We are blessed to have a wonderful variety of students on our campus each year. They come from different states and countries, different faith and cultural backgrounds, and are at different stages of life. Rather than place these students into groups (Mennonite, Baptist, Midwest, non-traditional) we try to understand and honor each person’s unique story. The individual student matters here, because our mission is to “educate and nurture each student in Christ-centered community…” This commitment takes time and attention, especially for those most intensely involved in the student’s experience, and also from every employee.
Paying attention to the individual story means that we invest a lot of time in listening, making room for testing gifts, calling for the best possible effort while being patient with mistakes. Just as students come with unique stories, they form unique paths during their time here and in their future education and vocational ventures. In part, our role is to help each student make sense of his or her story while making wise choices for the future. For us, this also means inviting each student to strengthen and grow in their faith pilgrimage, so that they are ready “for service to others in the church and the world.”
As I noted in an earlier column, one of the common themes I hear from Hesston alumni is that they gained confidence during their Hesston years – confidence in their knowledge, relationships, personhood and faith. I would add that nearly every story or testimonial from alumni includes a faculty or staff member who played a special role in this “education and nurture.” This person is often a coach, faculty member or resident director, but the story often includes a campus job supervisor, mod parent or Hesston community person.
This issue highlights the stories of some who represent parts of the Hesston Experience. Their stories began before they came here and continue long after. But for two years at least, we had the privilege of walking with them. Their stories are now part of us.