This weekend, as Goshen College welcomes the return of 11 graduated classes to campus, I am reminded of my own Goshen College identity.My parents met here at Goshen. My mom was a right-brained art major from Oregon. My dad, in contrast, was a Pennsylvania farm boy dreaming of medical school. One day, my mom caught a glimpse of my dad walking across the dining hall. She thought to herself, “Now that is who I’m going to marry!”
My dad, however, must’ve had other plans–he asked out my mom’s roommate. Luckily, the date flopped and my parents started dating instead. As many love stories say, the rest was history. My parents graduating class will be present this weekend for their 30-year-reunion.
My parents weren’t the only ones to attend Goshen. Many of my aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings have, as well. I have loved the Goshen College blood that pumps through me. When I was little, it meant receiving a giant Goshen sweatshirt for Christmas and wearing it for years until it was small and ratty. It meant hearing the college stories at the dinner table and family reunions. For example, the night my mom stole a pile of clothes belonging to a group of unclothed male friends running a “secret” loop around the track. Where did she put them? At the foot of the cross near Newcomer.
Yet having “Goshen College blood” has certainly had its downsides. During my first year here, I often felt I was playing a predetermined role in my family’s history. I was aware of how my instant connections made non-Mennonite students feel left-out and creeped-out. I wondered how much of my experience was mine, or just what I thought it should be.
However, now that my fourth year has started, I’m realizing that my identity here has morphed into my own. My friends are my own, my major is my own and my memories are my own. Yes, I may share my alma mater with my relatives and many others, but my experiences are still unique. And yet on the flip side, though I share my alma mater with a diversity of people, years and ages, Goshen College is a shared experience within that diversity.
I see homecoming weekend as a warm embrace of Goshen College identity. Whether a student of the past or present, whether bearing multi-generational or first-generation “Goshen blood,” whether young or old, all are welcome to return to this campus. Welcome classes of 2002, 1992, 1987, 1982, 1977, 1972, 1967, 1962, 1957, 1952 and 1947!