Several weeks ago I set off from Newberg in a rented minivan bound for San Francisco. Joining me on the inaugural George Fox Ultimate Road Trip was alumnus Tyler VanderZanden ’11, who had graduated only four days earlier. We knew the purpose and goals of our trip, but neither of us really knew what to expect once we hit the road. In fact, when I invited Tyler along, my only requirement was that he would be flexible. He was. And together, we had a remarkable time connecting with members of the George Fox family.
Over the course of seven days, we met with more than 60 alumni, parents (of current and past students), prospective students, and friends of George Fox. We hosted gatherings in several towns, visited in coffee shops, conversed over meals, and were welcomed into several homes. We even attended a church service in Redding, California pastored by a George Fox Evangelical Seminary grad and a current student at the seminary. One of our most exciting realizations was that we met with alumni from every decade since the 1940s!
Most impactful though, were the stories that we heard along the journey. Alumni talked about the things they loved most about their George Fox experience and the faculty members that had deeply affected them as students and on into their professional lives. Others shared tidbits of George Fox history that they witnessed first hand – an exciting experience for the history buff in me. Parents talked about how their sons and daughters had found a home at George Fox, a community where they were nurtured, challenged, and prepared for life after school. And many of the people we met with asked really good questions about what is going on at George Fox today, giving us the opportunity to talk about the launch of football, the new doctor of physical therapy program, plans for a new student union building, and much more.
Despite the fact that Tyler and I really had no idea how our trip would turnout, it is safe to say that we were both incredibly blessed by our interactions with such incredible people. My hope, and my belief, is that the people we connected with were equally blessed. I know that we helped re-establish a number of connections to George Fox, and we developed some wonderful friendships in the process.
Personally, this trip energized me for the ongoing work of keeping our alumni connected to this incredible institution. We have amazing alumni, and I love that I have the opportunity to work with and for them on a daily basis.
Director of Alumni Relations