Where Are They Now - Graham McMillan
Posted on 03/11/2021

The GCISD “Where Are They Now” series features graduates of GCISD schools who have gone on to make a positive impact in their communities and/or have interesting, inspiring stories that deserve to be shared. This can include alumni with unique professions, noteworthy accomplishments, incredible obstacles to overcome, etc. We are always looking for alumni to feature, so if you want to nominate a GCISD graduate, fill out the nomination form here.

Where Are They Now - Graham McMillan

image of graham mcmillan A 2010 Colleyville Heritage High School graduate, Graham McMillan is now the high school pastor for Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth.

McMillan majored in political science and minored in business at TCU where he had a jam-packed undergraduate experience. After his freshman year at TCU, McMillan was part of a cross-country cycling trip from San Francisco to Washington D.C. to raise funds and awareness for people with intellectual disabilities, a passion he gained at CHHS from his art history teacher and the Best Buddies program.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for this proud alum, and GCISD’s Where Are They Now has caught up with him to talk about his time in GCISD, his passion for people, and much more...

Tell us a little bit about your life after high school graduation.
After high school, I attended Texas Christian University (Go Frogs!), where I majored in political science and minored in business. I jumped right into all of the college activities and participated in a cross-country cycling trip the summer after my freshman year. We cycled from San Francisco to Washington D.C. to raise funds and awareness for people with intellectual disabilities, a passion I gained in high school from my art history teacher Toni Byam and our Best Buddies chapter. 

When I came back from the trip, I was elected student body vice president at TCU, where I had the honor of serving as the TCU representative to the city of Fort Worth. My sophomore year, the Lord broke me of a massive amount of pride and showed me what it looked like to make Him not only the king of my heart but the Lord of my life. It was that summer I met my wife, Claire, while working at Pine Cove Christian Camps. When I came back from that summer, God began to direct me into ministry and used me to start a camp for incoming Christians at TCU. We called it Exodus. 

Through that camp, I met Danny Kolzow, a friend I would later donate a kidney to. I like to say that Claire stole my heart in college, and Danny stole my kidney. Surprisingly, in my senior year of college, God called me into full-time vocational ministry at Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth. I have been in student ministry since I graduated in 2014 and now oversee our three campuses’ high school programs. I graduate this May with my Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Seminary. Claire and I have one 2-year-old son here and two kiddos in heaven through miscarriage. Our son Earth-side is Mac Daddy (no his middle name is not actually “daddy”!) We love living in the Fort, loving on families, and seeing people fall in love with Jesus. 

In high school, did you know what kind of career you wanted or what you wanted to study? Did your mind change anywhere along the way or did you stick to those plans?
If you met me in high school, you probably knew I genuinely believed I would be the president of the United States. I went to school to study rhetoric so I could persuade people on how awesome I am. God cleverly used my studies to hone an ability to show people how amazing He is. God had a funny way of directing me to where He wanted. 

If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give your high school self?
Wow! If I could "back to the future" myself, I would probably tell myself 1) do less, 2) It not all about you, and 3) there is a difference between being a fan of Jesus and being a follower of Jesus. 

I just tried and tried to do everything and please everyone. My time in high school would have been much better spent focusing on developing deeper connections with only a few smaller groups of people. School organizations are phenomenal and certainly shaped me into who I am today, but looking back, I would tell myself to focus on just three things and do them all well instead of 30 things to do them just ok. 

As far as number 2, I think we have a funny way of making things about ourselves even if we say they are for others. A life of self-sacrifice marks true love and pure religion.

What advice would you give to a student preparing for college or the working world?
I would say focus on your working genius (a phrase from leadership guru Patrick Lencioni). So many people try to hone their weaknesses; that’s madness to me. You should hone your strengths. If you are good with people, study being better with people. If you are good with numbers, study more math. If you like to tinker, study mechanics.

What was your favorite high school memory and why?
Nostalgia! I loved football games at “Panther-Mustang” Stadium. I had a red convertible Ford Mustang in high school and didn’t like the embossed word “Mustang” on the back, so I got a custom sticker to cover it with the word “Panther” (gosh I was so vain!). 

Wow, favorite memory? I loved the student leadership class with Terri Kitzmiller. I loved my Chicago art history trip with Toni Byam. I loved talking with Wes Watters about the election after government class and picking on Sandy Orton, my english teacher. I loved theater class with Pam Koepf and being in Footloose. I loved Best Buddies retreats with the most amazing people. I loved how Susan Foster treated me like an adult and real leader. I loved Mr. CHHS competitions. I loved how Ms. Griggs lit up when she talked about Jesus. I loved sitting on floats with my friends in the parades. I loved buying Dr. Peppers for the security guard who let me go to Sonic sometimes. In short, I loved the people. They can make or break your high school experience, and I was blessed to have the best people in my high school experience. 

Who was your favorite high school teacher and why?
Oh man, you are trying to get me in trouble! Toni Byam, Wes Watters, Terri Kitzmiller all take first place. They all taught me about life and not just school. It was priceless to have an adult care so much about your future that they didn’t just pour into you academically they cared for you personally. 

What role did GCISD play in your success in the real world? 
GCISD prepared me to lead. The faculty during my time in high school believed that a high schooler could be a leader. As kitschy as it sounds, when I was a high school student, I genuinely believed that my teachers thought I could be something and that I could do something amazing for the world. 

From the time I joined GCISD in the 5th grade, from Mrs. Mullens, to Coach Roe, to Coach Perez, to Mrs. Billman, Mrs. Ikner, Mrs. Griggs, Mrs. Kitzmiller, Doctor Foster, Mr. Watters, Mrs. Orton, Mrs. Kelly, Mr. Metcalf, Mrs. Byam, Mrs. Hodge, Mrs. Wieland, all of these people saw my potential to lead. They saw the future father I was to be, the future husband, the future pastor, and they treated me like the man I was becoming instead of the boy I was at the time.