Published on August 23, 2023 by Dakota Rice  
Nathan Barham DR08182023721

Nathan Barham ’23 knows firsthand how formative the Samford experience is for students’ futures. Growing up in Madison, Mississippi, Barham was told by his father that he was responsible for paying for his college education. After playing football for a community college for two years, Barham was seeking guidance on how to finish his bachelor’s degree.

“I remember praying on my stepdad’s RV lot where I worked, and the Lord opened a door through a coach at Samford to continue both my education and football,” Barham said. “I transferred my junior year. I made unbelievable friends on campus and found myself in a place where not only did I have amazing friends, but I also had graceful and merciful professors.”

During Barham’s senior year, he entered his name into the transfer portal thinking he was going to continue playing football. Barham received a few offers, but he didn’t feel a peace about any of them.

“I went to Sheri in the One Stop office and expressed my anxiety about the future,” shared Barham. “She suggested the Master of Business Administration program, but I came from health sciences. She encouraged me to continue my studies and figure out my passions.”  

That night Barham went into work at Fleming’s steakhouse where he bonded with a customer over a mutual love of golf. During the conversation, this customer asked why Barham was in Birmingham. Barham told him that he played football at Samford and was about to graduate, explaining that he was trying to figure out his future plans.

“His wife started pointing at him while I was talking,” said Barham. “I didn’t know why until he revealed that his name was Chad Carson and that he’s the dean of Brock School of Business.”

Carson met with Barham after connecting that night to discuss the M.B.A. program. After the meeting Barham said he left a bit discouraged because he couldn’t afford the tuition. After a few weeks, Barham emailed the dean and asked if there were any scholarships available. Carson shared that a new opportunity was created in the Division of Advancement and Marketing as a university advancement fellow and he thought that he might be a great fit. Barham interviewed and was selected for the inaugural role. 

This new fellowship is a two-year program for recent Samford graduates like Barham who are also pursuing a graduate degree at the university. Fellows will participate in a comprehensive introduction to the fundraising profession, guided by advancement leadership. Their main objective is to work alongside advancement colleagues to increase engagement with Samford’s alumni, donors, volunteers and friends.

Betsy Holloway, vice president for advancement and marketing, is optimistic about how this new program will serve Samford alumni. “We are thrilled to have Nathan serving in this new role,” shared Holloway. “As a recent graduate and former Samford student-athlete, I know our alumni and friends will enjoy connecting with Nathan, and this experience will provide him a wonderful opportunity to be introduced to the fundraising and advancement profession.”

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.