Published on September 1, 2020 by Kristen Padilla  
Robinson Shannon
Cokiesha Bailey Robinson (left) and Shawn Shannon (right)

Two Beeson Divinity School alumnae were chosen as the recipients of the 2020 Alumni of the Year awards for their service and ministry to the Lord. They were chosen by the Beeson Divinity School Alumni Advisory Board in conjunction with Dean Douglas Sweeney. 

Master of Divinity Distinguished Alumni Award
Rev. Cokiesha Bailey Robinson (M.Div. ’08), the 2020 Master of Divinity Distinguished Alumni Award winner, is associate dean of student diversity and inclusion at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana. She has been an ordained minister of the gospel since 2011, having served on a number of church staffs and as the founder of Cross Spring Ministries. Robinson is a member of the Beeson Advisory Board and is married to Rev. Timothy Robinson, also a graduate of Beeson Divinity. 

“Even though Cokiesha and I studied at Beeson at different times and did not know each other personally, the first time I met her as a member of our advisory board, she treated me like an old friend,” said Sherri Brown, Beeson’s admission and alumni director. “That is the very nature and heart of Cokiesha’s ministry; whether preaching or teaching or pastoring someone through a difficult time, her very presence exudes the love of Christ and the powerful encouragement of the gospel.” 

Robinson said she is thankful and honored to receive this award at this time. “God has provided good news in a bad time,” she said. “The pandemic has taken so much but God has given so much.” 

“At Beeson I was deeply affirmed in my calling as a woman in ministry and as an African American minister,” Robinson said. “Most of all, I was affirmed at Beeson for my existence. They looked beyond my pedigree, gender, denominational affiliation, name and calling, which are all important to me, but they also saw me—who I was and who I could become. To date, I believe Beeson is still concerned about who we are becoming.” 

Listen to Robinson talk about her calling, ministry and Beeson experience on the Beeson podcast.

Doctor of Ministry Distinguished Alumni Award
Shawn Shannon (D.Min. ‘09), the 2020 Doctor of Ministry Distinguished Alumni award winner, is the minister of spiritual formation at Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. Prior to her role at Tallowood Baptist, Shannon served as a college minister on university campuses for 40 years, her last place of service being at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas, as the director of the Baptist Student Ministry for 19 years. 

“Shawn is an extraordinary friend, minister, and disciple of Jesus,” said Renee Pitts, Beeson alumna and Alumni Advisory Board member. “During her years of faithful service as a campus minister, she has been a spiritual mother, sister and mentor to many and has pointed them exclusively toward the life and light of our risen Savior. She is passionately committed to helping individuals and groups go deeper into the presence of Christ in their daily lives.” 

Shannon said that while she was a student in the D.Min. program, she appreciated the opportunity to develop relationships with those outside her denomination. 

“This encouraged ‘courteous curiosity’ about other types of disciples, denominations and congregations,” she said. “Beeson celebrates a certain largeness of heart about the long, deep and wide of the Body of Christ.” 

Shannon, who wrote her D.Min. project on the spiritual formation of campus ministers, added that the academic discipline she found at Beeson “forced me to find words for practices of spiritual formation, making these things more portable and available in my own life and service to others.” 

Listen to Shannon discuss her faith, ministry, and doctoral project on Sept. 15 on the Beeson podcast. 

“We are very proud of Cokiesha and Shawn and God’s good work in their lives. They represent the best of Beeson: committed disciples of Jesus Christ, faithful expositors of Scripture, and devoted to Christ’s church,” said Beeson’s dean, Douglas Sweeney. “We look forward to celebrating and honoring them in several ways over the course of this year.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.