husband and 5-year-old son Grayson who she calls her “miracle baby.” She loves giving back to her community and is passionate about advocating for suicide prevention and awareness. Brandy has made big waves in schools and educational experiences as she brings hope to individuals through her story and service.
Do you desire to make a difference in the lives of others like Brandy? Visit acu.edu/online or contact us at 855-219-7300 today to learn about our online programs.