From probation to an RA and a Bethel leader

As a first-year student, Caleb Harris ’24 admits he was far from an ideal example of faith at Bethel. He was even placed on probation in Getsch Hall. But that all changed as Harris found a community of supportive friends and recommitted his life to Christ. After what his friends call an amazing transformation story, Harris is now a leader on campus, serving his second year as an RA and preparing for his next steps after graduation.

By Jason Schoonover ’09, senior web content specialist

January 12, 2024 | 1 p.m.

Caleb Harris '24

Caleb Harris '24

When Caleb Harris ’24 first felt the pull to become a resident assistant (RA) at Bethel, he denied it. A few years earlier, Harris had been the one getting into trouble, making it hard to imagine becoming the one dolling out discipline. But he prayed about it and saw a ministry opportunity. He applied, was open and honest about his past challenges, and became an RA in Getsch Hall on the same floor where he got into trouble as a first-year student. It was a full-circle moment—one that reflected the change Harris has undergone at Bethel. “If you really want it, you can really grow here,” he says.

Many who know Harris marvel at his transformation, but they’re not surprised. “I’m just unbelievably proud of him,” says Danny Kulus ’22, one of Harris’s best friends. “He’s had quite the journey at Bethel. I think everyone has a little bit of a transformation story, but I think his is one of the coolest.” That story started with a difficult time. Harris wanted to attend a school where he could take his faith seriously, so choosing Bethel was easy. But Harris was placed on probation after struggling with things like tobacco use, and he experienced a challenging time with his faith. “When I first came here, I was definitely not the poster boy for what faith should be at Bethel,” Harris says.

But change came with an answered prayer. After praying for solid, supportive men in his life, Harris connected with Danny Kulus ’22, and a strong friendship formed. Harris felt God had heard him. “This is a really solid dude God put into my life,” he says. Around the same time, Harris connected with his dad and spoke with him about his struggles. Then Kulus urged Harris to join Bethel’s football team, even though Harris never played in high school. Harris admits it was challenging to train and learn the sport at a top college program, and it came with difficult and embarrassing moments. But he’s grateful he stuck with it because of how it changed him off the field. “I feel like God kind of used football a lot to form my character, to teach me really important things that would be kind of hard to learn outside the football community,” he says. Bethel’s football program is renowned for its strong team culture based on helping players grow as men, which helped connect Harris to a group of friends. “I’ve got a lot of brothers that are around me now, a lot of dudes I can call,” he says.

“If you really want it, you can really grow here."

— Caleb Harris '24

As he found a community of close friends, Harris also switched majors to business. After talks with his family, Harris felt his extroverted nature and love of people would serve him well in a possible career in sales and business. “I love relationships. I love people. And sometimes business is all about relationships,” he says. “So I think that was something we noticed—I love kind of the interaction. That’s something I don’t think I’d get tired of.” And after Harris recommitted his life to Christ, he added a Minor in Biblical and Theological Studies. Since, Kulus has seen Harris grow bolder and more committed in his faith. “He always had that. It just kind of blew up like wildfire,” says Kulus, who credits Harris with being dedicated and putting in work to improve his faith, make connections, and grow.

Kulus describes Harris as a fun-loving jokester and prankster—someone who always finds a way to make things fun. But Kulus says Harris can also hold serious and deep conversations. While Harris points to Kulus as a key turning point, Kulus remembers it a bit differently. “He’ll paint the picture like I was the one who impacted his life the most, but it goes both ways,” Kulus says. “He certainly had the same exact impact on my life and other people’s lives.”

Caleb Harris '24

Caleb Harris '24

Kulus is honored to have seen Harris grow into a leader at Bethel. Harris's leadership qualities have come out in his work as an RA. He admits the job has been challenging, but it’s been filled with great moments, connections, and growth. He’s learned to lead in a sacrificial, not authoritative, way, and his background helped him connect with men on his floor who were struggling. But Harris admits it’s difficult going from the one getting in trouble to the one disciplining others. Overall, Harris loves supporting men and helping them grow. “To walk with them in a way that’s really real and not fake, I’ve seen a lot of cool things happen through that,” he says. Harris is an RA for the second year, now in Arden Village with many of the same men from last school year. 

In spring, Harris is traveling to Belize for the third straight year on a spring break mission trip. The first year, he was the first non-nursing student to go. While they worked to check people’s glucose levels and other vitals, Harris helped pick out care packages and spent time connecting with men in the village. He still keeps up with many of the men he met over Facebook and reconnected with them when he returned. 

As he nears graduation, Harris is keeping his options open. He has dreams, but he doesn’t have a sketched-out plan as his hopes and goals are still shifting.  Harris is thankful for all the support he received at Bethel—from receiving the Royal Merit Scholarship to the connections he made through football to the second chances he was given and the opportunity to be an RA. Harris is especially grateful he found a vibrant and supportive community at Bethel, even after he fell short at times. “I still got met with forgiveness,” he says. “I’m really thankful for this place.” He describes Bethel as a place where people can flourish in their faith. “This is a spot where I really felt loved to do so—and was given all the opportunities to do so,” he says.

Grow your faith at Bethel.

As a Bethel student, you’ll enter into a genuine community that’s striving to discover what it means to live out Christ’s love in a complex world. You’ll engage your heart, mind, body, and spirit as you challenge your assumptions and wrestle with complicated issues in a community that supports and encourages each other along the way.

Learn more