The Goshen College campus safety team can be seen monitoring campus, responding to calls, making rounds when campus buildings close and providing rides to those walking after dark.One officer, Kris Polega, has unique qualifications: a Master of Divinity and a black belt in taekwondo.
In her second year in the position, Polega is a GC and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) graduate.
Polega grew up in Goshen and moved back to finish her college degree as a single mother with two children.
“I came back to Goshen, which is where I grew up and where my mom was, so I could start over but also get help with my two young kids,” said Polega.
Polega enrolled as a non-traditional student with an interdisciplinary major in religion, Spanish and writing.
“As a commuter student with two young kids, it was hard for me to relate to the students here at GC,” Polega stated. “I did appreciate many of them, their insights, and [their] energy!”
Though she ended up feeling closer to professors, Polega was able to connect with other students after playing on the softball team.
“Overall my time at GC was a time of great personal growth for me and provided some spiritual and emotional healing from my divorce, which prompted me to want to go on to seminary,” Polega said.
Polega graduated from GC in 2006 and went on to pursue her M.Div. at AMBS in Elkhart. She graduated from there in 2017.
Polega learned about the Peacemakers Academy when her children, 11 and nine at the time, became interested in taekwondo and she took them there for classes.
At the Peacemakers Academy, Polega realized, they did more work to defend themselves verbally and physically than they did to attack. The academy taught peacemaking and conflict transformation skills, so Polega enrolled herself as well.
Polega earned her black belt in taekwondo alongside her daughter and worked with the program to help teach. After a few years Polega took over, but she was forced to close the Academy during the pandemic.
Over the years, Polega has worked in different roles at GC, including summers with the physical plant and custodial work. When she received a call from the director of campus security offering her a position as campus safety officer, she accepted.
Polega said, “Ever since I returned to Goshen, I’ve been attached to GC in one way or another.”