Prioritizing Service and Embracing Mentorship

02/19/2024 Alumni Spotlight

As a student, Dustin West served as Ko Sari’s treasurer and later, president in his senior year. He was involved in CAB and MSG, gaining valuable experience in servant leadership, and a member of the track team his freshman year, contributing to a conference championship. His experiences in those activities laid the foundation for his future involvement in various boards and committees in the Abilene area, as well as shaped his passions and, later, his career in higher education. 

During his junior and senior years at McMurry, West responded to the call from the Religious Life Department to share his experiences at churches within the United Methodist Northwest Conference, which provided his initial exposure to recruiting, an experience he’d found enjoyable. Originally pursuing Pre-Med, West realized that path didn’t align with his personal goals and so switched to majoring in History with a minor in Business. West intended on pursuing a career in the tourism/museum sector, however, an opportunity to recruit at McMurry on the Admissions team arose after graduation, prompting him to seize the chance to share his positive experiences with high school students. He credits his history professors, particularly Drs. Frazier, Wetteman, Shanafelt, and Hardin, for their invaluable guidance and mentorship, which shaped his ability to advise and lead effectively as he began to pursue a career in higher education. 

West recruited fledgling War Hawks in Abilene and the Big Country area until a local non-profit, the Abilene Education Foundation, had an opportunity to work in their College Readiness Program called the C.O.O.L. program, where he assisted low-income, first-generation Abilene ISD students with gaining admission to various colleges locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally. This experience inspired him to continue supporting such students as the TRIO Upward Bound Director, guiding students toward success in both the community and the broader world. Immediately after working in TRIO, West worked a few years for a different university in Abilene in financial aid, specifically as an endowed scholarship specialist in financial aid facilitating the allocation of millions of dollars in donated funds to eligible students. 

For West, the most rewarding aspect of his job in financial aid is, undoubtedly, the students. He discovered a deep sense of purpose in advocating for and guiding them through their educational journey. The many meaningful connections with students bring West profound fulfillment and reinforce his sense of purpose in his work. During moments of overwhelm, he finds solace in reading thank-you notes from former students to help recenter his focus and reinforce his motivation. 

I was so hesitant to start a career that I did not study.” West says, “I even planned on it being temporary and then I would continue my plan after working a year or two at McMurry. The skills I learned during my time at McMurry prepared me for so much more than to just be a historian or a business associate. It prepared me to be a servant to those who need the guidance to achieve their dreams. Sometimes God will open a door for you that turns into one of the biggest blessings in your life.” 

To McMurry students or the vast alumni community aspiring to follow a similar career, West encourages that you embrace unexpected opportunities, be receptive to guidance from faculty and staff, and above all, approach your work with a spirit of service and compassion. West’s story serves as a reminder that the most rewarding careers often stem from a willingness to venture beyond one’s comfort zone and embrace the unexpected opportunities that lie ahead of you. 


Do you or an alum you know have a great post-McMurry story? We’d love to feature YOU! Contact the Alumni Office at to schedule an interview.