MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Aug. 2, 2005 – In many ways, Josh Hays is a typical teenager.
He likes to spend time with his family and friends. He loves water sports and music, and he leads worship for his church’s youth group at Northside Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
But not every teenager gets a perfect score on the SAT. Hays did.
“I knew that I had done well,” Hays said. “I had taken the ACT before and got a 35 on it, so I knew I was going to have a strong score. But no, a perfect score, that is not what I was thinking coming out of there.”
Later this month, Hays will become the first Union University student with a perfect SAT score. He could have gone to college anywhere in the country – Harvard, Yale, Stanford – but he chose Union.
In fact, Union was the only place he sent his SAT scores.
“I’ve felt for a while now that I’m called to some type of Christian ministry,” Hays said. “I don’t know the specifics of that – pastor, youth pastor, Christian teaching. It could go a lot of different ways. But I definitely want to do something as a full-time Christian vocation.
“As I looked at all the schools, Union just really seemed to have the best program, the most to offer, as far as that field,” he continued. “For what I wanted to do, Union seemed the best.”
Hays said he wanted a college that was serious about Christianity, but also serious about learning in general. Some schools like Harvard and Yale are great institutions of learning, he said, but are lacking when it comes to a Christian atmosphere. Other Christian colleges have that going for them, but are lacking academically.
“Union seemed to have a great balance between the two,” Hays said. “I considered a lot of different options, but Union was the frontrunner the whole time. Ultimately, Union was the only place I applied to.”
A recipient of a Presidential Scholarship at Union that covers all tuition and housing costs for four years, Hays acknowledges God’s hand in his achievements, including his SAT score.
“It truly is something from God,” Hays said. “It’s not something that I’ve done. It’s just a blessing and it’s something God has put there for me to open doors.”
Hays will major in Christian studies at Union, and he’s busy making all the final preparations for his move. His transition will be difficult for the family – parents Tom and Debbie, brother Lucas, 10, and sister Katelynn, 12.
“I think my brother, especially, is not really excited about it,” Hays said. “But he’s kind of finding good parts of it. He’ll come in my room: ‘Are you going to take that with you? Is that going with you? I have a place for it in my room.’”