Bradley ’22 Finds Faith, Service, and Community at Gustavus

The senior football player and ROTC cadet reflects on his four years at Gustavus Adolphus College.
Posted on November 5th, 2021 by

For many students, college is the start of a new journey, but for Andrew Bradley ’22, Gustavus Adolphus College has been a place of transformative growth, culminating in his baptism in Christ Chapel during the fall of his senior year.

A transfer student from Florida Atlantic University, his love for football is initially what called him to Gustavus. “I was always in a sports event, mostly football,” he said of his childhood. “Organization football, street football, wherever I could find a game.”

But at Gustavus, Bradley hasn’t just found another chance to play his beloved sport; he’s also discovered a special camaraderie among his coaches and teammates. “The coaches will reach out to you, make sure you’re okay, ask if you need help with academics,” said Bradley. “And the team, they’ll come out and support you no matter what situation you’re in.”

Recently, the team proved their support for Bradley when his faith journey at Gustavus led him to be baptized in Christ Chapel. Originally planning to receive the sacrament at a nearby lake, Bradley soon realized that it wouldn’t accommodate the number of Gusties that wanted to attend. The Sunday before his birthday, the Gustavus football team packed into the church to witness his baptism, with his girlfriend Brittney Johnson ’20 at his side and his family joining via FaceTime.

“I called them on FaceTime with 5% battery left. I guess I was on it too much,” he laughed. Thankfully, the call lasted just long enough for his family to witness the ceremony.

Although his family couldn’t be there in person, Bradley still felt “the love that was in the air” from those present. “I know people are busy, so I wasn’t expecting the whole football team to actually show up, but it was great that they showed their support to me. It was the greatest moment that I’ve had so far at Gustavus.”

Bradley’s faith journey at Gustavus began with Johnson, who took him to a Proclaim event the first time they met. Since then, the student-led Christian worship group has supported Bradley in good times and in bad. “My granddad passed my freshman year, and that same night she took me to Proclaim. It was great, being there in the present and knowing that my grandad was in a higher place with the people I love.”

Bradley has been involved with several student organizations during his four years, including Pharaohs of the Future, which fosters community among Black male students at Gustavus. Whether it’s volunteering in the community or playing a game of basketball, the group promotes a sense of brotherhood and helps its members thrive at Gustavus.

For Bradley, having a strong sense of community was important, especially when making the big leap from Miami to Saint Peter. His first year at Gustavus took some adjusting, as he learned to balance sports with academics, but it also came with exciting firsts, like seeing snow for the first time. “It looked exactly like on TV or cartoons,” he remembered. “I was super amazed.”

Bradley started as a computer science major, but through exploring the liberal arts at Gustavus, he’s now majoring in history, a subject which he says prompts interesting and necessary discussions about the past. “History does repeat itself, and it leads to different debates and different arguments. I’m not an argumentative person, but I like hearing other people’s feedback on history.”

Bradley doesn’t just study history, however. As a member of ROTC and the National Guard, he has already participated in events that will make history. Not even two hours into his first day of National Guard training, he was whisked away to Washington, D.C. on a C-130 military plane in response to the Jan. 6 riot. Though trying at times, the experience was an important opportunity to interact with service members from across the country, as well as see how national operations are carried out.

After graduation, Bradley hopes to build his career in the Army. But for now, he’s using his senior year to continue his ROTC training, mentor first-year football players, and reflect on the experiences he’s had at Gustavus.

“I’ll miss the environment here, once I get out into the real world,” he said. “I think that’s what pushed me to join different organizations, just to have a good time and make sure I’m having the necessary experience of being in college. I could just go to school, go to work, go to practice, and repeat all that. But I wanted to do more and have that connection with others. Maybe one day that connection can lead to opportunities in the future.”

 

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