My UM Story: Leslie Bryan ’09 &’15

My mother, Benita West, graduated from Mobile College in 1982 and has always spoken highly of the school. As a local resident of Saraland, Alabama, growing up I truly did not understand what a gem we had right here in our back yard. As I was getting ready to graduate high school from Faith Academy in 2005, my parents suggested I stay local for two years before making a major move; it was then my journey at the University of Mobile began.

As my junior year approached, I decided to transfer to Auburn University where my high school sweetheart, who was my fiancé at the time, was majoring in building science. I transferred and my first semester was accepted into the education department at Auburn. We were soon married over spring break. Little did I know that 2 ½ months later a tragedy would happen which would change the trajectory of my life.

Justin Bedsole, my husband, and my brother, Allen West, were killed in a car accident in May of 2008. My future and plans hit a wall; however, God was not taken by surprise. Our home church, Pathway, and our community (this community where UM is located) rallied around us with open arms and, most of all, lifted our family up in prayer.

I knew in such a time of grief I needed my family and to be near a strong support. I needed a Christian atmosphere in every way. I soon found myself back in the School of Education at the University of Mobile, working out the ways and credits to transfer back.

I will never be able to put into words my appreciation for the staff at the University of Mobile. We soon mapped out a plan to make up the summer I took off, in order to continue and finish my degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. I took a hefty load of classes that fall and spring, along with student teaching, and was able to walk and graduate in 2009.

I returned to UM to pursue a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling where again I was taken aback by the amazing professors who care so much about their students. In a world where biblical truth is not taught and confusion seems to be the goal of many universities, I can say without a doubt that teaching real-life applications while keeping Christ center is the core of the University of Mobile.

I later remarried and had to temporarily relocate with my husband to Fort Rucker for Army flight school. Once completed, we returned to our hometown of Saraland and my husband deployed to Iraq. Again, I walked back in the doors of UM to obtain information on how I could complete my master’s and left with a full semester of classes. I completed soon after my husband returned and right before the birth of our first son, Asher, in 2015.

As life and family dynamics have changed, I soon realized my desire to continue and learn about what my father, Gary West, invested and worked so hard for. I now work in our family business of construction and own and operate Ashton and Company, an industrial, woman-owned, union business servicing power plants across multiple states.

I realize this career path may seem far from the path of education and counseling, however, I utilize the tools and skills I learned inside the walls of the University of Mobile every day. From working as a team, to teaching and coaching the next generations, to planning, listening, and customer service, I am better in every area for having been a student/alumna of this amazing school.

My husband, Blake Bryan, now works with our family business. We have two young children, Asher and Abigail, who I hope will consider being a Ram one day. We are thankful for the past, the present and the future of this school.

About the Author

Leslie Bryan