Motivating and Mentoring

Dr. Colene Trent, Associate Professor of Economics at Union University

Union University’s Dr. Colene Trent has travelled a unique path to her current position as an Associate Professor of Economics. She describes her early years as “an only child in a lower-middle-class family.” At times her family struggled with money management – something that would inform her entire life and her current approach to her discipline. But as the family faced financial challenges, Colene’s parents also encouraged her to do well in school, and Trent met that challenge head-on. She remembers her involvement in extra-curricular activities that would also impact her future: “I competed in 4-H public speaking competitions when I was younger.” Additionally, she recalls winning the state social studies fair for a project on the economy in fourth grade.

There were more contests and opportunities down the road. Trent was a two-time runner-up to Miss Alabama and a five-time local titleholder in the Miss Alabama Scholarship Pageant. The competitions may have been heady stuff for the young lady, but her head was certainly not in the clouds. During those years of competition in the Miss Alabama pageant, Trent received over $50,000 in college scholarships – money she used to obtain her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance and Economics and her Master of Business Administration degree from the University of North Alabama. While working on her Master’s degree, her professors encouraged her to pursue a Ph.D. in economics, and she accepted the challenge. Those were some tough years, she confesses. As she pursued that final degree, she also experienced some of “the highest of the highs and lowest of the lows,” the life of the future college prof was filled with “anxiety, depression, and panic attacks.” It wasn’t easy, but, with love and support she soon found herself on the other side of those challenging and tumultuous days, with a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Mississippi and a job offer to teach at Union University.

Trent admits that while she had heard of Union University, she didn’t know much about it. Now at Union for ten years, Dr. Trent teaches a host of classes: Principle of Microeconomics, Managerial Economics and International Economics, with her favorite being Personal Financial Management. Perhaps it has something to do with her first-hand experience of “the stress on a family that financial worries can bring,” as she commented to students during a spring chapel talk. Whatever the reason, she has found her passion and believes she has a unique opportunity – and personal gift – to teach financial stewardship to students. In a larger sense, she notes that she is passionate about motivating students to actually enjoy the study of economics. Motivation has long been a calling card and concern: “I always thought that I would be involved in motivational speaking and mentoring about decisions.” She thought right. Her students will attest to that.

In addition to her professorial duties, Trent volunteers and mentors with the Miss America Organization as the Executive Director for Miss Tennessee.

With a smile in her voice, Dr. Colene Trent mentions the joys of her life and the family she cherishes: her husband David who serves as a worship leader/pastor at Englewood Baptist Church, and her two young children.