Student Achievement Award Alumnus Combines the Army, Law, and Ministry

Outstanding Student Achievement Award

Each year the School of Business faculty select one student to receive the Outstanding Student Achievement Award at commencement. The certificate reads, “[This award] offers distinctive recognition of an exceptional Business graduating senior at Maranatha Baptist University. The recipient has exhibited excellence in academic and spiritual leadership and holds great promise as a future Christian business professional.”

Professor Tracy Foster, Director for the School of Business, attests to the difficulty of selecting just one student. “We put pictures of the graduating class on a wall and throw darts at them while blind-folded,” he joked.

Since the first award given in 2007, the business faculty have never struggled to find candidates, an indicator of the success of Maranatha’s business program and the godly character and caliber of its students.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the award, the School of Business has decided to catch up with their Student Achievement Award alumni.

Education Life

Paul Shirk, 2008 business graduate and recipient of the Student Achievement Award, currently resides in Colorado with his wife, Cindy, and his two daughters, Elyse (5) and Evelyn (3).

Shirk currently works for the Army as a Judge Advocate (lawyer) Officer at Fort Carson. Before Fort Carson, however, Shirk has traveled a long road full of amazing work experiences and fascinating places.

Shirk graduated from Maranatha in 2008 with a B.B.A. in Accounting Management. During college, he participated in society, ROTC, jail ministry, intramural sports, and church ministries. After graduation, Shirk attended Marquette University Law School. He earned his law degree in 2011 along with a Master of Business Administration degree.

Military Life

After college, Shirk worked at the Supreme Court of Wisconsin Clerkship. Then in 2011, he moved to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas where his first experience with the Army began.

Shirk first worked as a legal assistance attorney in the 1st Armored Division for eight months. After that, he was called to be the Trial Counsel (primary prosecuting attorney) for one of the 1st Armored Division’s Brigades.

Throughout the next two and a half years, Shirk tried more than thirty cases and handled hundreds of disciplinary cases. He quickly made his way from the most junior prosecutor to the most senior. During this time period, Shirk was involved in cases that most civilian prosecutors do not experience until later in their careers, including the largest drug bust in Criminal Investigative Division’s Drug Suppression Team’s history.

Then, Fort Bliss’ senior attorney selected Shirk to fill the roles of Senior Trial Counsel and Chief of Justice. Shirk was grateful that his time filling these positions was short. He explains, “Attempting to do the two busiest military justice jobs just about killed me.”

Shirk’s next position as a fiscal law attorney sent him to the Middle East. In this position, he was responsible for large amounts of U.S. government spending money. In addition, he filled the role of primary legal advisor to a one-star command and dealt with many of the legal tasks involved in military life.

When Shirk returned to the States, he was nominated to become an attorney for the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Carson. He currently fills this position, advising the group in legal matters from operational to military justice.

Shirk sees a continuing future in the Army, though he has no idea what roles he will fill as time marches on. For now, he is content in his current position.

Colorado Life

Shirk and his family certainly enjoy life in Colorado. They attend Vista Grande Baptist Church in Colorado Springs. Cindy, Shirk’s wife, works in children’s ministry on Wednesday evenings, and the family is active in other programs throughout the week.

Shirk also assists with the development of a military-focused ministry targeting Army Special Forces Soldiers with whom Shirk interacts often. He testifies to God’s hand and blessing in the ministry, which has grown rapidly over the past few months.

Overall, Shirk exemplifies the Maranatha’s goal of preparing leaders for ministry in the local church and the world. He has used what he learned at Maranatha to succeed in various positions in the Army. Shirk has also contributed to his local church, expanding its ministry to a realm of unbelievers that he has the opportunity to interact with.

This article originally appeared on MBU News.

Leave a Comment