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Innovative UST is First to Partner with a Streaming Gamer

University of St. Thomas Meeting People Where They Are—Online with “Bearded Blevins”

UST President Richard Ludwick with online gamer and Little Flower Media CEO Jonathan "Bearded" BlevinsIn the exponentially expanding world of online gaming, Jonathan Blevins, aka BeardedBlevins, is unique. And that is why the University of St. Thomas-Houston seized the innovative opportunity to partner with the Catholic streamer from Chicago. It’s an ingenious relationship—the first of its kind for a university—and will benefit both partners in multiple ways.

Meet Jonathan aka BeardedBlevins, Ninja’s Brother

But first, who is 34-year-old Jonathan Blevins? He is a devout Catholic director of evangelization with a master’s in theology. Notably, he is the older brother to the world’s No. 1 professional online gamer, the blue-haired, multi-multi-millionaire “Ninja” (Tyler Blevins). In fact, it was Tyler who suggested that Jonathan turn on the camera while he played at home so the big brother could share the “good news” at the same time and earn additional income to support his wife and three young children.

Still, Jonathan wants everyone to know that, unlike his brother, he is not a professional gamer.

“I don’t consider myself a pro gamer,” Jonathan said. “I don’t win money playing games. Instead, I’m the CEO of a new multimedia company called Little Flower Media. I have two partners, Matthew Marcolini and Matt McClure, and what we do is create engaging cultural content aimed at seeing life through a Catholic lens.”

The relaxed and affable Jonathan calls himself an entertaining person who plays video games and streams. He has 175,000 followers across various social media channels and plans to grow his followers by the millions.

“I’m an above-average player, but I enjoy building community and leading conversation in a welcoming and non-toxic environment,” he added. “And we have a unique space. No other full-time Catholic content creator is using Twitch.”

Mutual Benefits of this Innovative Partnership

So how does this partnership work for Houston’s only Catholic University? St. Thomas will gain strategic exposure and influence with Jonathan’s followers. In particular, he will highlight UST’s esports program and interview the players. He may assist faculty in developing additional courses for the University’s esports program, such as how to influence people positively through streaming, utilize a platform like Twitch and run a winning team. On top of that the Catholic streamer and his partners will appear on MAX Studios podcasts and create content with the producers.

Simultaneously, UST will contribute to growing Jonathan’s follower audience. Moreover, the University’s considerable MAX Studios resources will go to work supporting Jonathan’s new multimedia company and its projects in production.

L-R: Little Flower Media COO Matt Mclure, UST Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Beena George, and "BeardedBlevins"The Innovative Higher Education Thinking Behind this Unique Partnership

The development of this unusual partnership acknowledges the elephant in the room: People are spending more and more time online. And UST knows one has to meet people where they are.

UST Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Beena George said, “Because of advances in technology, we don’t live in a purely physical world. Now, we have the opportunity to use different tech platforms to meet students where they are. This determination to meet students where they are has been a defining characteristic of UST education, and this is a logical next step.”

George also sees the partnership as a way to positively influence the direction of online conversations.

“We wanted to get in there as quickly as possible and provide some guardrails and set an example as more and more students are getting engaged. It can inspire our students, and we can take the good that we’re doing into this new world.”