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UC Has an Eagle with a Vision and a Prayer


Williamsburg, KY., - In order for a person to be successful in life, they must possess qualities and characteristics much like that of the eagle. They must be bold, tenacious, fearless, nurturing, possess vitality, and have a strong, focused vision. When University of the Cumberlands’ (UC) freshman, Joshua Thomas’ (Hebron, KY) parents, Monsuque “Derek” and Cindy Thomas, raised their nest of eight boys, they had their eyes set on their sons’ future and were determined to help them fly high.

Trinidad native Derek Thomas and wife Cindy realize the true value of family and do everything they can to keep their kids grounded and focused on Christ and on life. The Thomas’ have instilled in their sons how to respect themselves, others, and have taught them to treat others as they wish to be treated. All eight sons are Eagle Scouts. The Thomas boys from oldest to youngest are: Justin, Jonathon, Jacob, Joseph, Jordan, Joshua, Jared, and Jackson. They have broken a world record for having the largest number of Eagle Scouts in a single family. The record they broke was seven sons. The eldest Thomas son, Justin, recently sent in papers to the Guinness Book of World Records in hopes of their achievements being recognized and honored.


“Being an Eagle Scout has prepared me for life,” said Joshua. “It also taught me how to be a leader. It teaches and encourages team work and teaches how to work with different backgrounds, people, and attitudes.”

Cindy and Derek Thomas allow their children to make their own decisions. They do, however, push that each son either takes the path of furthering their education at a college or university after they complete high school or go into the service. Derek is a Navy veteran and so far, two of his sons have followed in him footsteps; Jonathon joined the Coast Guards and Joseph is in the Air Force. Their eldest son is currently living in Chicago pursuing a successful and fast-moving career in sales. Jacob works as a freight broker at TQL, Jordan is attending college, Joshua is at UC, and the two youngest sons, Jared and Jackson, are planning their futures while still enjoying the life as high school students.

“I’m very proud of all my boys and they have all chosen their own paths using the guidance we have provided and the skills and education needed to be successful,” said Cindy. “Joshua is very self-disciplined and although all of my children were well behaved, Joshua was one that I only had to tell him to do something once, and it was done. He does a wonderful job knowing how much he can handle; he certainly knows his limits. I feel that he truly knows how to succeed.”

Just like Cindy and Derek have done, Eagle Scouting has taught the Thomas boys how to cook, clean, sew, camp with appropriate survival skills, how to communicate well with others, public speaking skills, canoeing, and other skills needed for everyday life. Each skill or task completed will earn a scout a badge and advancement. Being involved with the Scouts has also helped the Thomas boys develop their strong character, provide them with effective leadership skills, teach them to be respectful, and hold them accountable. Not only did the Thomas boys learn life lessons but they have had many opportunities to adventure out into the world and spend quality time with friends and family.

“One of my best memories as an Eagle Scout would have to be about two summers ago when we took a trip to Arkansas,” admitted Joshua. “We went for ten days and canoed for about eleven to twelve miles a day. My highlight of this particular trip was fishing and spending time with my brothers and my dad. I also enjoyed one of the high adventure trips we took where we sailed in the Bahamas. My dad is and always has been very involved with Eagle Scouts and basically anything we do. We have been greatly blessed.”

Joshua, the sixth eldest son, first discovered UC when he joined his youth group at Grace Fellowship in Union, Kentucky for a college visit to campus. The church took a group of teens to several selected colleges and universities up north and a few down south and UC was on their agenda. Joshua was impressed by the university and immediately felt that he had been called to it so he enrolled and was accepted.

“After we learned that Joshua had chosen University of the Cumberlands, Cindy and I researched the school for quite a while,” said Derek Thomas. “When we came to UC to visit with our son, we really loved how friendly everyone seemed to be to us. We ran into a man and my wife asked what his position was at UC, given he was rather dressed up. He replied, ‘I’m the oldest student on campus ’. Then he laughed and said he was Dr. Jim Taylor, the president of the university. We were shocked that the president was so down to earth, approachable, and amongst the student population. That alone was a deciding factor for my wife and I that Joshua had made a good decision.”

Joshua is an outstanding student who has the ability and will power to obtain a high grade point average while putting his heart and soul into playing soccer at UC. He is a defender on the field and defender of his faith in Lord Jesus Christ.

“Joshua is an example of what every parent hopes their son would be,” explained Dr. Carolyn Reaves. “He is intelligent, has great manners and never seems to be in a bad mood. His smile shows his friendliness.”

Joshua is a tutor with Dr. Carolyn Reaves in the library where he works as a workstudy student. Although this is a position he must complete in order to receive the financial assistance he needs for school, he is still at the mercy of others who are lacking in understanding.

“His skills with people made him an excellent tutor in the Academic Resource Center,” said Dr. Reaves. “He is the same at work or just meeting him on the sidewalk as he is going to classes. He always politely says, ‘How are you today, Dr. Reaves?’ If he comes in and doesn't have a tutee request waiting on him, he might reply, ‘is there anything you want me to do for you today?' To me that is rare as we live in such a busy world that most of us never think to ask if we can help someone. I am glad I took a chance on hiring him when he applied for workstudy. He has assisted with group study sessions and worked well with his peers in this effort. I look forward to working with him as he continues his education at UC.”

Joshua put the leadership skills he had gained from his parents and his experience as an Eagle Scout in motion when he made the bold move to begin a devotion session in his dorm at Rob-Cook Hall. This was an idea encouraged by his mother and he appreciates the extra push to share God’s love and wonder with others while making new friends in the process.

“University of the Cumberlands is a really nice school and I am happy here,” said Joshua. “I started a Bible study group in my dorm and it is going well. It is extremely important for us to stay focused, grounded and all eyes on God. It is nice to have made friends at UC who share the same faith and values as I do who will hold me accountable. I found a church I like here. I attend Main Street Baptist Church in Williamsburg with a few of my friends. I want to be an example in all that I do.”

Although Joshua is currently undecided when it comes to his major at UC, he has hopes of possibly pursuing a career in dentistry. Just like an eagle, Joshua is tenacious, fearless, extremely nurturing, and has a strong vision of what he wants out of life. University of the Cumberlands is honored to be the home to this bright, young student.

“One thing that I try to live by is 1 Corinthians 10:31,” Joshua said. “It reads, ‘So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.’”

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees more than 40 major fields of study; ten pre-professional programs; ten graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs. For more information visit