Five-year program student learns to live more like Jesus while at TBC, SWBTS

20231020 Preview Day 1412 (1)

In college, many students learn practical knowledge for their trade or they prepare for further study by being introduced to different subjects. Samuel Ibarra, simultaneously enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies at Texas Baptist College (TBC) and Master of Divinity at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is learning how to live more like Jesus through the way the Word is taught in all his classes.

Ibarra grew up in a traditional Christian home in Grand Prairie, Texas, where his family was regularly involved at Crossroads Christian Church in Grand Prairie. He was homeschooled along with his younger brother and sister, which led him to want to know more about salvation at a young age.

“I was six years old when I came to Christ,” Ibarra said. “I remember that it was a Sunday or Wednesday night, and some people were talking about baptism. It sounded fun to me to get in water, but then I learned more about it. My parents later explained the Gospel to me and I accepted Christ that day.”

Throughout his high school years, Ibarra began to feel called to serve the Lord through ministry. On the advice of his youth minister, Ibarra decided to look into schools that had a strong theological base and where he could take dual-credit classes while still in high school. TBC became a clear choice, he explained.

“I did some dual-credit classes prior to being an undergrad student here and I was able to take a few classes to get a feel of the school,” Ibarra said. “I got to know professors pretty well and I got to know a few of my classmates pretty well through it.”

Ibarra said that taking the dual-credit classes ultimately led him to continue going to TBC by fully enrolling as a student after he graduated high school. He said one of the main reasons he chose TBC was because of how “evident it was that the school is Christ-centered” and focused on students.

“One thing that really drew me in was how we always prayed before a class would start,” Ibarra said. “Every class was Scripture-based, and I was confident that this was the right school from that first class when we opened in prayer. It was so genuine and that gave me confidence.”

Sam Ibarra, a native of Grand Prairie, Texas, is a student in the 5-year program at Texas Baptist College and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The program allows students to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years. Ibarra is active on the Southwestern campus, including singing and playing guitar in Student Life’s monthly Coffee and Music Nights.

Since being at TBC, Ibarra has been able to learn many things throughout his first three semesters in college. He considers listening before engaging to be the most important thing he has learned.

“I think the things I have learned most in my classes is how to listen to someone’s perspective or their entire thought before really stepping into the conversation,” Ibarra said. “I have found out that the best way to engage with others is to first be genuine and listen to them and show Christ through your actions, then begin the conversation. It’s always amazing to get to know a person and then not feel stress when talking about your opinions.”

Through his classes at Texas Baptist College and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Sam Ibarra said he is learning to live more like the Lord Jesus through the way the Scripture is taught in all of his classes.

Outside of learning how to relate to others in a Christlike way, Ibarra has learned more about different areas within Christian studies as well. While he said there are many classes he could choose from, his evangelism and Old Testament classes are two that stand as the most “impactful” for him during his first three semesters.

“Evangelism got me out of my comfort zone a little bit, but Old Testament brought me a new perspective on the Old Testament and it gave me a new love for it,” Ibarra explained.

Ibarra is part of the 5-year program that allows students to pursue both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree at the same time. Through this program, Ibarra wants to pursue a calling in full-time ministry.

“My plans are to be in a church and begin shepherding or assisting to shepherd a church by working in youth ministry while I’m here,” Ibarra said. “It’s my passion to be part of the church ministry and to help teach others. I’m doing the 5-year program to help follow that calling on my life.”

Intramural sports, Student Life events, and engaging in a community of peers are activities he cited as important to his college experience. Ibarra said that he tries to be a part of “all of the events” while in college.

“It’s an opportunity that I know cannot be wasted while I’m here,” Ibarra said. “I do participate in intramurals like soccer and football, but I also love going to Student Life events and to see new and old faces each time I go. It’s so good to be engaged in community and catch up with those you love to be around.”

For high school students considering TBC, or who may not even have the school on their list of schools, Ibarra said that “it is important to go to the Lord” when thinking about where to go to college.

“It’s always good to talk to family and friends to see what you believe that the Lord is calling you to do,” Ibarra said. “Whether or not you are called into ministry, TBC is a great place to consider to go. I would encourage anyone who is able to take a couple of dual-credit classes in high school so that they can experience campus a bit and I think they will fall in love with the school like I did.”

Ibarra is currently on pace to graduate in 2027 with both his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Divinity. While he is in school at TBC and Southwestern Seminary, he said he is going to “follow God’s calling” on his life and continue to pursue a life in ministry.