Admissions Counselors

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meet your admissions counselor

Your admissions counselor is here to help you learn what SBU has to offer, navigate the admissions and financial aid processes, and answer any questions you might have. Use the map below to meet your SBU admissions counselor!


International Students

Transfer Students

Becky Van Stavern

Director of Undergraduate Admissions

Becky Van Stavern, Director of Undergraduate Admissions

Recruiting Territory: Freshman International Students
Call: (417) 328-1815
Twitter: @SBU_Becky

What SBU means to me: SBU is an amazing family of Christians serving each other with our own unique gifts and talents. Our students are such an important part of that family. Being in this Christ-centered family encourages me to remain focused on my relationship with Christ.

Tips for success in your first year at SBU: Use the resources provided for you at SBU! We all want our students to succeed and will do whatever we can to help them achieve success. Most importantly, remember Philippians 4:13.



Courtney Toler

Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions

Courtney Toler, Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions

Call: (417) 328-1817
Twitter: @SBU_Courtney

What SBU means to me: SBU means home to me! This is where I met my husband and so many lifelong friends. This is where I was blessed to get an outstanding education and grow spiritually. SBU is an institution that changes lives, and I am incredibly blessed to work here and be a part of that life change for so many students.

Tips for success in your first year at SBU: Don’t be afraid to approach new people or get involved; you have to remember that all of the other new students are going through the same exact experience as you are. They are probably just as nervous as you are and people are generally more nice and welcoming than you would think, especially at SBU. You will be so thankful you stepped out of your comfort zone when you look back years from now on all of the wonderful friendships you have.

Audra Hibbs

Admissions Counselor

Audra Hibbs, Admissions Counselor

Recruiting Territory: Transfer Students

Call: (417) 328-1816 | Text: (417) 327-5556
Twitter: @SBU_Audra

Tips for success in your first year at SBU: Stay open; surround yourself with new people and new experiences, and commit to learning from them, even the ones that end up looking like failure. Don’t be afraid to say yes to whatever God gives you during this season.

What sets SBU apart from other universities? SBU's community - the professors, mentors and friends I met at SBU have continued to be my most valuable supporters and encouragers will into my adult life. Being on a small campus gives you the opportunity to really know and be known by the people around you, and to build relationships that will last a lifetime.

Nicki Harmon

Admissions Counselor

Nicki Harmon, Admissions Counselor

States: IL
Missouri Counties: Adair, Audrain, Chariton, Clark, Franklin, Jefferson, Knox, Lewis, Lincoln, Linn, Macon, Marion, Monroe, Pike, Putnam, Ralls, Randolph, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby, St. Charles, St. Louis, Sullivan, Warren, Washington

Call: (417) 328-1814 | Text: (417) 399-1508

How has SBU been influential in your life?: The woman I am today is due largely in part to this place and the people I've met during my time here. The faculty and staff that have poured into me, the professors who spent countless hours teaching me, and the experiences that I have had here have been invaluable to my identity as a woman in God's Kingdom.

Tips for success in your first year at SBU: Once you're here, start looking for your niche. Find what you're passionate about and then go do it! By doing so, you'll be surprised as to how quickly this place can start to feel like a second home and how fellow students and faculty members can start to feel like family.

Richard Young

Admissions Counselor

Richard Young, Admissions Counselor

States: AL, AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IN, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MT, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY
Missouri Counties: Bollinger, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Carter, Dunklin, Iron, Madison, Mississippi, New Madrid, Oregon, Pemiscot, Perry, Reynolds, Ripley, Scott, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stoddard, Wayne

Call: (417) 328-1912 | Text: (417) 298-3375
Twitter: @SBU_Richard

How has SBU been influential in your life?: SBU has been so influential in my life. I never imagined how much I would grow in the four years I spent here. When I look back, the things that helped shape me were the other students I encountered. Having conversations with people in the dorm or getting coffee opened my eyes.  I was able to meet people who were smarter than me, had different experiences, and were willing to listen to my questions. At SBU everyone wants to see you learn, succeed, and grow. And as I grew I was able to take what I learned from those students and help younger students along the way. SBU grew and stretched me in ways I never thought possible and made me into the person I am today.

Tips for success in your first year at SBU: The biggest piece of advice I can give to incoming students is that college is what you make it. The best way to succeed is to leave your dorm room and spend time with people. We have awesome events throughout the semester and those are awesome ways to get involved and spend time with people who enjoy the same things you do. I think it’s also important to keep trying. If you want to be a Resident Assistant or a student leader, keep at it. SBU does an incredible job of making sure you don’t have to try to succeed on your own, either. Other students, faculty, and staff are always more than willing to help you succeed. But the biggest part of succeeding here is making it yours and giving it your all.

Chris Kimberling

Admissions Counselor

Chris Kimberling, Admissions Counselor

States: KS
Missouri Counties: Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan, Caldwell, Carroll, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Daviess, DeKalb, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Holt, Jackson, Lafayette, Livingston, Mercer, Nodaway, Platte, Ray, Worth

Call: (417) 328-1829 | Text: (417) 328-9151

How has SBU been influential in your life? SBU has provided me a fertile ground to grow through rigorous academics, intimate community, genuine faithfulness to Christ, an openness to new horizons, and more. I have loved my time as a student and employee of SBU, and still find new ways to invest and be invested in on our campus. One of my favorite parts about being at this university is feeling the energy from our students, faculty and staff as they pursue their avenues of excellence. This inspires me to continue pursuing a life of passion on a daily basis.

What advice would you give to incoming students about succeeding at SBU? Come and get involved as you experience our campus. You will find many great activities to partake in and students to get to know. Both are so formative in your time. Have a blast as you find your passion. While having fun, become an expert at your studies as well. The more you invest in your academics, the more rewarding your college experience will be.

Chris Mitchell

Admissions Counselor

Chris Mitchell, Admissions Counselor

States: AR, IA, NE, OK
Missouri Counties: Barry, Barton, Bates, Cedar, Jasper, Lawrence, McDonald, Newton, St. Clair, Stone, Taney, Vernon

Call: (417) 328-1800 | Text: (417) 327-9429
Twitter: @SBU_ChrisM

What does SBU mean to you? SBU is a place full of many amazing opportunities awaiting to be discovered. With the many areas of study offered, the possibilities are endless to discover your passions, desires, and goals. SBU is a Christ-centered and academically focused community that gives students the college experience they need to be successful in their future. Become a Bearcat where your life will be changed for the better!

Tips for success in your first year at SBU: 1) Try it out! You never know what God has planned for you, so don't be afraid to try something new. 2) Check into everything SBU has to offer you. There are a lot of options for you that you can pick and choose from that best fit your passions, desires, and goals for your life. 3) SBU has many different areas to help make your college experience one you will never regret. Get involved because your college experience is what you make of it

Savannah Palmer

Admissions Counselor

Savannah Palmer, Admissions Counselor

Missouri Counties: Christian, Dade, Dallas, Greene, Hickory and Polk

Call: (417) 328-1812 | Text: (417) 327-5554

What SBU means to me:  SBU means the world to me! SBU is a place that continues to cultivate my faith as well as my education daily. Initially I came to SBU not knowing the impact it would have, not only on my development as a professional, but also on my eternity. I truly believe that God worked through the students and the professors at SBU to bring me into TRUE fellowship and relationship with Him.

Tips for success in your first year at SBU: Here’s my personal opinion. Get involved. Get out of your dorm room and go network. This place is a WEALTH of knowledge that is just waiting for you to explore. Students, staff, your resident assistants and director, faculty, and especially our president — they are all such a critical part of your development here and you won’t be able to engage with them all in your dorm room. So, yes, study. Strive for excellence in your academics — but don’t forget about your journey at SBU is also about the lifelong friendship you’ll make.

Natalie O'Keefe

Admissions Counselor

Natalie O'Keefe, Admissions Counselor

Missouri Counties: Benton, Boone, Callaway, Camden, Cole, Cooper, Crawford, Dent, Douglas, Gasconade, Henry, Howard, Howell, Johnson, Laclede, Maries, Miller, Moniteau, Montgomery, Morgan, Osage, Ozark, Pettis, Phelps, Pulaski, Saline, Shannon, Texas, Webster, Wright

Call: (417) 328-1824 | Text: (417) 327-5553
Twitter: @SBU_Natalie

Tips for success in your first year at SBU: Get plugged in! The options for campus and community involvement are endless. Try new things and explore your options. Plug in to activities and groups on campus, but also be engaged in the Bolivar community. Finding a local church will powerfully enrich your college experience!

What sets SBU apart from other universities? Southwest Baptist University is unique in that the focus is preparing students to be successful in every area of their lives. Students receive an excellent education, while also being nurtured spiritually, emotionally and socially. I'm so thankful that God let me to a place that fostered growth in every facet of my life!