Dan Windmiller (‘05) was drawn to the mountains of Western North Carolina by his love for climbing and the opportunity to be surrounded by what he loved. Raised in a household that loved God and the outdoors, the Florida native immediately felt a deep connection to Montreat College’s Outdoor Recreation Studies (ORS) program, recognizing it as the perfect path for his journey. 

During his time at Montreat, Windmiller learned about the world around him and developed leadership skills that he would unknowingly use for his career and ministry. He didn’t have to wait long to apply those skills in the real world. Shortly after graduation, former Montreat professor Dave Sperry recommended a unique opportunity: a job with the Black Mountain Home for Children as the Director of Recreation. 

Though this position was not part of his original plan, Windmiller believes his time at Montreat prepared him well for his calling, fondly noting Dr. Dottie Shuman, Jay Guffey, and Dave Sperry as professors and mentors.

“They had a big impact in guiding, directing, and helping me grow academically and professionally,” he said. “The coursework also provided benefits to what I do daily. The logistics of planning and group activities are applied every day in what I do.”  

When he wasn’t in the woods, Windmiller saw his faith flourish through conversations with peers and his Bible and Worldview classes.

“Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I always knew about God, but Montreat presented new views and challenges,” he said. “Without challenge, you won’t experience growth. Slowly, step by step, conversation after conversation, my faith became solidified as my own, not just my parents.” 

During his time at Montreat, Windmiller was active in the community. As a Wilson Scholar, he played a key role in event planning and contributing to the school paper, The Whetstone. Although he admitted that his involvement in campus life challenged his creativity and time management, his participation also fostered lifelong friendships. Windmiller met his best friend during his freshman year, and the two remain close to this day.

“My friends at Montreat have given me the confidence to continue to pursue my career and Christ,” he said.

Since graduation, Windmiller has dedicated himself to serving at the Black Mountain Home for Children, viewing his career as a calling for both himself and his family to glorify God in interactions and the community. Over the course of those 19 years, he has been encouraged by Montreat’s consistent growth in programs and athletics. Overall, he feels a sense of pride that Montreat College is part of his own history, and he hopes that the ORS program continues to be a blessing for today’s students like it was for him.

“Their degree is applicable to all aspects of life,” he emphasized. “There are some wilderness-specific things, but leadership, group dynamics, and facilitation lead to strength in work and relationships later. I didn’t realize at that moment the impact it would have on my relationships and circles.”