While Black students have attended, and graduated, from Bethany Lutheran College (BLC) for many decades, it was in 2005 that the first Black graduate earned his bachelor’s degree from Bethany. His name is Jerome Wardlow. Wardlow came to Bethany from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, after being recruited by Art Westphal to join the Vikings basketball program.
“Basketball attracted me to Bethany, but my growth was fostered by many others. There was a moment after a game at Anoka Ramsey Community College when my best effort was not on display. Coach Jeddeloh made me practice alone with an assistant coach for close to an hour. Because of this moment, I know he loves me. Giving your best effort, and not relying on others all the time, was a lesson I needed to learn.”
Growing up, Wardlow mentioned that his environment was, at times, challenging. He specifically acknowledged the mentoring and welcoming environment at Bethany for playing a key role in setting his life and career on a path to success.
“The peaceful environment. I never really had a place prior to Bethany that allowed me to escape the problems that people around me had. When I reflect on my time at Bethany Lutheran College, I think of friends and the people that guided my growth the most.”
Since earning his degree from Bethany, Wardlow has returned to Milwaukee and is now a mentor to youth in the city where grew up. He continued his collegiate education at Rockford College earning his certificate in special education. Wardlow currently teaches at Nathan Hale High School in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District in both special education and English.
As BLC’s first Black bachelor’s graduate, Wardlow helped to pave the way for Bethany’s increasingly diverse student body, and Bethany is proud to be Jerome Wardlow’s alma mater. We wish him continued success mentoring the youth of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.