It doesn’t seem that long ago when the Class of 2014 first set foot on campus, young minds ready to be encouraged, challenged and refined. Today, they’re ready for the next steps in their lives. Before they left campus, we asked some of our most outstanding graduating seniors a simple question: What’s next? Here are some of our favorite answers. Visit georgefox.edu/classof2014 to read more.
Name: Renee Geck
Hometown: Everett, Wash.
What’s Next: Harvard (Biological and Biomedical Sciences PhD program)
Renee Geck’s George Fox experience was highlighted by a rare privilege for an undergraduate biology student – conducting breast cancer research under the tutelage of biology professor John Schmitt. “He has been a wonderful mentor to me, and those summers helped me determine what I want to do in the future,” she recalls.
A big part of that future will begin this fall when Geck will move to Boston to pursue a PhD in Harvard’s Biological and Biomedical Sciences program. And while her professors were instrumental in helping Geck with the application and interview process, it was the solid faith foundation they provided that she will remember most. “Science is a field that many people think can be hostile to Christian faith,” she says. “I am grateful for the integration of faith into my studies at George Fox.”
Name: Nolan Staples
Hometown: Newberg, Ore.
What’s Next: Pastor for Worship Ministries, Newberg Friends Church
Nolan Staples didn’t have to look far for his first job out of college. After attending Newberg Friends Church his entire life, he will now take over the church’s worship ministry on an interim basis, which after one year could lead to a permanent position.
Ironically, Staples’ original plan called for leaving George Fox after a year or two to attend music school across the country in Boston. But after a semester on campus, he knew he was home. “I learned about the importance of building strong relationships with those around me,” he says. “I have come out on the other side of four great years with so many friendships that I will always cherish, and those friendships are what have defined my experience at George Fox.”
Name: Jahnathon Larson
Hometown: Antioch, Calif.
Major: Biblical Studies
What’s Next: Yale Divinity School (Master of Arts in Religion program)
Jahnathon Larson was anything but a traditional student when he first set foot on campus. After spending six years in the military and an additional five years working construction, he doubted his place in the classroom. But thanks to encouragement from professors like Brian Doak and Tim Tsohantaridis, he found the confidence to pursue an academic path beyond anything he could have imagined.
The words of Tsohantaridis, in particular, had a lasting impact. “He pulled me aside and said that if I stopped after George Fox, it would be a waste,” recalls Larson. The result of such unabashed honesty? Larson was recently accepted into Yale Divinity School and will enter the school’s Master of Arts in Religion program this fall.
Name: Casey Siuniak
Hometown: Santa Paula, Calif.
What’s Next: Reliability Engineer, Lattice Semiconductor
For many, the post-graduation job search can be a stressful time. Not so for Casey Siuniak – she had a position in her field lined up before she even received her diploma. Siuniak will work in the Reliability Group at Lattice Semiconductor in Hillsboro, Ore., ensuring that parts the company produces hold up under extreme conditions.
During her time at George Fox, Siuniak gained lifelong friends and the confidence that she could take on any engineering challenge that was presented to her. But perhaps the biggest lesson came from simply watching how her professors conducted themselves on a daily basis. “I think there are many people who believe that Christianity and science do not go together,” she says. “My professors have shown me that is not true – you can be a great physicist, scientist or engineer and still be a strong Christian.”
Name: Benjamin Holtrop
Hometown: Independence, Ore.
What’s Next: Curator, Visual Supply Co. (VSCO)
Art major Benjamin Holtrop can often be found behind the lens of a camera, a passion that has grown during his time at George Fox. “Doing what you love is so important,” he says. That’s often easier said than done in the ultra-competitive field, which makes it all the more impressive that Holtrop secured a position as a photography curator with Visual Supply Co., a fast-growing art and technology company that any young creative would love to list on their resume.
The competition was so fierce, in fact, that he was one of just two applicants selected for the job out of a pool of more than 2,000. Now working in the company’s Colorado Springs, Colo., office, Holtrop won’t soon forget his time in Newberg. “I have learned so much about community, trust and faith through faculty and friends,” he says. “My experience at George Fox has been one that has deeply influenced my life.”
Name: McKenzie Wolfe
Hometown: Newberg, Ore.
What’s Next: Accountant, Moss Adams LLP
One of McKenzie Wolfe’s favorite memories from her time at George Fox was participating in the Division III national championship game in 2012 as a member of the women’s basketball team. “Every year that I’ve participated on the basketball team has pushed me and shaped me into becoming a better leader, friend and woman of God,” she says.
Now that her collegiate career is behind her, Wolfe is joining another powerhouse team as an accountant at the Portland office of Moss Adams LLP, a financial services firm with 22 locations nationwide and more than $400 million in revenue. She credits her time as a student in the university’s College of Business for helping her get there. “While at George Fox I have been pushed and pulled in all areas of my life, shaping me into the person I am today,” she says. “This was an amazing place for me to grow.”