PARENTS: JT (’84) and Tess Roetlin
My dad and then my older sister paved the way by coming to Hesston. Every time I visited, I loved the feeling of community around campus. I wanted a school where I could be challenged academically while also being part of a supportive community. Hesston gave me both of those things.
I plan on getting my undergraduate degree in biology at either the University of California, Irvine or Scripps College (Claremont, Calif.). Eventually, I hope to go to medical school and become a doctor. I’d like to find a career in pediatric oncology.
Ways to serve
One of the highlights of my Hesston Experience was serving as a patient-care volunteer with Good Shepherd Hospice (Newton, Kan.). I love helping and getting to know people. I had never thought about being a hospice volunteer until we had a chapel presentation about volunteer opportunities. After a month or two of debating whether or not I should volunteer, I decided to sign up and begin the process. I wanted to volunteer for hospice and learn how to be in a setting where death is possible. For me, it was exposure to situations that will be part of my career as a doctor someday, and I learned to be more compassionate.
My favorite part of the experience was building relationships with people. I really enjoyed watching patients interact with their family members. But it was also the hardest part. It is a mix of emotions. They are happy for the time they have with one another, but they are also sad because they know it is going to come to an end soon. In my interactions with patients and observations of them with the people they love, I was encouraged to value the people in my own life more. I’ve tried to be better about making time for strengthening and building relationships. It’s also made me more present in situations instead of being on the phone or being distracted, but really focusing.
Serving in a hospice setting carries a stigma of being overwhelmingly sad and depressing. While there is sadness that people are in the end stages of life, it’s also such a blessing to be able to connect with them and learn from their life experiences and stories. I coped with the hard times by knowing I got to spend time with people who are going through a very difficult thing and I could be a source of light in an otherwise dark situation.
Learning from experiences
I am someone who likes to do things for myself and I don’t like asking for help. My time as a hospice volunteer and my time at Hesston College with so much support from instructors, fellow resident assistants and others, has prepared me for the future by showing me that being independent doesn’t mean you don’t need support from others. I’ve grown more comfortable looking to other people for help.