Choosing to Make a Difference

Tony Brown visits with students at a Hesston College basketball game.

With countless professional opportunities, Tony Brown ’69 chooses to make teaching at Hesston a priority.

Students aren’t the only ones who have a myriad of options when choosing a college. Faculty have choices, too. Hesston College is blessed with an overwhelmingly intelligent, talented, creative and energetic faculty who choose to help make students’ starts incredible.

Tony Brown ’69 could be doing a lot of different things – and he is. On top of his teaching responsibilities in Hesston’s social work program, Brown travels the country singing and performing shows personally and as a representative of the college. He is also the founder of the Peacing It Together Foundation, an organization that serves the global community as a resource for peace and social justice.

Brown could travel the world and perform full time, yet he chooses to make Hesston College a priority.

“I feel an attachment to Hesston,” he said. “When I was considering coming to Hesston as a faculty member, I saw something here I remembered from my time as a student – at Hesston, people are people, not just a number. Faculty and staff impact students’ lives. We are expected to get to know our students and vice versa. I feel honored to be able to influence and impact students. It is affirming and life giving.”

Brown returned to Hesston as an instructor and artist in residence in 2000 in what was to be a one-year arrangement. He had been assistant director of therapy and psychotherapy at the University of Washington (Seattle) for 17 years prior. He was also singing on the side, taking vacation days from the university in order to perform, when Hesston approached him with interest in both his teaching and performance.

That one-year deal has become 13-plus years as he continues to pursue all the things he loves. One of his passions is creating community with his students.

“Tony is such a personable instructor,” said Sierra Wyse ’14 (Mount Pleasant, Iowa). “He asks questions that are challenging and thought provoking. He is really inspirational.”

“Young people want to feel like they belong and be around people who will be real with them,” Brown said. “When they feel valued and cared for, it gives them a heightened sense of confidence. Hesston College allows and encourages that kind of relationship between instructor and student. It’s that value-added element that makes Hesston so special.”

Hesston College sponsors Brown’s one-man show I Go On Singing: Paul Robeson’s Life in His Words and Songs, a historical biography, live concert tribute to the popular African-American performer and activist of the 1930s and 40s. His personal travels across the globe have helped make him a world-renowned baritone and allowed him to see music transform and heal. The Anthony Brown Baritone Comprehensive School in Pader, Uganda, which is run by the Ugandan organization Friends of Orphans and provides free education for formerly abducted child soldiers, orphans and other vulnerable children in the war-torn country, is named in his honor.