Liberty News

First Champion Award goes to student who displayed joy, service through loss

October 9, 2017 : Liberty University News Service

When Liberty University senior Emily Hensler first came to Liberty University from the West Coast, she admits that she came believing that God had brought her to campus to use her talents.

“I quickly found that God didn’t bring me here to show me how great I am, but to show how great He was — and still is,” she reflected in a video shown during the Champion Award presentation at Monday’s Convocation.

Liberty Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development David Nasser presented Hensler with the award, which highlights faculty, staff, and students who embody what it means to live like a Champion for Christ. Hensler was honored for her hard work, service, and dedication to the Lord even as she faced hardships — working multiple jobs to afford school and dealing with the pain of her father’s death.

Nasser said that over the summer, Hensler displayed her character to him when she reached out asking for help in finding a church while she worked at a prestigious internship in Phoenix, Ariz.

“She just dove right in,” Nasser said. “I love that about her — she knows that she is a part of the body of Christ. Even when she was in Phoenix, she didn’t just go there to try to elevate her position … she went, found a local church … rolled up her sleeves and served in that local context.”

Throughout her time at Liberty, Hensler — who will earn her degree in business administration with a specialization in economics in December — has remained active in many areas. She has served as president of Liberty’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom and has organized numerous campus lectures, bringing guests such as Dinesh D’Souza, Star Parker, Steve Forbes, and Judge Jeanine Pirro to Liberty. Hensler was also instrumental in organizing the 9/11 Never Forget Project and Freedom Week on campus. She was voted “Top Student Activist of the Year” by the Young America’s Foundation at CPAC 2016. She has also ministered to fellow students as a Resident Shepherd with the Office of Spiritual Development.

In March 2016, she received a call that her father had died unexpectedly. Through that season of grief, Liberty’s community, led by its LU Shepherds and campus pastors, rallied around her to offer support. Liberty even covered her travel expenses to go home when administration learned she could not afford it.

“In that moment of absolute uncertainty, the only thing that was certain to me was the fact that God is still good and that God had me at Liberty University for this specific reason,” Hensler said. “They supported me and loved me so much during that time.”

Several LU Shepherds praised Hensler’s Christlike attitude, her overall positivity, and her drive to share God’s love with others.

“There’s just something about Emily. I knew from the first time I met her that she has a really sweet spirit,” Director of LU Shepherds Tim Griffin said. “She’s definitely a young lady who has God at the center of what she’s doing.”

The Champion Award seeks to recognize those in Liberty’s community who demonstrate champion-like characteristics and the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control), which are at the heart of both Liberty’s mission and the We The Champions project. Throughout the academic year, students, faculty, and staff will have the opportunity to nominate someone they feel is living out the character traits of a champion. One individual will receive The Champion Award each month, presented by Nasser at Convocation. The award recipient will also be highlighted on the We The Champions website. One of the nine Champion Award winners will be selected for an overall award presented during Commencement in May.

To nominate a Liberty student, faculty, or staff member for the Champion Award, email their name and story to or fill out the online form on the We The Champions webpage.