By Bailey Jarnagin 

CLEVELAND, Ga (TMNews) – Junior nursing major Mallory Dollar never expected to be on the path she’s currently following, but she credits God for sovereignly guiding her every step of the way.

A relationship all her own

A resident of Cleveland Ga., Dollar’s family of six has called the North Georgia mountains home for fifteen years. As the daughter of a pastor, Dollar relied on the faith of her parents until she was in fifth grade.

“It was February 2005 that I felt the Lord telling me, ‘You have to do this on your own,’” recalled Dollar. “At that time I figured out my relationship with the Lord was mine to make my own. I prayed and asked the Lord into my heart.”

Dollar continued to develop a love for God and a heart for His people together with her family. “The way I was raised, missions came along as a part,” said Dollar. “In the mid-2000s we started doing family mission trips either to Kentucky or to Missouri. We would do VBS and different things like that.”

Finding a home away from home

In 2008, Dollar had her first experience with foreign missions: “My family and I went to Brazil on our first international mission trip. We built a church there.”

The following year Dollar had the opportunity to go to Haiti where she felt the Lord shaping her future. “I fell in love with it,” Dollar shared. “That’s where I knew I wanted to do missions. My heart was changed in that direction.”

Although Dollar did not originally plan to attend Truett-McConnell, God called her to the campus which would present her with more chances to be a part of international ministry as well as prepare her heart to do the Lord’s will.

“I never wanted to come to TM. My sister went there. That was her school, so I wanted to move away and make my own name,” Dollar continued.

“In high school I started doing night school so that I could have a job during the day, and I took classes at Truett-McConnell through the Accel program. I got really familiar with all the professors, I already had an advisor, and I loved the layout of campus. I just decided to stay.”

Opening unexpected doors

Dollar was attracted to the sense of community Truett-McConnell offered, and she appreciates the relationships she has built within her academic division. “The way our nursing class is, each class is like a small family,” stated Dollar.

“You learn to depend on each other, and you learn to communicate. You cry together when you get bad grades, or you celebrate together when everyone does well.”

Dollar considers her enrollment in the nursing program to be a true orchestration of God. “My original major was dental hygiene,” said Dollar. “I was in the process of taking all the prerequisite classes for dental hygiene, and I planned on transferring to another school once I finished.”

Before completing the application to transfer, Dollar went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic where she was supposed to obtain dental hygiene experience in the field; however, her trip did not go as planned.

“We only had doctors; we didn’t have any dentists go with us,” remembered Dollar. “All we could do was medical work, and that was my first peek into the medical world. I got to work in the operating room, help with triage, and work in the pharmacy. I loved what I learned.”

Upon returning to the United States, Dollar submitted her application to dental hygiene school, but was disappointed to not receive an interview. “I had been planning this since freshman year of high school,” said Dollar. “I was really confused, and I didn’t understand why the Lord had closed this door.”

Dollar had a number of classmates applying for entrance into Truett-McConnell’s nursing program, and they encouraged her to do the same despite the fact that the deadline for applications had already passed.

“I went to talk to the nursing professors and they said they would still accept my application,” said Dollar. “I took the TEAS [entrance exam] test and passed it first try. I got all the bios written and sent my application in. In two weeks I had my acceptance packet. This door was literally wide open.”

Medicine, missions, and marriage

Since making the decision to pursue a degree in nursing, Dollar has participated in medical missions in Africa and Haiti. “The Zambia trip was ten days,” informed Dollar. “We worked in a hospital and just got to be with the patients. They dealt a lot with club foot, and I got to see them slowly correct it. It was a very good learning experience.”

In January of 2016, Dollar was a member of a mission team that traveled to Haiti. While there, she was able to run a clinic at the Hope for Life Children’s Home in Gressier. This orphanage holds a special place in Dollar’s heart for more reasons than one.

Not only has she bonded with the precious children who call the orphanage their home, but it was also on the orphanage property where she accepted the marriage proposal of TM Resident Director Benjamin Garrison.

“I met Ben through my older sister when they were freshmen,” stated Dollar. “I knew of him, but I never really thought about him until fall of 2014. We would see each other passing in the parking lot, and we would find ourselves talking about random life stuff.”

Dollar and Garrison spent time building a friendship, then went out on their first date in January of 2015. “That night I knew,” divulged Dollar. “They say ‘when you know, you know’, and that is so true.”

The couple’s wedding is planned for May 15 of this year. After the wedding, Dollar will complete her nursing degree, and Garrison will continue his ministry as the Middle School Pastor of Blackshear Place Baptist Church.

“My desire is to be where he is – to be invested and involved where he is,” said Dollar. “After we get married, he is my ministry, and beyond that, his ministry is my ministry.”

Although Dollar’s life has not gone exactly as she once planned, she could not be happier with where she is and what she has learned along the way.

“I didn’t know why the Lord had changed my plans. I thought I had everything figured out,” Dollar declared. “It was to allow me to depend upon the Lord and remember who really is in control.”


Bailey is a senior English major and a freelance writer for the college.

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