Joe Varner '11 was awarded the Pepper and Stuart Laughon
Commitment to Community Award in 2010.
“I was anxious to see how I would like Randolph-Macon and how it would like me,
but I grew fond of the college very quickly,” says Joe Varner ’11.
His pre-college jitters quickly gave way as he got involved in campus activities.
The Farmville, Virginia native is a member of the
Kappa Alpha Order, Habitat for Humanity and the
United Methodist Student Fellowship group. And that’s just the beginning.
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Varner, a religious studies major
with minors in music and
ethics, was drawn to R-MC for its religious studies program and close-knit
atmosphere. “I am here primarily because of the
A. Purnell Bailey Scholarship,” he says. “The admissions office sent me
information about the scholarship after they learned about my call to the ministry.
The program seemed like a perfect fit.”
Varner has been interested in religion for most of his life. “I have always wanted
to learn more about my own religious traditions as well as the religions of other
people and cultures,” he says. “All of my professors from the religious studies
department have been great, but Dr. Timothy Brown is someone from whom I have learned
a great deal, in classes ranging from Buddhism to Religion and Literature.”
Asked what inspired him to choose his minors, Varner is reflective. “I am still
figuring out why I am pursuing a music minor, but I guess that’s the beauty of a
liberal arts education,” he says. “The ethics minor fits me because I spend a lot
of time thinking, particularly about right and wrong actions and how we ought to
live as humans, or more specifically, as Christians.”
Varner is a third-year Orientation Leader, which means that he has had the opportunity
to, as he puts it, “walk with new students through both victories and struggles
in academics and social life.” He has empathy for students who may feel anxious
when they first set foot on campus. “I will never forget how awkward I felt as a
new student,” he explains. “I try and take the edge off of the transition for new
In 2010, the Italian landscape formed the backdrop to R-MC’s
Heritage of Christianity course, one of the college’s popular J-term travel
offerings. Varner and his classmates, along with Chaplain Darrell Headrick and Senior
Associate Dean of Students Kathryn Hull, visited Venice, Florence, Assisi and Rome.
“The trip was amazing in an academic and a spiritual sense,” says Varner. “Visiting
Michelangelo’s David and learning about St. Francis made profound impacts on my
2010 was a stellar year for Varner, who received the Pepper and Stuart Laughon Commitment
to Community Award, which is given to a student who has made significant contributions
to enrich the lives of others. He was also awarded the Man of Vision Award, which
honors students who contribute to advancing healthy, respectful relationships between
men and women on campus, and who demonstrate leadership, vitality and integrity.
“My father is a 1978 graduate of R-MC,” says Varner. “Both of my parents are excellent
role models and I am extremely blessed,” he says. “My dad is one of the most important
people in my life. I really enjoyed visiting R-MC with him while I was looking at
colleges, and knowing how much he enjoyed his time here has really contributed to
how much I love being here.”
Varner’s post-R-MC plans will allow him to continue his commitment to religious
studies. “After graduation I will attend seminary to earn a Master of Divinity and
become an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church,” he says. “I want to let
the good Lord put me to use and I pray that in doing so I can give back to all those
I have to thank for helping me out along the way, especially Randolph-Macon.”
For information on R-MC’s religious studies program, visit
For information on R-MC’s music program, visit http://www.rmc.edu/academics/music.aspx
For information on R-MC’s ethics program, visit http://www.rmc.edu/academics/ethics.aspx
For information about the A. Purnell Bailey Scholarship Program, visit
For more information about the breadth of programs and opportunities available at
Randolph-Macon or to schedule a campus visit, contact our Admissions Office at (800)
888-1762 or at email@example.com.