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Alumni Profile: Ryan Burns '15

Ryan Burns Alumni Profile

Ryan Burns is one alum proving that kingdom work doesn’t always fit our stereotypes of overseas missions, church leadership, or non-profit work. Working as a lobbyist for Walmart, Ryan has the opportunity to represent Christ in a messy political arena. 

Ryan grew up in a military family but spent most of his childhood in the Florida panhandle. Coming to Covenant was full of new experiences for Ryan, including learning more about the PCA. He grew up in a bi-denominational home - his dad was Catholic, and his mom was Baptist. 

A summer high school mission trip to Jamaica exposed Ryan to extreme poverty for the first time. He says that through this trip, the Lord opened his eyes to see his own brokenness and weakness and his ultimate need for a savior. Ryan has faithfully followed the Lord’s call for his life ever since.

One way Ryan has served the Lord is through his music. In high school, he became a worship leader for his school and also led worship for churches in the area. At Covenant, Ryan was part of the chapel worship team, and he is currently a part-time worship leader at his church in Northern Virginia, Mclean Presbyterian.

Basketball initially brought Ryan to Covenant, but he wasn’t convinced about the college on his first visit. Growing up on the beach, he was not excited about the thought of living on a mountain, and he first visited during the summer when no welcoming Covenant students were around to greet him. Luckily, the basketball coaches kept in touch with Ryan, and he gave Covenant another chance. His second visit was completely different. He says he fell in love with the community on that visit, and it was the Covenant community that most impacted his life while in college.

Ryan says that his time at Covenant taught him two very important lessons, the first being the importance of recognizing where and what you put your identity in. He came into college prioritizing his identity as an athlete, student, and musician over his identity as a child of God, but the Lord used an injury early into his college career to begin reconstructing his perspective. With his identity as an athlete stripped for a season, the Lord graciously began to open Ryan’s eyes to what it means to have his identity in Christ instead rather than finding his identity in how the world defines him. 

The second lesson Ryan gleaned from his time at Covenant was the power of community. He says, “What sets Covenant apart is you are fixed in this community of people that are actively seeking Jesus, and you are immersed in an environment that is filled with the aroma of Christ.” 

When Ryan graduated from Covenant, he wrestled with the decision of whether to pursue politics or enter into ministry. With the Lord’s guidance, he landed on politics and moved to D.C. to begin the fellows program at Mclean Presbyterian. In this program, he had the unique opportunity of working on Capitol Hill while also attending seminary part-time and serving in the community through a tutoring program. This experience shaped and refined his desire to work in politics and led him to where he is today. 

Currently, Ryan works as a lobbyist for Walmart’s Federal Government Affairs Team. When people hear about lobbyists, it often comes with a negative connotation, but Ryan sees his job as impactful Kingdom work. “There is a misunderstanding of what it means to serve Christ in this world,” he says. Ryan used to think that those who went into ministry or the mission field had a stronger devotion to Christ, but the Lord has transformed that false narrative for him. He comments, “God delights in his people serving in a variety of different spheres, and He delights in seeing His people help to bring about flourishing in His world.”

Specifically for Ryan, his work allows him to bring about flourishing at the messy intersection of politics and business, and he truly loves it. He says that, in this role, he has the chance to wake up every day and fight to provide underserved communities with jobs, education, and affordable food. His work gives him the opportunity to step into the real challenges of our world while bringing glory to Christ and serving others.

Graduate School of Education

Undergraduate Departments, Majors, Minors, Certificates, Concentrations, and Programs

Academic Certificates

  • Arts Administration
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability
  • Journalism and Society
  • Medical Ethics Consultation
  • Neuroscience
  • Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

Art

  • Art, 2-D Concentration 
  • Art, 3-D Concentration 
  • Art, Art History Concentration 
  • Art, Graphic Design Concentration 
  • Art, Photography Concentration 
  • Art minor
  • Art History minor

Biblical & Theological Studies

  • Biblical & Theological Studies 
  • Biblical & Theological Studies, Missions Concentration 
  • Biblical & Theological Studies minor
  • Biblical Languages minor
  • History of Christianity minor
  • Missions minor
  • Youth Ministry minor

Biology

  • Biology, Biomedical Concentration 
  • Biology, Environmental Concentration 
  • Biology, General 
  • Biology, Health Professions Concentration 
  • Biology minor

Business

  • Business 
  • Business, Accounting Concentration 
  • Business, Finance Concentration 
  • Business, Marketing Concentration 
  • Sport Management 
  • Business minor
  • Sport Management minor

Chemistry

  • Chemistry, Biochemistry Concentration 
  • Chemistry, General 
  • Biochemistry minor
  • Chemistry minor

Computer Science

  • Computer Science 
  • Computer Science minor

Economics & Community Development

  • Community Development 
  • Economics 
  • Community Development minor
  • Economics minor

Education

  • Education Studies 
  • Elementary Education (P-5) 
  • Secondary Education Certifications through MAT program 
  • Education minor

Engineering 3:2 Program

  • Natural Science, Pre-Engineering Studies Concentration

English

  • English 
  • English, Writing Concentration 
  • English minor
  • Linguistics minor
  • Writing minor

Health, Wellness and Coaching

  • Coaching minor

History & Politics

  • History 
  • History, Art History Concentration 
  • Political Science 
  • History minor
  • Political Science minor

Interdisciplinary Studies

  • Interdisciplinary Studies with Concentrations 

International Studies

  • International Studies 

Mathematics

  • Mathematics 
  • Mathematics minor

Music

  • Music, Church Music Concentration 
  • Music, Creative Studies Concentration 
  • Music, General Music Concentration 
  • Music, Instrumental Performance Concentration 
  • Music, Music Education (Pre-MAT) Concentration 
  • Music, Organ Performance Concentration 
  • Music, Piano Pedagogy Concentration 
  • Music, Piano Performance Concentration 
  • Music, Theory/Composition Concentration 
  • Music, Vocal Performance Concentration 
  • Music minor

Philosophy

  • Philosophy 
  • Philosophy minor

Physics

  • Physics 
  • Physics minor

Pre-Professional Programs

  • Pre-Law Studies 
  • Pre-Medical Studies 
  • Pre-Nursing Studies 
  • Pre-Physical Therapy Studies 

Psychology

  • Psychology 
  • Psychology minor

Sociology

  • Sociology 
  • Sociology, Family Studies & Social Work Concentration 
  • Sociology minor

Theatre

  • Theatre 
  • Theatre minor

World Languages

  • French 
  • Spanish 
  • French minor
  • Spanish minor