Texas Tech University

Senator Birdwell Speaks at RBLP Kick-Off Luncheon

Darla Vasquez

September 12, 2016

Birdwell luncheon

The Rawls Business Leadership Program recently kicked-off the semester with a welcome luncheon. The event gave new and existing students the opportunity to meet, mingle and hear from Texas Senator Brian Birdwell.

Senator Birdwell spoke to RBLP students about the qualities of a leader. He stressed that leadership does not depend on the position you hold in an organization. Leadership is determined by your performance of duty and willingness to help those around you, regardless of their situation or yours. Senator Birdwell believes that true leadership can come from any person, even a lower-level employee, as long as they stick to their convictions.

"Any person can get into the foxhole to ensure the safety of their team like a true leader would," Senator Birdwell said. There are certain qualities the Senator recognizes as signs of a great leader, including: integrity, honor, toughness of spirit, a strong character and the ability to listen to the people around you.

"Senator Birdwell was a man that showed great enthusiasm and determination in everything he did. He stands as a great example of how humbleness and integrity can go a long way in demonstrating how to stand strong during challenging times," accounting major Melvin Scurry said.

"Senator Birdwell's life is an inspiration to strive for honor. He preaches about how honor is the greatest characteristic a person could have, and I believe that is a great idea to live by. He inspired me to take the most honorable path I can, even when it isn't always easy, because that's what makes for great leadership," accounting and MIS major Alexandria Reeves said.

More About Senator Birdwell

Senator Brian Birdwell is a native Texas, decorated military veteran and lifelong conservative Republican currently representing Texas Senate District 22. Born in Fort Worth and currently residing in Granbury, Brian is a graduate of Lamar University in Beaumont, U. S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he earned a Master of Public Administration degree.

As a Distinguished Military Graduate of the Lamar Army RPTC program in 1984, Brian was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army and served in numerous training deployments and two operational deployments. In 1990, he deployed to Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, where he was awarded the Bronze Star for Exceptional Meritorious Achievement. In 1998, he deployed to Central American as the Joint Operations Officer for Joint Task Force Aguila to execute humanitarian relief operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch. In 2001, Brian was serving on the Department of the Army Staff at the Pentagon as the military aide to the Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management.

On September 11, 2001, when American Airlines flight 77 was crashed just yards away from his second floor pentagon office, Brian was critically wounded and severely burned. Of the burns that covered more than 60 percent of his body, nearly half were third degree in severity. Today, following 39 operations, months of hospitalization and numerous skin grafts, Brian has made a miraculous recovery. Despite physical limitations, he testifies not only to his physical healing, but the ultimate miracle of grace through Christ. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received that day. Upon retirement in July 2004, he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

After his retirement from the Army, Brian and his wife, Mel, launched face the Fire Ministries, a non-profit organization that supports critical burn survivors and wounded servicemen and women and their families. Together, Brian and Mel authored Refined by Fire: A Family's Triumph of Love and Faith, which chronicles their life-changing ordeal. Through the years, Brian has been profiled in numerous national and regional media outlets.

In June 2010, Brian won a special election to the Texas State Senate. Five months later, he was re-elected to serve a full four-year term. After the decennial redistricting process in 2012, Brian was again re-elected to serve a full term expiring in January 2017. After his first legislative sessions in 2011 and 2013, Brian received critical acclaim and top ratings from numerous pro-life, pro-business and conservative organizations, including Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Texas Eagle Forum, Texas State Rifle Association/National Rifle Association, Texas Association of Business, Young Conservatives of Texas, Texas Alliance for Life, Texas Right to Life, Americans for Prosperity, Concerned Women for America, Texas Heritage Alliance and Texas Conservative Coalition. In his first wo legislative sessions, Senator Birdwell was proud to support legislation expanding access to higher education, strengthening eminent domain laws protecting landowners, increasing technical- and associate-degree options for high school graduates and adult students, strengthening oversight of river authorities, and serving Texas veterans and their family members.

Brian serves as Chairman of both the Senate Committee on Nominations and the Subcommittee on Border Security, and is a member of the Senate Committees on Natural Resources & Economic Development, State Affairs, and Veteran Affairs & Military Installations. He is also serving a 2011-2015 term on the Sunset Advisory Commission, a 12-member legislative body focused on identifying and eliminating waste, duplication and inefficiency within state government agencies. In addition to these duties, Brian is a member of the following legislative subcommittees: the governing board of the Texas Legislative Council; the Select Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence, and Transparency; the Joint Committee to Study Education Policy for a Skilled Workforce; the Joint Interim Committee to Study Human Trafficking; and the Joint Interim Committee to Study Recruitment of Firearms and Ammunition Manufacturers. In 2013, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz appointed Brian to his U.S. Service Academy Nominations Board, and in 2014, Senator Cruz named him Chairman of the 22-member board.

Brian and Mel have been married for 27 years and they have one son, Matt, who is a recent graduate of Texas Tech University. The Birdwells attend Lakeside Baptist Church in Granbury.

To view more photos from the RBLP luncheon, please visit the Rawls College's Flickr account.

This supports the efforts outlined in the Rawls College of Business Strategic Plan. Learn more about the LEADER 2020 Strategic Plan and follow our progress on Twitter at #RawlsLeads.