Jackson McDowell’s life hasn’t always followed a perfect script, but that hasn’t stopped him from believing that God is actively directing his story.

As he approaches his senior year at Montreat College, McDowell is interning at Matthews Christian Library. Located near his home in Charlotte’s southeastern suburb of Matthews, the library provides McDowell with an opportunity to combine his previous experience through the work-study program at the L. Nelson Bell Library on campus with his videography skills.

“It’s kind of an unlikely combination, but it’s something that I think came from God and is helping me with my future,” McDowell said in a recent interview.

A part of the Child Development Campus of Christ Our Shepherd Ministries, the Matthews Christian Library provides a wide variety of materials and resources for families. As a staff member, McDowell assists with various projects throughout the library, but his primary task this summer is to produce a video commemorating the library’s 25th anniversary.

For McDowell, his education at Montreat College has adequately prepared him for success in his internship.

“In my time at Montreat, I’ve gotten used to working hard in my classes, so that builds a strong work ethic,” he noted. “My videography classes have also helped me gain experience to get ready for making a video like this. Aside from the videography, my job at the library at Montreat has really helped out as well.”

Like a second take in film production, McDowell’s journey at Montreat College has experienced a series of unexpected twists and turns. After one semester on campus during his freshman year, he completed his spring semester online in an attempt to get his epilepsy under control. He then was forced to take a break from Fall 2021 through all of 2022 for extensive testing, brain surgery, and recovery. When he returned in the spring of 2023, he switched his focus from audio production to majoring in communication and digital media.

“I decided to switch to communication because I had to take some music business classes, and it was like speaking a different language to me,” he admitted.

Despite these detours, McDowell never doubted that Montreat College was the right place for his education. He learned about Montreat from his pediatrician, whose two sons attended the college. The mountain setting of campus sealed the deal from there.

“I really enjoyed mountain trips when I was in Boy Scouts, and Montreat was in the mountains. That was the main thing, and it’s a small campus, which I like,” he said. “It was very easy to meet new people and get along with them, and I think that’s true for most people here. The professors at Montreat are always there to help the students succeed.”

In addition, McDowell loves that Montreat College has provided a place where his faith in God can grow.

“I wanted to attend a Christian institution because I didn’t want my roommates to be guys who didn’t know God,” he said. “College is that middle stage in life where you have the freedom that you get as an adult, but you don’t have as many responsibilities as you do when you get older. Lots of students lose their faith during college, but Montreat has dramatically strengthened my faith. It’s a place where I can practice my faith and go after the degree of my dreams. Montreat is a very important place for anyone God is calling to come here.”

Outside the classroom, McDowell volunteers with the AV crew at his local church and participates in a Bible study group for college students. He also enjoys playing the drums and visiting the bowling lanes in an attempt to break his top score of 203. Additionally, he was an inaugural member of Montreat College’s clay target shooting team and is considering returning to the program in his final year.

“It’s very rewarding because I’ve gotten a lot better at shooting, and I’ve met some very good people along the way,” he reflected.

While his focus this summer remains on completing his internship duties and enjoying his final year at Montreat College, McDowell knows that his story is still being shaped, and he’s prepared to embrace whatever experiences come his way.

“Lots of people have told me I would be a good director,” he said, “but right now, I’m content to be a very behind-the-scenes kind of guy. We’ll see where God takes me down the road.”