EASTERN | Fall 2022

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The Magazine of Eastern University
FALL 2022 impact

Created for of Impact.


Humans are born with a deep-seated desire for meaning. We long to know that we are making a difference in the world around us – that our lives matter.

As Christ-followers, we find guidance and inspiration in the teachings and ministry of Jesus. We learn that a life of impact is a life of love, of service, and of laying down our lives for others. We learn that God’s Spirit wants to empower us to “bring God’s kingdom” — helping to shape a world that looks more like the way God imagined it to be.

This kind of impact has a legacy. It made a mark in the first century, and it is continuing to make a mark today.

“This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world,” Colossians 1:6 records. “It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.”

This issue of EASTERN magazine chronicles stories of students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are making a difference in the world around them. As you read their stories, I invite you to ask yourself, “What does Spirit-empowered impact look like for me?” When we recite the Lord’s prayer, what do you envision when you pray, “Your kingdom come?”

As you explore this edition of EASTERN magazine, I pray that you would be inspired to bring God’s kingdom to our world in the unique ways he has equipped you to. May you be challenged and encouraged by the stories in these pages, and energized to carry on in the mission to which God has called you.

Onward and upward,

Kent Dear Alumni & Friends,


The Esperanza community is solutionsfocused as they combat issues of injustice head-on in their city. Eastern and Palmer alumnus Saroj Chettri, MA ’16, MDiv ’22, pursues his education to impact his home country of Nepal.

“Service Learning” provides students with their first immersive encounter with Eastern’s commitment to Faith, Reason, and Justice. The new Dragonfly Wellness Center provides the EU community with a safe space and resources to talk about trauma healing.


Rebecca Gidjunis ’01 recounts how Board of Trustee member Mario Martinez ’15 came to Eastern from El Salvador and went on to make a significant impact through his inspiring outlook on hard work, business, and relationships.


In our classrooms, on the field, and around the world, the Eastern University impact is far-reaching and ever widening. With innovative leadership, strategic thinking, dynamic community, and a faithful God, Eastern is poised to impact the world.


As Eastern's student-athlete population continues to grow, the athletics department is expanding to provide academic, spiritual, personal, and physical support resources.

publisher / KELLY GODDARD Editor-in-Chief / ALLY (HOLMES) ROSARIO ’ 14, MEd ’21 Creative Director & Lead Designer / DANIEL PEIRCE , mts ’23 Photographer & Cover Photography / ELYSE GARNER ’ 1 3 Designer / ALAINA MOSSO ADDITIONAL PHOTO & ILLUSTRATION CREDITS / JPG PHOTO AND VIDEO (16) ALISA WISMER / @alisawismer (32) Please send comments or article suggestions to: media@eastern.edu Alumni news should be sent to: alumni@eastern.edu Palmer Seminary alumni news should be sent to: palmeralum@eastern.edu PUBLISHED BY Marketing and Communications at Eastern University ONLINE AT eastern.edu/MAGAZINE

Service learning


– a first-year student requirement with a twofold meaning. The Service Learning component of Eastern’s education encourages our students to step out of their comfort zones so that they can not only serve under-resourced communities and engage issues of systemic injustice, but also learn from these communities and individuals they interact with.

For our first-year students, Service Learning is their first immersive encounter with Eastern’s commitment to Faith, Reason, and Justice.

Megan Acedo, Coordinator of Student Ministries and Service Learning, shares, “My hope is that students would have an understanding that most of the issues these individuals face are not something that they put on themselves. The justice issues our students address are systemic in nature. The idea that you should ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ is an American myth.

Service Learning is about community, mutual support, and a sense of compassion for fellow human beings.”

To fulfill their service learning requirements, Eastern students serve with a variety of local nonprofit agencies such as Urban Promise, Habitat for Humanity, YACHT (Youth

Against Complacency and Homelessness Today) Club, MANNA, and Prison Ministry. Within these placements, students address injustices such as poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, housing insecurity, and education inequality.

Over the 2019-2020 academic year, EU firstyear students completed approximately 7,200 hours of service through our Service Learning program, which is estimated to be just under $200,000 of work done. In the Fall 2022 semester, EU first-years are estimated to have completed 7,950 hours which translates to $240,000 worth of service in just one semester!

This fall, our new Eagles spent a Saturday morning at Urban Promise in Camden, NJ. There, they served the community by building furniture, repainting parking spots, weeding, mulching, and so much more.


Introducing the


Health & Wellness Room

IN MANY CULTURES around the world, dragonflies symbolize hope, new beginnings, and transformation, so it seems fitting that this beautiful little insect would influence Eastern’s new Health and Wellness Room. Named with intention, the Dragonfly Health & Wellness Room is intended to provide a safe and educational environment for our Eastern community to ground themselves, connect with God, and experience healing, recovery, and transformation through the many resources provided.


TO LEARN MORE about the impact of this space, we invited Ashlee Williams, Eastern’s Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Deputy Title IX Coordinator, who spearheaded the project, to share her vision for the space.

A: The space was created for our Eastern community and was inspired by the need for trauma survivors to have a place to utilize tools that enhance the work they may be doing in therapy and their own spiritual communities. We are hopeful that students, faculty, staff, and administrators will engage the space and contribute to holistically educating themselves on the process of self-care and healing.

Q: What are some key features of the space?

A: The space includes two swinging egg chairs, a set of bolsters, mats, blocks, and cushions for yoga and mindfulness practices, a potting bench including succulents, soil, tools for planting, and gardening activities that can be used for grounding exercises. Additionally, there is a drum table that holds puzzles, and a coffee and tea bar for individuals to enjoy as they utilize the “It’s On Us” MiniLibrary resource featuring faith-based and therapy-based books on sexual violence prevention, trauma recovery, boundary setting, healthy relationships, and mindfulness practices.

Q: Where does the funding come from for this space?

A: The funding for this space came from the Pennsylvania Department of Education's, “It's On Us” Grant. Eastern

was awarded $60,000 to spend over two years to engage, educate, and train our community on addressing and preventing sexual violence on our campus and in our communities. The funds have also been utilized to provide student training, host educational workshops, start a mindfulness-based book club series on the book The Body Keeps the Score, and to build up a trauma-informed resource library, among many other things.

Q: How do you hope to see this space impact our community?

A: I would love to see the space turn into a place where complex and difficult conversations occur in a supportive environment. This space can serve our community by strengthening relationships between students, faculty, staff, and administrators, which will hopefully in turn build trust and boldness to ask for help if needed.

I see this space as a symbol of how our individual and collective experiences converge to transform our community. Overall, I believe that the opportunity for community members to connect with themselves, each other, and God in new ways will ultimately strengthen our community.

Q: What inspired this Health & Wellness space?



5 years of creative leadership, Spirit-led discernment, and Christ-centered communitybuilding. Also 5 years of joyous piano playing, festive suits, and thoughtful and intentional care. This coming March, we enthusiastically celebrate 5 years of President Ronald Matthews, Eastern’s 10th president. To mark this milestone, we reached out to President Matthews to hear his reflections on the past 5 years and his hopes for the next 5.

Q: How have you grown in the past 5 years?

A: For most of my life and by God's grace and mercy, I have been aware of my dependency on God. This role as president has provided an increasingly conscious dependency on God for pretty much everything. Eastern is such an amazing place where I find multiple blessings in serving with and learning from our community. To work with such great people, including our Cabinet, our Leadership Team, our Board of Trustees, our Faculty and Staff, our Alumni and Donors, and our Students, evokes joy and awe in the mystery of God's will and call in my life.


How has the EU community impacted you?

A: I have been shaped by EU since 1992 when I came to Eastern. I had never seen or been a part of a Christian community that disagreed so well. The energizing conversations, arguments, and positions were stimulating, motivating, respectful, and edifying. I was so honored and grateful to become a part of a tradition and community of diverse, godly, and brilliant thinkers and practitioners. I have been able to learn from alumni and colleagues who have impacted communities by asking and addressing hard questions, developing creative options and directions, and sharing the love and values of Jesus and the Kingdom of God generously and beyond convenience.

Q: How is Eastern impacting the world?

A: When I think of EU and the world, I think of our timely and timeless mission of Faith, Reason, and Justice.

Eastern people have the courage to love God and love our neighbors, including our enemies. We want to exhibit, experience, and work for the unity for which Jesus prayed, for the deep and eternal ties of belonging together. We prioritize faith-shaped opportunities and Kingdom risks over reputation and, at times, even resources. We have alumni all over the world doing known and unknown work for the benefit of others in Jesus' name. The diversity and variety of people, relationships, programs, and services, all contribute in some mystical way to what Isaiah witnessed when he heard the angels calling back and forth, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of God's glory."

Q: Any final thoughts you'd like to share?

A: Everything stems from "God so loved the world."

God gave; God gives. God gave a member of the divine, intimate, triune relationship. God gives the capacity to believe. God gave us the Word in flesh, scripture, and sacrament. God gives abundant and eternal life. I hope we remain a compassionate community of Spirit-led, skilled, humble, and passionate people who revel in God and serve everyone entrusted to us.


Eastern’s rich legacy has always included a strong community, forward-looking approaches to education, and Christ-centered engagement with the wider global society. After spending the last year updating and clarifying our Mission, Vision, and Values, Eastern is soundly positioned to move forward in living out our calling.

The development of our new Strategic Plan has been a community effort, strengthened by the active participation of many people who care about Eastern University. The title reflects our collective hope for what we will accomplish together: Inspire. Innovate. Impact. I am grateful to the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and Board members who participated in the collaborative process of creating and refining the goals that will guide and shape our energies in the upcoming season.

Our strategic plan outlines five imperatives that we have identified as key action steps for Eastern to take over the next five years to strengthen and amplify our mission.


Strategic Plan 2022-2027: Inspire. Innovate. impact.



We will continue to promote our Christian Mission and Values within and beyond the University community.


We will provide innovative, high-quality curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular experiences for all students.


We will intentionally and systemically create a united, diverse, and equitable Christian community of belonging.



We will continue to invest in our employees' well-being with a focus on compensation, quality of life, recruitment, and retention.



We will elevate the Eastern experience through increased income and philanthropic support of University strategic initiatives.

As I look ahead to the next five years, I am filled with anticipation. Empowered by the Holy Spirit and strengthened by the collaboration of our amazing community, it will be a joy to watch these imperatives come to life as we work hand in hand toward our shared goals.

Here’s to the next chapter of preparing Eastern University graduates to impact the world through Faith, Reason, and Justice!

You can read the full details and sub-goals of these imperatives at eastern.edu/impact.



Eastern’s new football program fosters personal development alongside athletic excellence.

A perfectly clear October sky stretches a bright blue background against the new turf football field. It’s Homecoming Friday, and for the first time ever, Eastern University students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni have gathered for a home football game.

The bleachers are packed when the cheerleaders, dance team, and football players race out onto the field in an energetic blaze of maroon, white, and silver. Flags are waving, pom poms are flashing, and the smell of hamburgers lingers in the air from the pregame tailgate that took place in the parking lot over the last few hours.

While the colors, energy, and school spirit paint a beautiful picture, this only touches the surface of the new football program. What's at the core of this new team? What do they value?


I. Courage

Starting a new football program isn’t for the faint of heart. Head Coach Billy Crocker moved up from Elon University in North Carolina to start the program, fully aware of the grit, perseverance, and passion it would take. Early on in the journey, he shared:

"The success of this program will not be achieved by me and my staff alone, but by the entire campus community. It is going to take a lot of hard work by many different people in various capacities to make this happen – but I have no doubt it is going to happen.

"That is what makes this so exciting – the collaboration combined with the drive to build something historic. We are going to do this the right way and we are going to create a football program that the entire campus community can be proud of.”

Building a new program takes courage for the players as well. “I’m the first to go to college out of my family,” shares defensive end Sa-Fee Booker, Pre-Med ’26. This semester, Sa-Fee had to take a few weeks off from football due to a medical issue, but he described how the team supported him through the process. “My team told me to hang in there. We support and we get the support back.”

II. Character

Along with athletic excellence, the athletic department is focused on the personal development of the players through the sport.

“Athletics can be a powerful vehicle for character development,” shares Eric McNelley, Director of Athletics. “Timeless values like discipline, perseverance, teamwork, and resilience are formed in the regular routines of practice, training, and competition.”

Linebacker Logan McGowan, Business Administration ’26, shares, “The coaches emphasize values like showing up, being on time, leadership, people skills, and going to class.” He continues, “I chose Eastern because it felt like home. I liked Coach Crocker’s resume, but also his attitude.”

Eastern is also attentive to the spiritual development of the players. Rev. Dr. Alyn Waller, Senior Pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia and a member of Eastern’s Board of Trustees, is serving as Director of Spiritual Formation and Student-Athlete Mentorship for the Football team. Rev. Waller meets with the team and coaching staff frequently, prays with them before games, and has extended himself as a resource for support. The whole team even recently attended a Sunday worship service together at Enon Tabernacle when Rev. Waller was preaching.

- Billy Crocker, Head Football Coach

III. Community

Finally, and not surprisingly to those who know Eastern, community is a clear value of the program. The 94 new football players who made Eastern their home this year are predominantly first-year students and thus creating a new life on campus together, forming meaningful relationships through interactions both on and off the field.

“It’s crazy how on the first day no one knew each other, and now we’re like one big family,” shares Logan. “I live with four other football players so we’re together all the time.”

Sa-Fee elaborates, “I like how the team all came together. We’ve got people from Philly, Florida, down South…it’s great to meet other people. I wasn’t expecting a first-year program to be locked in so far, but the chemistry is really there.”

Along with the players, the football program is also fostering an atmosphere of community through the positive environment shaped by events like the Homecoming Tailgate. Before the game, the parking lot was full of students, faculty, staff, and alumni playing corn hole and ladder ball, eating hot dogs and hamburgers, and excitedly affixing temporary eagle tattoos to their cheeks. Athletic events have a unique way of bringing people together, and Eastern Football has been doing a great job of that so far.

Iv. looking ahead

This year is a building year for the new team. They are practicing hard and scrimmaging Junior Varsity teams at other universities in the MAC Conference. Meanwhile, their gaze is fixed on Fall '23, when they will begin NCAA DIII competition. As they move forward, their strong foundation of courage, character, and community is sure to take these new Eagles far.



IN THE s , Central Baptist Church in Wayne, PA served as sanctuary for Salvadoran refugees escaping a brutal civil war. One Sunday school room still holds a portrait of Óscar Romero, the priest who was murdered for speaking on behalf of the marginalized. His life inspires Salvadorans and Americans alike.

In 2010, my partner, Joe, accompanied the youth from CBC to El Salvador. It was a mission trip unlike any we’d known before. Instead of performing charitable acts, the group went to listen, learn, and build relationships.

B U S I N E S S T H A T ’ S P E R S O N A L

The experience changed Joe and, by proxy, me. A year later, we sat in the pews at CBC, and read that a student from El Salvador wanted to attend Eastern University but needed housing. I grabbed a stubby pencil — the kind you use to fill out a visitor card — and circled the request, nudging Joe.

We were young professionals with no parenting experience and no idea whom we would be inviting into our home. We just knew that his name was Mario Martinez and that he really, really wanted to attend college. We said yes.

Mario took Eastern by storm. He started his own investment business, Wisdom Capital, as a sophomore. At the outset, his company purchased distressed debt at deep discounts, restructuring loans to make it affordable for people to stay in their homes. This strategy generated great returns, appealing to investors with a heart for social transformation.

Between classes and managing investment portfolios, Mario frequented the Eastern business department to discuss everything from ethics to venture capitalism to B-corps. Soon, Mario’s vision solidified: businesses can impact the world for good.

During Mario’s years at Eastern, we played many board games. Whenever he won (which was often), he would joke, “It’s not personal; it’s just business.”

Joe and I always laughed because with Mario, everything was personal. Whether brokering a multimillion dollar deal with a developer or feeding someone experiencing housing insecurity, Mario’s philosophy was (and is) that every venture, vocation,

and relationship is, at its core, about making an impact as people made in the image of a loving God.

I often think of the moment Mario’s parents put him on a plane to the U.S. with their deepest prayers and biggest wishes. It is the greatest kind of impact – giving your child the best life you can imagine even if it means letting go.

Since graduating in 2015, Mario’s company has grown substantially to include well-performing mortgage loans and mixed-use real estate in the Philadelphia suburbs. In 2020, Mario agreed to serve on Eastern University’s Board of Trustees, lending vital insight to our operations, goals, and future.

“The people at Eastern were instrumental in my professional development by encouraging me to take risks and pursue my goals,” Mario shares. “I would not have graduated with three majors while simultaneously growing Wisdom Capital without the support of my family, friends (many of whom I met at Eastern), professors, and staff.”

The arrival of Mario, and eventually his two sisters, to our home and university has meant a new flourish of energy, vision, and purpose. In the same way that the CBC youth went to learn instead of do, my partner and I have had the distinct pleasure of learning from the Martinez family.

We’ve learned how to love better, think strategically for the greater good, and, most of all, how to let go and watch your beloved flourish.

Mario with Rebecca, Joe, and his parents in El Salvador



Esperanza Students Shape the Culture of their Community

PHILADELPHIA IS A BEAUTIFUL and historic city full of fascinating contrasts and opportunity. But in spite of its charm, its citizens are in need of hope as struggles with poverty, violence, and chronic health issues plague our neighborhoods. Philadelphia has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the United States, with great prevalence among Hispanic and African American communities. The wave of violence is also especially prevalent in Philadelphia, with shootings continuing at a record high.

Planted in the heart of Philadelphia, Esperanza College of Eastern University (ECEU) has decided to take action.

To address these problems in our beautiful city, students and faculty at Esperanza are working together with community partners and applying what they learn in class and lab as they seek to provide hope and create a culture of sustainable, positive change.

ECEU Health Sciences students are working with community partners on Champions of Hope: Latinos Preventing Diabetes. This multi-year, grant-funded project provides training for our students to educate prediabetic community members on diabetes prevention and provide preventative resources. Additionally, our students have started a club in collaboration with middle school, high school, and college students to develop an app (Diabuddy) providing educational content to encourage healthy habits for users in the community.

To expand the reach of Champions of Hope, ECEU’s Media and Technology (MTECH) faculty and students are creating content and digital storytelling to promote the project. It’s been said that “he who tells the best stories shapes culture,” and our students are doing just that through engaging video production, creative web design and app development, social media management, and even a fascinating short film to raise awareness.

To combat the problem of violence in the city, students and faculty are working on an anti-violence, grant-funded project which seeks to provide a safe environment for students off the streets. This included hosting summer camps and various internship experiences to provide safe and engaging opportunities for the youth in the city, including focuses in STEM, diabetes research, and eSports. The eSports camp exposed students to different aspects of the eSports industry, and MTECH students gained valuable experience working on the multicam production stream of the eSports tournament held at the end of the camp.

Yes, we are still existing in uncertain times in our city with the many problems we face, but instead of sitting in despair, Esperanza faculty and students are energized by the opportunities to make an impact and shape the culture of our city one project at a time.

Instead of sitting in despair, Esperanza faculty and students are energized by the opportunities to make an impact and shape the culture of our city one project at a time.”

Becoming God’s Loving Ambassador

is on Mission to Serve Nepal

SAROJ CHETTRI, MA ’16, MD iv ’22 was born in Nepal, a beautiful land rich in natural resources and home to the highest mountain in the world – Mt. Everest. Yet in spite of its beauty, this landlocked country has been ranked the fourth most corrupt country in South Asia, overwhelmed by poverty, political instability, and extreme natural disasters.

Growing up, Saroj's mother inspired him to follow and serve like Jesus – a radical choice since Nepal’s population is over 80% Hindu. The high cost of following Christ has resulted in missionaries fleeing and ultimately, Christians losing their lives. “In 2009, I witnessed a friend who was a priest being shot to death,” Saroj shares. “In another incident, I was in a church when a bomb exploded, killing three congregants.”

And yet, in spite of these dangerous circumstances, Saroj has committed his life to following Jesus and bridging the gap for his people. In the midst of this persecution, Saroj staunchly believes, “God is working in Nepal and will change this situation.”

“I heard the call to help others in my youth, and after witnessing the poverty and violence in my country, I quit my well-paid teaching job to join a Christian nonprofit to help those in need,” Saroj shares. This decision brought him to World Vision International, as a Sponsorship Coordinator. “Through these projects I coordinated, we built classrooms, libraries, and clinics; we also trained teachers to provide quality education, distributed school and farming materials –all impacting thousands of lives in Nepal and Timor-Leste.”

While overcoming some extreme challenges that nearly made it impossible, Saroj spearheaded a project in Nepal that helped provide year-round water supply to the village of Rauta desperate for this basic need. As a result, Rauta has grown the produce they need to sustain themselves and bolster the village economy.

As God continued to utilize and grow his love for people, Saroj desired a stronger framework for this passion. When he arrived at Eastern University as a student in the International Development master’s program, he sensed this was the place where his faith and his passion for serving the world intersected.

An internship component in the program connected Saroj with Habitat for Humanity where he was eventually promoted to Neighborhood Revitalization Manager. Here his desire to weave his faith into his secular work became even more apparent. “I still desired a deeper connection between scripture and the expression of my faith in the development sector, so I decided to pursue a second master’s degree through the theological seminary at Palmer.”


Since graduating with his MDiv in 2022, Saroj's work has taken him to many different communities in the US, providing exposure and contextualization for our world and its diverse challenges. “I love how God was refining me and offering me growth in areas I never expected,” Saroj reflects. “Palmer Theological Seminary provided me with both vital theological and practical guidance and knowledge to equip me as I respond to God’s calling in vocational ministry.”

Saroj currently co-pastors at First Baptist Church of Philadelphia and serves in the many community outreach ministries, specifically in serving those experiencing homelessness. “I believe everyone is made in the image of God, and it is our responsibility to care for ‘the least’ of our brothers and sisters,” he shares.

Once again, Saroj is pursuing a third Eastern degree: his PhD in Organizational Leadership. When he finishes, Saroj plans on returning to serve Nepal. “In the future, I will witness a stable government with good leadership and holistic development in Nepal. Please keep praying for my country, that God continues to work and bring it peace and prosperity. Pray that God provides wisdom to the leaders and allows religious freedom so that Christians can become God’s loving ambassadors.”

“I believe everyone is made in the image of God, and it is our responsibility to care for ‘the least’ of our brothers and sisters.”

eagles positioned for holistic growth

WHILE EASTERN ATHLETICS is adding teams on the field, the team behind the teams has grown as well. With a rapidly growing department, Eastern University Athletics is working to build student-athlete success. Through the addition of new sport offerings and the deepening of rosters, EU surpassed 500 student-athletes this year. To accomodate the growth, Eastern Athletics has expanded our support structure.

“Our goal,” said Athletic Director Eric McNelley, “Is to serve each athlete well. We have more athletes now than we have ever had, but we hope that our leadership, staffing, and programs will enable our department to serve each individual in a way that was not possible when we were smaller.”

This support comes from a lot of different areas.


Brian Bingaman, Associate Athletic Director for Performance, Health, and Wellness, looks like a strength coach, and that is a big part of what he does. His work, however, is bigger than managing two weight rooms and a five-person strength and conditioning staff. He works closely with head

coaches, sports medicine, and academic support to ensure that student-athletes have every resource they need to succeed in all areas of life.

“We have a lot of great resources,” Bingaman said, “but I don’t know that anyone really knows how much work goes into coordinating all these things to make sure our students are positioned to be well and succeed.”

This year, the strength staff has incorporated what they call the “EAGLE” standard into their training.

“We want our athletes to get stronger and be faster,” he continued. “But we really want them to embrace the ideas of Energy, Accountability, Grit, Love, Engagement, and care for teammates. We hope that time in our strength and conditioning program helps them to be better leaders on campus and in their careers.”


Through last year, Associate Athletic Director Heidi Birtwistle initiated a program providing academic support specific to our student-athletes. The goal of the program is to monitor academic progress, connect student-athletes with on-campus resources, and develop positive academic habits to help them thrive.


playing field,” shares Chaplain Joe Modica. “They embody compassion, active listening, respect and most importantly, love as demonstrated by the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.”

The goal is for each athletic team to have two designated Team Chaplains, totalling over 40 Team Chaplains on the roster. Chaplains will participate in trainings and workshops each semester, meet one-on-one with Chaplain Joe Modica, and support their respective teams as needs arise.

Our department is energized by the growth we’re seeing, and we are thrilled to be able to anticipate student-athlete needs and build out a holistic support structure for them.

“If we see an athlete struggling in one area,” Brian Bingaman explains, “It's quite possible that is just a symptom of something bigger going on. We want to help our athletes access whatever kind of support they’re needing to equip them to succeed.” This fall, Ashlee Williams, previously Dean of Students, joined the Athletic Department as an Athletic Academic Counselor, among other things. As one of the academic counselors, Ashlee will meet individually with students from each of Eastern’s 24 teams to provide academic help specific to the student’s needs, ranging from time management, study strategies, and connecting with academic resources, as well as creating opportunities for student-athletes to be supported in their transition to college in general.


Athletics and the Office of Faith and Practice have joined together to develop a robust student-athlete Team Chaplaincy program. The program was intended to launch in Spring of 2020, but was halted by COVID shutdowns. With over two years to observe and anticipate the needs of a growing athletics program, both departments are thrilled to train and support our Team Chaplains as they lead and support our teams in their faith development.

“Team Chaplains are intentional catalysts for faith development and spiritual formation on-and-off the



It is well known that Eastern University alumni are making an impact all over the world, but did you know that many return to make an impact on our own campus?

Every year, we’re thrilled to have alumni return to their alma mater to assist, guide, and raise up new generations of difference-makers to impact the world through Eastern’s mission of Faith, Reason, and Justice.

We invited several of our alumni who are currently working at Eastern to share about the impact EU has had on them and the impact they hope to leave behind.



program position service

MA in Counseling, Masters in Theological Studies (EBTS)

Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology, Special Assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity, and Belonging 27 years at Eastern

I love the Christ-centered mission and purposedriven focus of our work. Eastern is a good place with good people who are working to do good in the world. I've been preparing and shaping the next generation of counselors and psychotherapists who know how to create safe spaces where people can process, discover, grow, and heal. Eastern has been a platform for me to help fulfill my Godgiven purpose as a healer. I hope to be remembered as a healer and bridge-builder who exemplified the active love of Christ.

LORI DZIEDZIAK ’01, MA ’07 program position service

BA in Psychology and Youth Ministry, MA in Clinical Psychology Disability Accommodations Counselor in the Cushing Center for Counseling & Academic Support 15 years at Eastern

25 years ago, I took my first steps on this campus, not knowing that it would become so much more than my University. I met and cultivated the best friendships of my life here, one of them being my husband of 21 years. At Eastern, my work is to help find inroads, decrease barriers, and create spaces where students can access their goals. I hope that in all that I do, that I am known as someone who really listens well to others and makes the world a little bit better.

DAVID BRADSTREET ’76, MS, PhD program position service

BS in Astronomy, BA Communication Studies, BS Secondary Ed Professor and Chair of Astronomy & Physics, Observatory/Planetarium Director 46 years at Eastern

In the past 46 years, I have taught thousands of students who have gone out and influenced the world. I have essentially committed my entire adult life to Eastern, and the Lord has been most gracious by allowing me to produce many beneficial scientific outcomes, both in research and education, all the while loving and enjoying my work and my students. I started in 1976 as the youngest faculty member and have been the senior faculty member for the past several years. I pray that my love for Jesus and love for my students will inspire others to strive for the Kingdom, to make this world a better place to live and to give glory to God.


THOMAS ’15, PhD program position service

BS Biology with Secondary Ed Cert Assistant Professor of Biology Almost a year at Eastern

Eastern has been a safe haven for me to practice my faith and study God’s creation through science. As a double minority with a PhD from a highly-ranked University and an unchanging faith, I show my students that anything is possible with Jesus. I make the extra effort to be a good role model for my students emphasizing grace, mercy, integrity, long-suffering, kindness, joy, laughter, and hard work. I would love to see EU on fire for God, and science used as a major tool in that pursuit.


AUGUSTA ALLEN, MBA ’88 program position service

MBA in Economic Development Director of International Student and Scholar Services 10 years at Eastern

Eastern has provided an opportunity for me to enlarge my global perspective. I have had such wonderful interactions with students from so many cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The friendships and relationships built from these interactions are so valuable beyond what words can describe. My passion is global education, and I hope that my work here will open the door to welcome more and more international students to be a part of the community that reflects diversity, inclusion, and equity.


position service

BS Pre-Nursing (2+2 program with Thomas Jefferson '83) MS in Health Services Management Nursing Resource and Simulation Lab Instructor A little over a year

Eastern has given me a new perspective on nursing and the nursing profession as Nursing Simulation Lab Coordinator. Previously a pediatric nurse for 36 years, I have loved sharing my experiences and knowledge with our nursing students and helping them find their passion, and pursuing it. I love the beauty of this campus, the vibrant academic community, interacting with many other departments and being able to talk about God and pray freely –it is a wonderful privilege!


Alumni Class Notes

Eastern and Palmer Alumni Class Notes

1960 S

Charles Blum ’66 hosts a monthly meeting of the Great Decisions Group at Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations and also serves on the Leadership Council of OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) of Verde Valley. He teaches courses at OLLI on foreign policy and economics.

Donald Moore, MAR ’69 is thanking God that he is still able to preach His Holy Word every Sunday. Donald will be 80 in November (2022).

1970 S

Marcia Patton, MAR ’73, MDiv ’84 published Sacred Decisions: Consensus in Faith Communities with Judson Press. It is a practical book about what consensus is, what it is not, and how to use it. It was written with co-author Nora Percival, a member of the Quaker tradition.

Mary Cantell ’78 published her fourth inspirational fiction novel: Hope Another Way, which was released on June 7, 2022.

1980 S

Dave Daniels ’86 enjoyed a career in Recreation. He now works as Event Staff for the Liberty First Credit Union Arena and is also in Sales. In his spare time, he composes and performs Americana music in Omaha, NE, and has released four albums/CDs under the stage name of Dangerous Dave Daniels.

Randy Woodley, MDiv ’89 is a farmer, activist, scholar, and wisdom keeper who, along with his wife, Edith, created and currently sustains Eloheh Indigenous Center for Earth Justice and Eloheh Farm & Seeds. Randy currently serves as Distinguished Professor of Faith and Culture at Portland Seminary, co-hosts the podcast Peacing It All Together, and has multiple new publications this year including Becoming Rooted: One Hundred Days of Reconnecting with Sacred Earth and Indigenous Theology and the Western Worldview: A Decolonized Approach to Christian Doctrine.

1990 S

Colleen McGlashen ’97, MA ’01 has been living with her family in California since 2011 and has been working at Pepperdine Graziadio Business school for almost four years.

2000 S

Luminitza Nichols, ECSM ’06, MDiv ’15 is on sabbatical completing her Doctor of Ministry degree at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, after four years in pastoral ministry. Luminitza has finished her debut book: From Pain to Purpose: A Young Woman's Journey From a Communist Prison to an American Pulpit. She is looking forward to God’s next assignment.

Sara Bishop ’07 lives in West Philadelphia with her husband, Dave, and their two daughters, Rosie and Lucy. They love their amazing community! Sara works at various schools in Philadelphia as a teacher and leader coach, as well as an educational consultant for school scheduling.


Michelle Johnson ’07, MDiv ’16 is so appreciative of life, not sweating the small stuff, and excited about her future!

Mary Dotson, MDiv ’07 was appointed to Green Valley UMC in 2020 and loves serving in the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Molly Long ’07 and her husband, Bryan Long ’07, have been church planting, teaching, and training since graduating Eastern and marrying in 2007. They are currently in Buffalo where Bryan serves as Teaching Pastor at a local church and is the Director of Church Multiplication for the Congregational Conservative Christian Conference.

Rebekah Henson ’08 is adopted and has been heavily involved in advocacy and awarenessraising for the adoptee rights movement. This year, Rebekah organized with 3 other adopted persons in Vermont to successfully pass an adoptee equal rights bill through both chambers of the state legislature. She is so proud to take her place in civil rights history as an Eastern University alumna.

Lauren Whitfield ’08 was recently ordained an itinerant deacon (Rev.) in the AME church in May, 2022.

Elizabeth Sagoe ’08 has been involved in private consultancy work on development issues. Elizabeth’s work has been around training young leaders on development and leadership issues, editing research works, capacity building, and strategy development. Inspiring the young ones and children has been Elizabeth’s ultimate focus both in and out of church.

Lauren Walker ’08 has taught within the elementary school setting for the past 14 years and was named Pocomoke Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year in 2021 and was a finalist in the Worcester County Teacher of the Year program. Lauren and her husband became foster parents in 2020 and were named Worcester



Norman Gottwald, BATHM ’49 / March 11, 2022


Joseph Tatta ’55 / May 7, 2022

Clyde Petrie, MDiv ’57 / January 11, 2022

Beverly Carlson ’58 / June 13, 2022


Richard Holmen, MDiv ’60 / May 21, 2022

Alexander Dunlap, MDiv ’61 / December 31, 2016

Charles Jackson ’62 / July 9, 2022

Lois Swenson ’64 / July 21, 2022

Charles Yrigoyen, Jr., THM ’64 / May 9, 2022

Theodore R. Ochs, THM ’65 / April 27, 2022

David Whiteman ’68 / April 6, 2022


Robert Kunz, MDiv ’71 / April 21, 2022

Robert Walker, MDiv ’71 / February 8, 2022

Susan Owen ’72 / June 7, 2020

John Martin, THM ’72 / February 21, 2022

Gary Winget, MDiv ’72 / December 24, 2021

Erwin Rempel, THM ’73 / June 25, 2021

John Wertz, MDiv ’74 / June 1, 2018


Ezekiel Bey, MDiv ’81 / July 26, 2021

George Hawthorne, MDiv ’81, DMin ’91 / May 3, 2022

Monica Carr ’84 / April 7, 2020

Omer King, MDiv ’84 / February 21, 2022

Paul Green, DMin ’85 / January 2, 2022

William LeConey, DMin ’86 / June 23, 2022

James Johnson, DMin ’87 / July 23, 2021


David Knipel, MDiv ’96 / July 18, 2022

Donald Taskey, MBA ’97 / February 24, 2022

Marilyn Sainsbury, MDiv ’99 / July 5, 2022

2000 s

Cora Ross ’03 / February 11, 2022

Gregory Davis ’04 / June 10, 2022

Carlotta Madison, MDiv ’06 / July 4, 2022

Robert Bousquet, MS ’08 / March 28, 2022

Brenda Grager ’08 / June 27, 2022

2010 s

Shanet Foust, MA ’19 / May 18, 2022


Dr. Roy Kim / February 2, 2022

Dr. Ronald Sider / July 27, 2022

Dr. J. Deotis Roberts / July 22, 2022


County’s Foster Parents of the Year for 2022! They love bringing children into their home and making them a part of their family until reunification with their birth families.

Theo Davis ’08 was in full-time youth ministry for 13 years. Theo and his wife Malia Davis-Moreno have lived on site at a homeless shelter/transitional living facility for 17-24 year-olds for the past four years as mentors. Theo and Malia have 3 kids named after their favorite video game characters: Zelda (10 years), Shepherd (6 years), and Cloud (5 weeks).

Lutheran Services Carolinas (LSC) is happy to announce that Heidi Rixman, MS ’08 has been named its chief development officer. She has 25 years of experience in education and human services fundraising, including six years at LSC as director of development.

Crystal Bradford ’09 is currently working at Barber Institute as a program specialist supervisor. Crystal also started her own commercial cleaning company.

Since Fordson Kafweku, MA ’09 graduated, his career has been a roller coaster. Fordson has had several job upgrades and interesting assignments including working outside his country of origin.


Rebecca Hessenauer ’10 and Robert Hessenauer ’13, MA ’18 welcomed a son, Theodore, in May 2021.

Kirk T. Houston Jr., MDiv ’10 celebrates his appointment as Senior Pastor at Antioch Baptist Church, Hampton, VA.

Since graduating from Eastern, Irisol Rodiguez ’10, ’12, MEd ’16 has been teaching. Irisol truly loves working in the same community she grew up in and says that it definitely feels good to give back.

Laura Cook ’11 is the Director of Resettlement and Senior Contract Manager for Consolidated Refugee Services at Lutheran Social Services in Jacksonville, FL. She was awarded the distinguished business leader award: 40 under 40 given to the most influential young leader who has shaped their community. Currently, she is working with Afghan refugees placing them in homes and providing services for them.

Hiromi Gerety, MA ’11 is working as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at Emmaus Counseling Center in Redmond, WA.

Michael Montgomery ’14, MDiv ’21 has been working in Youth Ministry for over 15 years now. Eastern University has equipped Michael to be effective at reaching youth with the Gospel!

Piere Kolowe’s ’12 life is great. He is working hard to make the world a better place to live for everyone.

Austin Martin ’12 worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture for several years

as an apiary inspector and later went on to receive his Master’s of Science focusing on conservation ecology. Currently, Austin is instructing undergraduates at Temple University and developing his dissertation.

Brian and Emily Trautner ’13 bought their first home and moved companies in 2021.

Kelsey Kratz ’14 and Evan Kratz ’14, MA ’16 recently welcomed their second child, Braylee Anne Kratz on March 22, 2022. They also have a 2.5 year-old son, Emmett.

Leta (Williams) Resolve ’14 is continuing to pursue youth ministries in the Northeast who would not otherwise have a strong youth discipleship opportunity!

Ally (Holmes) Rosario ’14, MEd ’21 and Clint Rosario ’14 welcomed their son, Sol Alexander Rosario, to the world earlier this spring. Sol, Spanish for “sun,” is a reminder of God’s new mercies that come every morning!


Daniel Ryumugabe, MA ’14 started a nonprofit that supports over 50 vulnerable kids and their families. Daniel has also been using the knowledge gained during his study at EU to serve in different ministries including his current employer: The Chalmers Center.

Brianne Dvorak ’15 and James Dvorak ’14 met in 2011, married in 2018, and have an 18-monthold. Brianne received her MSN in 2019, and has been working as a pediatric/NICU RN and nurse educator in various roles. James graduated law school in 2018 and has been working as an attorney in various government positions.

Corbin Payne ’15 and Mecan Payne ’15 have been happily married for 7 years, with two little boys and two crazy dogs. Mecan has been using her youth ministry degree at the local church and executive levels and is currently pursuing her MBA in Organizational Leadership. They are very thankful for the faith development, meaningful friendships, and life lessons that they gained during their time at Eastern.

Lidetu Kefenie, PhD ’15 teaches graduate-level leadership courses at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology and offers training to leaders and managers at different institutions (for-profit, not-for-profit, ecclesiastical, and public institutions). Recently, Lidetu was appointed to be the Academic Dean of his home institution. The contribution of Eastern’s PhD Program is incalculable as it prepared him very well for the different roles he plays.

Jamila Jefferson, MDiv ’15 praises the Lord for the continued opportunity to serve in her calling as a school nurse— God continues to be faithful! Jamila and her husband, Solomon Jefferson, MDiv ’20, serve as co-hosts of their podcast It’s Not How You Start But How You Finish. They thank the Lord for the lessons learned through this podcast ministry. To God be the glory!

Teaira Williams ’15 is grateful for all of the professors and leaders at Eastern University that helped her grow in her faith and walk with God. Teaira has been able to work toward bringing educational justice and increasing

financial literacy in underrepresented communities as a Registered Financial Planner and is launching a community center offering educational courses and financial literacy resources to those who need it most.

Monet Amos, MDiv ’16 celebrates her ordination in May 2022. She serves as Pinn Memorial Baptist Church, Philadelphia.

Tysheira Maddox ’16 self-published her book: For The Unguided Twenty Something YearOld: Advice, Lessons Learned, and Inspiration. After earning her BA in Psychology at Eastern, Tysheira went on to receive her Master of Social Work degree at Temple University. Tysheira also became a certified personal development coach for Black women in their 20’s.

Aisha Spivey ’17 is teaching 1st grade at an amazing independent school in North Philadelphia.

Megan Malloy ’17 is now managing Delaware’s Man & Woman of the Year Campaign for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It feels especially meaningful to Megan to share this


update as she began her fundraising journey in the Eastern University office of Advancement as an Eastern Fund call center employee in 2014.

Jonathan Peri, PhD ’17 is the current President of Manor College and Co-Chairman of the Fine Auto Society of the Union League of Philadelphia. Jonathan is also Trustee of St. Hubert H.S., and currently assisting the humanitarian effort for Ukraine.

David Garlock ’17 has been working to help Elders and LIFERS gain parole eligibility. David has also been blessed with opportunities to travel to universities and share his story, including the opportunity to do a TEDx at Arcadia University in April. David is also enjoying being a daddy to Guy Joshua who is 16 months old.

Laura Bitts ’18 just had a daughter, Adaleigh, in October. Laura has been teaching for 4 years and is almost done with her Master’s degree from Millersville University.

Gregory Impink, MDiv ’18 celebrates moving back to the area and being appointed as lead pastor at Wayne Church–A United Methodist Community, July 2022.

Gail Johnson, MDiv ’18 celebrated her ordination in the American Baptist Church in April 2022. Gail serves at Mount Zion Baptist Church Philadelphia as a social worker for the City of Philadelphia and as a hospital and police chaplain.

Caitlyn Rogers ’18 graduated with a Master’s in Public Administration, Nonprofit Management in 2020 where she also met her now husband Brandon. Caitlyn works in Development for the Soulsville Foundation in Memphis, TN writing grants, securing sponsorships and donors, fundraising, etc.

Genikwa Williams, MDiv ’18 celebrated her ordination in the American Baptist Church, June 2022. She was previously ordained in

the Christian Federation of Ministries, July 2020. Genikwa serves as an Associate Minister at Parkway Baptist Church in Willingboro, NJ and as the Manager of the Pastoral Care Department at Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton, NJ.

Hannah Stoner ’19 completed her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology in August and is currently working as a therapist and receiving supervision to earn her license in professional counseling!

Donna Griffin ’19 reminds everyone that it’s never too late to pursue your goals.

Darius Washington ’19 just got promoted internally to the Trading Services Team. Darius is studying for his licenses and trying to level up his life!

Valerie Ortega ’19, ’21 is going back for her MSW in August 2022.

Neeka (Skelton) Guenther ’19 is a company member with Dancefusion in Philadelphia. Both Neeka and her husband Josh Guenther ’20 love being involved in their Philly church plant, Redemption City Church.

Marco Eitzen ’19 moved back to Paraguay and is currently working at an NGO focused on church based development.


Kristine Ouwenga, MTS ’20 started a blog at beautifully-unbroken.com and is currently writing a novel.

Rachel Morton ’20 graduated with her MSEd in Sport Management from Baylor University in May and started her full-time job in March.

Jennifer Hill, MEd ’20 is currently pursuing her EdD in Social Emotional Learning. Eastern was an amazing foundation for her before beginning a doctorate journey!

Heather Deaver, MA ’20 works full time as a school-based mental health therapist in Cecil County Public Schools. She is the Clinical Internship Coordinator for Upper Bay Counseling & Support Services as well and works part-time providing remote teletherapy for Clients at Aspire Wellness Center.

Eric Burrows-Stone, MDiv ’21 celebrated his ordination in the Reformed Church in America in July 2022. Eric serves in youth ministry at Resurrection, Philadelphia.

De’andre Rainey ’21 is currently enrolled at Eastern once again working on her Special Ed and regular Ed certification.

Marquissa Williams, MTS ’21 celebrated her ordination in June 2022 and currently serves as the Executive Pastor of Capacity Church, Philadelphia. Marquissa has also recently published D.N.A in the Church Community.

CORRECTION: A story published in our spring 2022 EASTERN magazine, “A Path Paved With Provision,” incorrectly stated that Eastern’s music program was started in 1990. While the program was relaunched in 1990, we regret that this statement failed to acknowledge the rich legacy of Eastern’s music program that began decades earlier, but was closed in the 70s. We are grateful for all of our Eastern music alumni!


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