Young. Bright. Called.
At Worthington Christian Schools, we believe that our students have been called to pursue truth and then take that knowledge and fill the earth with it. These alumni represent a wide range of vocational callings, each of them building God’s kingdom in their own unique way. With this in mind, we turn the spotlight on the educational and vocational accomplishments of 30 of our younger alumni. Our hope is that these stories will inspire our current students to dream bigger dreams and show prospective students where a WCS education can lead them.
“And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.” Ephesians 1:22-23 (NIV)
Shaking Up Views on Disability During his time as an undergraduate student in mechanical engineering at The Ohio State University, (B.S. Mechanical Engineering in 2007), this yearâ€™s WCS Alumnus of the Year Elliott worked full-time as a mechanic/engineer for an international autoracing team. He traveled throughout North America and Western Europe with a job that he thought would be the pinnacle of high-performance engineering. However, he began to feel compelled to pursue a career that had a greater impact on humanity. He left autoracing and began to study the biomedical aspects of engineering at Northwestern University. He earned his M.S. and Ph.D degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University in 2009 and 2012, respectively. Two reasons compelled Elliott to pursue the research and development of bionic technology. First, he seeks to impact peopleâ€™s lives through the application of novel, wearable robotic technologies. Such research and development has the opportunity to increase the quality of life of the disabled, as well as push the limits of non-disabled human performance. Second, he is drawn to his current field because of the many interesting technical challenges needing addresses. Currently, Elliott is employed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Postdoctoral Fellow where he is responsible for leading research and development of technology that advances human function. His primary research interests include wearable robotics, biomedical system dynamics and identification, human motor control and medical device design. Elliott is passionate about understanding how the nervous system regulates joint dynamic mechanical properties during movement. His goal is to use this understanding to forward the design of advanced technologies to assist and augment human function. Additionally, he seeks to understand the biophysical processes that underlie such technology. The most rewarding aspect of his career is testing research technologies that he has developed with patients. Their excitement and input is one of the highlights of his days and years as a scientist. For example, he has been working with one of the Boston Marathon bombing victims. Each time he tests with this individual, he is moved and inspired by their passion and resilience. Very recently, he and his team demonstrated a bionic dancing technology at the TED Conference in Vancouver, BC, built for this same Boston Marathon bombing survivor. Over the years, Elliottâ€™s research has been featured on the Discovery Channel, CNN, National Public Radio, Wired Magazine UK and Business Insider. Elliott has been happily married to WCS alumna Rachel (Van Fleet) Rouse (2002) for over six years. She has been a major source of encouragement and support during their time in Chicago and Boston.
Dr. Elliott Rouse 2002
Professionals Serving in the Mission Field Sitting in a church service in Birmingham, Alabama, Bethany heard a presentation for 100 Fold Studio — a non-profit architecture firm. The big picture of this organization was to pioneer a new way for professionals to serve in missions. Despite the fact she wasn’t an architect, she knew she HAD to work for this company. Bethany loves history, traveling, languages, ethnic food, and fighting for a good cause. Pursuing International Relations and Portuguese from Samford University was the only degree that seemed to combine all of these favorite things. As a result, however, of the 100 Fold Studio presentation, she instead went into ministry after having worked for three non-profit organizations. She realized she wanted to be part of this new movement of God, and she was willing to give up her paychecks to do it. It was one of the few times in her life that she was willing to risk financial security to obey what God was calling her to do, and even on the hardest days, it has been worth it. Currently, in her role as a teacher for Youth With a Mission (YWAM), her job is to introduce her students to the God of the Bible and of today. Their lives are changed when they hear God’s voice for the first time, telling them that He loves them and made them for a purpose. Her students experience real intimacy with their Creator, and there is no better experience than being part of that. Bethany believes that God allows everyone to have influence; the choice is in deciding whether or not to use it for good.
Bethany (Gibson) Fowler 2005
Where does Bethany see herself in the next five to ten years? She wants to continue helping people use their gifts and talents to make Jesus really known to all. She also hopes to have her own family.
Crunching Numbers Caleb headed to Taylor University to pursue his finance degree, knowing that he wanted to have a vocation in the business field. Although he was not sure exactly what that future job would look like, he knew finance would give him the most options. He was led to pursue a career as a financial advisor after spending most college summers interning with a firm that specialized in investment management. This experience gave him the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the area on the intricacies of the investment world, and made him want to learn more. Caleb also knew he wanted to enter a field that allowed him to “crunch numbers.” And finance is where we currently find Caleb — working as a Financial Advisor for Central Ohio Financial Management Group. His primary focus is to assist clients with the most efficient use of their resources to achieve goals such as retirement or saving for their children’s college. During his tenure at Ameriprise Financial, he was successful in influencing others by creating plans for all new and existing clients. He was able to show clients multiple retirement scenarios versus one static view.
Caleb Stertzer 2006
Ann Wheat influenced Caleb’s career path but in a different way than would be expected. His experience through Internship Academy revealed that one occupation he thought would be a good fit was actually not suited for him. Caleb knows that WCS provided both solid academics and teachers who would go the extra mile for their students. WCS provided an atmosphere that encouraged incorporating Christ into every aspect of life. He believes his K–12 education solidified many biblical principles into his own faith. Caleb is happily married to WCS alumna Rachel (Wigton) Stertzer (2007) and sees no change in his chosen career path for the foreseeable future.
Light for the Lord The decision to pursue a B.A. in Crime and Justice Studies came from Brett’s desire to help make the world a better place, not only through his faith, but also through his vocation. Wright State University recruited Brett after graduation from WCS in 2012. Studying hard and playing soccer for the Raiders, Brett is well on his way to earning his degree. The more rewarding aspect of his education to-date has been seeing what he is truly capable of when it comes to school work. As a student athlete, he was named to the All-Horizon League Academic Honor Roll after completing three semesters at Wright State. He received the Newcomer of the Year award for the Horizon League, as well as 1st Team All-Horizon League as a freshman on the Wright State soccer team. Sophomore year saw him receiving the nod for 2nd Team All Horizon League. Brett considers it a privilege to be part of the WCS family due to the investment made by faculty and staff in the lives of students. He credits WCS with helping him mature the last two years in high school, and moving him in the right direction to be the person God wants him to be. Tom Anglea, former high school principal, had a tremendous influence on him by virtue of the life he lived while on this earth. “He taught me that being a light for the Lord can have a great impact on the world, and that following the Lord is worth every second.” What does the future hold for Brett? His dream is to play professional soccer, but if that doesn’t pan out, his fallback plan involves the FBI, and most definitely marriage and a family.
Brett Elder 2012
Impacting Global Health An interest in medicine led Tala (Alhajj) Schwindt to Taylor University, where she earned a B.A. in Biology. Her career soon moved past clinical medicine to epidemiology when she decided to pursue higher education in Public Health. She attended the University of Michigan, earning her MPH in Epidemiology and International Health in 2010. Tala realized that her interest was focused on health at a global level, and that she could have a greater impact than seeing patients in a one-to-one setting. Upon earning her MPH, she worked as a research assistant for the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Michigan where she coordinated a population-based study to understand the racial disparity of multiple myeloma in Detroit. Additionally, she analyzed racial differences in prostate cancer outcomes in men and endometrial cancer in women.
Tala (Alhajj) Schwindt 2004
Currently, Tala is employed by Sinai Urban Health Institute as an Epidemiologist and Program Evaluator for the asthma interventions that Sinai implements on Chicago’s Westside. She is also involved in mentoring MPH and med-students who are interested in epidemiology and public health interventions. When asked to reflect on how WCS prepared her for her future, she noted that it was important to develop strong work ethic in high school and many of her teachers at WCS had high expectations that pushed her to excel.
The Gospel and Grace in Rome Tiffany has always enjoyed reading, but what she loves about English literature is the combination of the creative and the analytical. She chose to pursue her B.A. in English Literature from Miami University to set herself on a path to law school, while still studying something she enjoyed. After a missions trips to Rome as a college student, Tiffany fell in love with the place, and saw a need for spiritual resources among university students. Even with the Vatican in the backyard, less than one percent of students know someone who could truly point them to a relationship with God. Two years before graduation, she felt God calling her to return, long term. That call stuck around and she followed. Employed by Cru/Agape Italia, Tiffany is a Short Term International (STINT). The vision and her responsibilities are to share the Gospel with students, to build up Christian students through discipleship (mentoring and training), and ultimately to equip and send students to reach their own campus and later the workforce. Beyond academics and careers, there is one part of her time at WCS that prepared her well for her future, and she speaks about this often to students. While she doesnâ€™t recall which teacher assigned The Ragamuffin Gospel for class, what she does know is that God used it to teach her about His grace and how the Gospel is not just for the beginning of our relationship with Him, but for every minute of it. It was a turning point and has led her to experience her relationship with God more fully. What does the future hold for Tiffany? For now, she is deferring her law school enrollment at the University of Chicago. Higher education in some form will never be off the table for her, and she is contemplating committing to another three to five years working for Cru in Rome. Ultimately, looking farther down the road, no matter what career she land in, she hopes for chances to write, and maybe even publish.
Tiffany Helmuth 2008
Investing in Studentsâ€™ Lives After earning a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from LeTourneau University in Texas and looking toward becoming a practicing engineer, David spent a year teaching at the high school level. It was while teaching that he realized he could use his engineering degree not only to conduct research and develop products, but also to continue teaching young people. David went on to earn an M.S. and Ph.D in Civil Engineering from West Virginia University. Currently, David is a professor at a LeTourneau. He has the opportunity not just to teach engineering principles to students, but also to teach them how to integrate their faith with their future careers. Mark Pifer and many other teachers and staff at WCS taught him the value of making a personal investment in students, which has influenced his own path in returning to the classroom.
Dr. David Dittenber 2003
David has been able to contribute to some interesting research projects related to the use of advanced materials in large scale structural applications in the past few years, and he has had many opportunities to discuss his research work in journals and at professional conferences. He has also been able to do some work internationally, designing and fitting functional prostheses for above-knee amputees in Kenya while getting his undergraduate degree. During studies for his Ph.D, David was additionally afforded several opportunities to present and teach at numerous workshops in India. David has been happily married to Rachel since 2012. As far as his future plans go, he would love to still be at LeTourneau University, teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and overseeing research projects where students will have opportunities like he has had to see their hard work result in changed lives for others.
From WCS to West Point Michael knew he wanted to serve his country and he believed that the Army was the best way for him to do that. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, having earned a degree in International Relations and being commissioned as an Officer in the U.S. Army upon graduation. His accomplishments also include graduation from U.S. Army Ranger School and Airborne School. He has been deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and has served as a Platoon Leader and Executive Office. Currently, his role is Assistant Operations Officer. During his years at WCS, Michael was challenged by Mark Pifer to be better and to never give up. He knows that the study habits he learned in calculus are what helped him succeed at West Point. Overall, WCS did a very good job preparing him academically for West Point. Some of his fondest WCS memories include attending every single basketball game his senior year with his closest friends; as he succinctly put it, “It’s all about the relationships you make along the way.” One of the most rewarding aspects of his career has been effectively leading his soldiers in training and combat operations. He believes the most effective leaders are those that can relate through shared experiences. It was important to earn his men’s respect and lead by example so that when he asked the world of them, they knew he would be right there beside them. Having traveled to 13 different countries, Michael and wife Lisa are now busy making a home in Savannah, Georgia. Future plans include either continuing his military career or starting his own business with several friends.
Michael Beum 2006
Ready for Any Challenge After graduating from WCS, Aubrey thought she wanted to report to the world. Plans changed, however, after earning her B.A. in English/Journalism and graduating magna cum laude from Wittenberg University. Taking a temporary job writing job descriptions, Aubrey found herself thriving and pursuing positions within Total Rewards, the Bob Evans benefit program. For the past four and a half years, she has been working for Bob Evans Farms, first as an intern and now as the Health and Welfare Supervisor. In that role, she is responsible for health benefits, voluntary benefits, wellness programming, and the new Fitness Center. In reflecting on her WCS days, Aubrey remembers that Ann Wheat lit the fire that made her want to be a successful woman in the workplace. As a participant in the first WCS internship class, she learned quite a few real life lessons during her multiple internships.
Aubrey (Herbst) Stone 2005
While in college, Aubrey had the opportunity to run an after school program for middle school girls focusing on health, self image, and value as God sees us. It was one of the greatest experiences of her college career. She cannot thank her parents enough for allowing her to attend WCS. The Bible knowledge and study skills learned have prepared her for just such opportunities. As for her future plans, she hopes that she will have the blessing of knowing that she is exactly where God wants her to be. She is ready for what the future holds, whether that is further along in her career, on mission in another country, or tackling whatever life challenge God places in front of her.
Influencing the World with ONELIFE After graduating from WCS, Madison headed to Capital University to pursue a B.A. in Biology and graduated in 2014. Though her area of study didn’t change during college, she had to make the choice not to take the MCAT to become a doctor, nor to pursue a strictly research-based Ph.D. Instead, she put all of her eggs in one basket and began building ONELIFE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves as a charity hub — the one place to connect with all things charity. ONELIFE provides access to information about world needs, venues to donate to reliable nonprofits, and service opportunities in which individuals can participate. It was a terrifying choice, but she made it. As the Founder and CEO of ONELIFE, she is just a young boss lady trying to build the world an online charity hub with a grassroots team. Madison recognized that our society had a disconnect with charity. We don’t have anywhere to go to connect with all aspects of charity. We can connect with sports, crafts, fashion, and news with a click — but not with charity. She wanted to fix that. Startup endeavors are challenging for many reasons, one being the issue of income. She is not employed by ONELIFE, but instead works to support the organization and herself. “Thanks, Mom and Dad for letting me live in your basement after I graduated.” In her spare time, she is also a Research Assistant at Phylogeny Inc., exploring the biological mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Madison Mikhail 2010
Madison had many WCS teachers influence her career path. She always tells the story of showing her idea of an online charity hub to Dan Roads. At the time, she was hoping for him to tell her the idea wasn’t great, so she wouldn’t feel compelled to pursue it. Instead, he handed back her sketches with some suggestions and said, “it’s good.” She looks back at that moment as a turning point. Major influences were Tom Anglea, David Muschott, and Tom Burns, who all handed her an unreasonable amount of trust and leadership responsibility with the senior Dominican Republic missions trip. Those times were a glimpse of what she does now. And then there was Dr. Buzz Inboden who told her repeatedly that she could do anything. Madison has already influenced the world. Her team has been able to connect students and adults to charity through service opportunities or donation venues. ONELIFE chapters have raised more than $10,000 for charity in the first three years. Also, Madison was a featured speaker at the October 2013 TEDx Youth Columbus event for her work with ONELIFE. The most rewarding moments of her career are when she hears that people are utilizing ONELIFE as a charity hub. When she reads random tweets or stories of people saying they had found a place to connect with charity, it’s a blessed moment. What does the future hold? Most days our team openly admits “we don’t know what we are doing” as we take on a something that hasn’t been done before. Madison hopes that in the next five to ten years, we will know more of what we are doing, still be innovative, and that ONELIFE will be a well established charity hub.
Examining Ethnic Identity Philip has always been interested in history; it was his favorite subject in school. He headed to Grace College to study general history and then continued at San Jose State University as a Master’s student specializing in Ancient and Medieval History. It was there that Philip volunteered on an archaeological excavation in Israel. Despite all the difficulties and sometimes harsh conditions of working on a dig, after his first dig, he knew that he had to become an archaeologist. Currently, Philip is a doctoral student at Southwestern Baptist Seminary which entails, on top of regular coursework, things such as taking an active role in research projects such as archaeological excavations in Cyprus and Israel, contributing to archaeological publications, and participating in academic conferences across the nation. In addition, he is teaching as Adjunct Faculty at Tarrant County College. Along with earning his B.A. and M.A., his primary educational accomplishment has been the completion of his Master’s Thesis, “Ethnic Continuity and Change at Gezer.” As he reflected on the influence of his WCS education, Philip notes his classes with Tom Burns challenged him to think for himself and critically analyze what he was reading. The English instructors in particular pushed him to read material that challenged and taught him how to write clearly, intelligibly, and with conviction. Additionally, Carole Galbraith’s instruction in ceramics is proving to be of particular value in his current line of work as he analyzes ancient ceramics samples from the Near East.
Philip is happily married to his wife, WCS alumna Leah (Craig) Webb (2006) and in the next five to ten years, he plans to have completed his Ph.D., be teaching at a university, and be actively involved in field work in the Near East.
Philip Webb 2006
Called to Counsel Hannah notes that it was in the halls of WCS that she discovered her niche for counseling. She remembers having a conversation in the seventh grade with a friend who was going through a hard time. While she was deeply saddened for her friend, she walked away from the conversation feeling totally alive, and knowing that she wanted to come alongside hurting people as a career. Attending Cedarville University, she earned a B.A. in Psychology and then moved on to Grace College for her M.A. in Clinical Counseling. She also earned her LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor) in Indiana and then earned her LPCC-S (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, Supervisor designation). She is co-founder of AVAH Ministries, an organization that provides personal growth seminars for women on a variety of Biblical topics with a niche in the areas of intimacy and connection. Additionally, Hannah serves as a community-based therapist at a nonprofit organization called OhioGuidestone where she travels and provides individual and family counseling to low-income families in their homes, schools, foster homes, etc. She also works in a private practice setting called Crossroads Counseling Group.
Hannah (Hermiz) Estabrook 2001
Hannah has been married to alumnus Brian (2001) since June 2009. She is thriving in a wonderful church community (Central Vineyard) where she serves as a peer counselor trainer and women’s ministry leader. In the future, she hopes to be doing a lot of what she is currently doing, and is also looking to further engage the issue of sex trafficking in the Columbus community. She co-authored Beyond Desolate: Hope vs. Hate in the Rubble of Sexual Abuse, published in 2012.
Not Afraid of A New Challenge After graduating from WCS, Claire traveled to Argentina and spent a year teaching English at a Christian Missionary school. Upon returning home to Ohio, she decided to follow her passion of baking and started a business doing what she loved. She launched Claire’s Confections and worked at building the business for the next three years, selling specialty desserts to local shops. She later moved into doing dessert tables for weddings and events. Claire found out just how passionate she is about creating with the Lord — view some of her creations at www.clairespetitedesserts.com. During this time, Claire connected with a Christian sports adventure camp in Northern California and served as summer staff for one season. Not one to be afraid of a new challenge, she followed God’s leading to move to Birmingham, Alabama to be part of the inaugural class of a ministry school called Legacy School of Discipleship. She spent a year studying God’s Word and seeing how Christ is formed in each of us. During that time, she also spent a month traveling around Israel. Claire feels strongly that this period of time influenced how she lives today and the person that she has become. In reflecting upon her time at WCS, Claire knows that her teachers poured into her faith every day just in the way they lived out their lives. She knows that their examples are why she feels confident in who she is in Christ, and how she is able to live out her faith in all she does. While Claire may not know exactly what adventures await her in the future, she is certain to listen to the Lord’s leading and is excited to see what He has in store for her.
Claire Breiding 2005
Chemist for Life Dan knew he wanted to pursue a scientific field, but the WCS chemistry, anatomy and physiology classes he took from Christie Burns really helped those interests grow and develop. They laid a very strong foundation for the advanced coursework that was to come. Beyond the science classes, however, his education at WCS was further strengthened through classes in other areas. History classes with Al Iten, English classes with Peggie Bell, and Bible classes with Tom Burns, among others, all helped him grow as a student and as a Christian. He knows that the broader perspective those experiences proved to be essential in making him who he is today. Choosing to attend Wheaton College, Dan wanted to have both a strong science education as well as a wide angle lens to see how all of that fits into the bigger picture of Christian living and human experience. He started at Wheaton as a pre-med student, but quickly found the chemistry coursework to be much more engaging than most of the other courses he was taking as a part of the pre-med track. It was at that point that he decided to pursue chemistry as a field and now has earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Wheaton and a Ph.D in Chemistry from The University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Dan Dreyer 2003
Currently, Dan is a Senior Chemist at Nalco-Champion in Fresno, Texas where he is working on the synthesis and characterization of various small molecules and polymer materials for application in the oil and gas industry. Prior to making the move to Nalco-Champion, Dan was the Director of Chemical Research at Graphea, Inc. where he developed carbon nanomaterial technology. As far as his future plans, Dan says he is a lab rat. He sees himself continuing to love working at the chemistry bench, making new chemical compounds, discovering new things about how molecules behave, and tackling problems. He hopes to continue that in the years to come.
Compassion Advocacy Courtney always knew she wanted a career where she would be able to help people. She started as a Pre-Med major because she thought her calling was to be a medical missionary. It wasn’t long, though, before she realized she would not be able to handle the blood and messiness of being a doctor, and she changed her major to psychology with the hopes of becoming a social worker. In a turn of events, she accidentally took a pre-law class during her sophomore year, which sparked an interest in a legal career. That led to a final change of major and she graduated from Liberty University in 2012 with a B.S. in Government. It was during her sophomore year in college that she decided to attend law school, and currently she is pursuing a Juris Doctor at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Ultimately, Courtney was motivated to choose law as a vocation as her brother has Down Syndrome, and advocacy has always been an integral part of her nature. After reading Proverbs 31:8-9 for the first time — “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” — it resonated with her and pushed her to think of careers where she would be able to “live out” those verses. This summer she will work as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps JD member to provide homeless and low-income veterans with legal assistance and mobilize community agencies to better serve the homeless veteran population. Previously she interned at The Legal Aid Society of Columbus where she assisted attorneys as they met the legal needs of low-income individuals in Columbus. When she is not working, studying, or spending time with husband David (2008), Courtney coaches volleyball, having herself earned a scholarship to play Division I volleyball at Liberty University. She never planned on coaching until approached about running camps and clinics for area teams. She realized the important role she could play in the lives of teenagers by helping them develop vital characteristics such as discipline and work ethic that she herself learned during her years of playing competitive sports.
Courtney (Boggs) White 2008
Serving and Leading in Medicine Andrew has always loved science, especially the life sciences. Graduating summa cum laude with a B.S. in Biology/Pre-Medicine from Taylor University, Andrew is now headed to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Biology/Pre-Medicine allowed him to pursue his dreams of working in the medical field while discovering more about our complex world. Andrew was influenced to enter this field thanks to teachers Dawn McMahon, Al Iten, Ruth Beschta, and Dr. Buzz Inboden. Many other WCS teachers have deeply impacted his life, both academically and spiritually, leading by example inside and outside of the classroom. WCS provided a solid foundation on which to stand and allowed him to grow academically and spiritually in college.
Andrew Parrish 2010
One of the most rewarding aspects of his education so far has been the opportunity to give back to his fellow Taylor students by teaching an MCAT course and working in the Biology Department. He has enjoyed being able to help students smooth out that transition from high school to college. Also, he has led by being a servant leader for his classmates, seeking to encourage them to excel in scholarship and spirituality. Andrew’s plans for the next five to ten years include being a medical resident in his chosen specialty. It could be anything from surgery to pediatrics — time will tell.
Teaching Globally Katie’s years at WCS led her to pursue an education at Houghton College, a college specifically known for its offerings of study-abroad programs where she earned a B.A. in English Literature and Art in 2010. After graduating, she moved to South Korea to teach English, which afforded her many opportunities to travel extensively throughout Asia. She soon began working in Kigali, Rwanda as coordinator of students for GoED Africa, a study-abroad program for American university students with aims of studying peace and conflict and African culture. Katie credits several teachers with influencing her career and shaping her life. Adam Wyse somehow found a way to present reading a book as a huge adventure. More importantly than influencing her career path, Tom Burns’ teachings affected the way she looks at the world. Al Iten deepened her love of learning and, more importantly, he exemplified what it meant to love thy neighbor. His humility and kindness have influenced her more than any book could. A WCS education is a blessing in that there are so many teachers who genuinely love and care about their students. That is never forgotten. Currently she and her husband, Mitch Edwards, live in Montreal, and Katie teaches English for an international institution. She reports that her ultimate goal while living in Montreal is to learn French to make WCS French teacher Jane Kettering proud.
So how will Katie spend the next five to ten years? She hopes that she will have given back an ounce of what she has received from people much wiser and kinder than herself. While she doesn’t know how this goal will manifest iself, she is not opposed to more travel.
Katherine Thompson 2006
Helping Others Reach Their Potential Attending The Ohio State University to pursue a B.S. in Exercise Science was NOT part of Andrew Rickly’s original plan. Mechanical engineering was his first choice, but during his first semester and while training to qualify as a member of the U.S. Men’s Gymnastics Team at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, he realized that engineering was not his passion. Part of his training regime called for participation in a sports program that evaluated the body structure, symmetrical muscle development, range of motion, and functionality of every athlete. He was intrigued by the scientific approach to assessing athletic abilities to maximize their performance. God showed him through this camp that there were career paths better suited for him. Today Andrew influences his teammates by giving his best to honor God. His teammates know he is a Christian, and he has had the opportunity to specifically share his faith with several of them much like his instructors at WCS shared theirs with him. Throughout high school, each of Andrew’s teachers encouraged and supported his gymnastics endeavors. Dawn McMahon had an indirect impact on Andrew’s decision to pursue exercise science in college, as what he learned in her anatomy and physiology class related to what he was doing in the gym for 30 hours a week.
Andrew Rickly 2013
Andrew cannot imagine high school without teachers and friends. With their unique personalities, each impacted his life daily by pointing him to Christ. The senior trip to the Dominican Republic is one of Andrew’s best WCS memories. It was a time to see God working not only in people in another part of the world, but also in the lives of his fellow classmates. His hopes beyond college include a job where he can use his gymnastics and educational background to help assess athletes’ abilities in order to assist them in maximizing performance — literally helping others reach their God-given potential.
Connecting Lives through Christ Mathematics, says Tim, is a foundation discipline and can open many doors. It also requires and develops critical/analytical thinking. Following graduation from WCS, Tim attended Columbus State Community College for the first two years, graduating with an A.S. degree. He then transferred to The Ohio State University where he graduated in 2011 with a B.S. in Mathematics. Tim was influenced by teacher Mark Pifer because he is a hard-worker, critical thinker, and had high expectations. Overall, Tim feels that WCS prepared him well for his future due to having quality teachers. He is absolutely grateful for the teachers and staff at WCS because of their commitment to investing in young people. He felt pushed academically and the bar was set high at WCS, but at the same time he felt loved and encouraged. Tim is so thankful for his roots at WCS. One of his favorite memories is having taken sophomore Bible class with Tom Burns because it opened up a whole new world of thinking biblically and deeply. Currently, Tim is employed by Linworth Road Church as the College Director. He leads weekly meetings, teaches Bible, mentors college students, and leads evangelistic outreaches. His career has allowed him to work with people and make a lasting impact in significant ways. He has been able to influence others by helping people connect with God, helping them think about the Bible, their major, their life, and their friendship in a way that is exciting and engaging. With wife Helen by his side, Tim’s future plans include continuing in ministry — he loves his current calling. Whether it’s teaching at a school, serving as a pastor, or following God’s lead elsewhere, Tim’s desire is to continue to influence people.
Tim Short 2006
Strategizing for Life Matt had the opportunity to be part of the inaugural class of WCS Internship Academy under the direction of Ann Wheat. He interned with two financial planners and one commodities brokerage firm, and ended up working for the brokerage firm for the next three summers following high school. He had always enjoyed business — figuring out how to use money well and coming up with plans to meet people’s needs were always fun, so business school seemed like a natural fit. Looking back, Matt appreciates the rigor that Mark Pifer pushed his class through, because it helped him develop a better work ethic and tenacity in learning. Matt went on to graduate magna cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis with a BSBA in Finance and Accounting.
Matthew Nordman 2005
Matt feels WCS gave him all the opportunities he needed to be where he is today — education, access to a professional network in a Christ-focused environment. He still has close WCS friends almost ten years after graduating. When he looks back on his formative years, which aren’t that far in the rear-view mirror, he is thankful for the truth of Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Currently, Matt works for General Mills as a Financial Analyst. He is a Supply Chain Decision Support Analyst for the Meals division. In non-corporate-speak, that means that any time the Meals division (Progresso, Old El Paso, Helpers) wants to make a decision that impacts supply chain, he provides the financial impact of that decision. His future plans are to obtain an MBA within the next few years, with a focus on management and strategy. He continues to enjoy corporate finance, and would like to grow in leading the financial operations within a company.
Loving God, Loving People Megan holds strong to the belief that second only to the pursuit of loving God is that of loving people. Initially, Megan hoped to pursue education with the notion of using it as a platform to provide mentorship, instilling the desire for sound discipline and character through academic pursuits. After her first year, she decided that her passion for people would be best utilized through a more specific focus on counseling. After graduating with a B.A. in English from Indiana Wesleyan University, she earned her M.A. in Social Work from The Ohio State University. She currently practices social work in both hospital and private practice settings at OSU Wexner Medical Center James Cancer Hospital and Crossroads Counseling Group. She achieved the highest level of licensure for her field at a very young age. In her daily work, Megan has seen the healing power of Christ actively changing lives, and she has been privileged to see the movement of Christ in the hospital setting. One co-worker recently made a commitment to Christ, and is already seeking how to extend God’s grace not only to patients but also to co-workers. God is bringing light into the office setting. When asked about her education at WCS, Megan shared that “WCS allowed me to be free from the distractions that commonly entangle adolescents. I felt complete freedom to devote the necessary balance of time to studies, friends, family, and God in a way that was sufficiently stimulating but not inundating.” She also shared that Al Iten exemplified humble passion for the Lord and His people through gracious leading and listening consistently across time and settings. Outside of her career, Megan has participated in a church plant in the Short North area with another 2004 graduate, Christine (Short) Kimball and friends from Linworth Road Church. Her future plans include participating in another church plant, and working with her husband and fellow laborers in the Gospel to spread the Kingdom of God, wherever He may lead.
Megan (Sweeney) Thrush 2004
At Peace As God’s Hand Guides Upon high school graduation, Ryne attended Moody Bible Institute to become a pastor. He earned a B.A. in Theology, with highest academic honors, to prepare him for graduate study in theology, history, or perhaps philosophy. Ultimately, he ended up sensing that law school was the best fit based on his education, skills, and interests. He earned his Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Notre Dame in May 2014.
Ryne Leake 2006
Although Ryne is now going down a different path, he still sees ministry — perhaps even full time ministry — as a potential in the future. Tom Burns had a strong role in influencing his interest in ministry. Overall, WCS helped Ryne gain a passion for learning, but it also helped him gain a more clear perspective of his faith in God, and allowed Ryne to be at peace as God’s hand guides his life. Both of these reasons have helped him overcome long nights of studying, heavy workloads, and the balancing of school and personal lives. What does the future look like for Ryne? Initially he wanted to work with an international human rights firm in D.C. While that is still an interest, he is now looking long-term at Judge Advocate positions, district attorney’s offices, and other criminal law related agencies. He has a goal of being accepted as a JAG, gaining experience and training needed to work in other government agencies involving criminal law. As for Ryne’s response about his favorite WCS memory… “I plead the fifth.”
Economic Forecast: Challenging After starting out as a biology pre-med student at Taylor University, Mekael realized that although he enjoyed and appreciated science, he didn’t enjoy working in a lab or hospital. He found himself rushing through work for his major so that he could have more time to read about politics, economics, and history. He then took world politics and development economics classes to fulfill general education requirements, and realized he had just stepped into his new major — a double major in political science and international studies, and went on to earn his M.A. in Economics from Vanderbilt University. Currently, Mekael is an Assistant Vice President and Economist at the PNC Financial Services Group where his primary responsibility is to research, analyze, and forecast economic trends. The job requires a lot of writing, public speaking, and interaction with media outlets. He filled a similar role in his previous position with Moody’s Analytics, but his current job focuses on U.S. economy whereas his previous work focused more on international economies, mostly in Europe and Africa. Mekael enjoys the rewards of his chosen career because economic forecasting is both an art and a science. It requires statistical analysis, knowledge of current events and geopolitics, as well as judgement and intuition. Also, politics and the economy never stop. The job remains challenging and interesting.
Mekael Teshome 2002
Outside of his vocation, he is working with a group of agricultural scientists to start a non-profit university in Ethiopia called Bethel Environmental and Agricultural University and Training Center (BEAUTC). The school focuses on agriculture and environment with the aim of boosting farmers’ production and contributing to food security in Ethiopia. Mekael’s future plans include obtaining a doctorate in economics and advancing in his profession. He also hopes to develop BEAUTC into a world-class institution that makes meaningful and significant progress in addressing global hunger and environmental stewardship.
Molding Hearts and Minds Studying English is a subject about which Laura has always been passionate, reading and writing being one of her favorite pasttimes. She decided to pursue teaching after working as a summer camp counselor during college, loving the experience of molding young lives. After graduating from The Ohio State University with her B.A. in English and M.Ed in English Education, she worked with Campus Crusade for Christ in Eastern Europe for a year, further adding to her experience of influencing others. For the past three years, she has taught ninth grade English in the CharlotteMecklenburg Schools System. She loves working with public school teenagers and building relationships with them, and considers it to be very humbling, exciting, and challenging to know that she might be the only person who could show Jesus to them or truly care about them.
Laura Swetnam 2005
Laura credits her WCS teachers for showing her the power of a caring teacher. She also gives credit to WCS for her solid biblical foundation, an excellent education, and the support of many caring individuals as she headed out into college, missions, and the workforce. In today’s educational climate, Laura’s integrity, work ethic, and compassion for the hearts and well as the minds of her students is a precious commodity.
Life on a Molecular Level Does surviving seven years of post-high school education count as an accomplishment? So far, Nettie has earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Notre Dame and a M.A. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University. If that isn’t enough, she earned full ride scholarships, including expenses and stipends for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Nettie planned to attend medical school and in order to fulfill the requirements for that, she began taking biology courses in her freshmen year and absolutely fell in love. At that point, she switched from Preprofessional Science to Biological Sciences because of the draw to microbiology and genetics. Overall, she was drawn to better understand the world. She has a desire to learn more, to understand how life works on a molecular level. When thinking back on her WCS days, Nettie remembers that Deb Walton was the first teacher to really introduce her to the heart of biology and showed her just how exciting it can be. To this day, she is still fascinated by and loves the study of genetics, and that all started in Deb’s classroom. WCS helped prepare her as she was engaged and inspired, and 100 percent of her motivation to pursue the sciences began while at WCS. Her education provided baseline knowledge, and she also learned good study habits that have continued over the years. What does the future hold? Nettie is applying for jobs and will primarily be considering research assistant or scientist (in microbiology) opportunities. No doubt, there is much to come from her as she enters the workforce.
Nettie Pyne 2007
Pondering Difficult Questions Nathanael considers Dr. Buzz Inboden to have been a big influence on him due to his rare mixture of intellectual competence, spiritual maturity, and lightness of heart. Additionally, Al Iten taught a reading course with a formidable list of books. Reading through those texts introduced Nathanael to aspects of the world and to ideas which radically expanded his horizons. He went to Grace College, intending to become a pastor. It was soon after starting his undergraduate degree that he “caught the philosophy bug.”
Nathanael Smith 2003
Nathanael has earned two master’s degrees: MPhil in Philosophical Theology from the University of Oxford, and an M.A. in Philosophy from Western Michigan University. He is currently working on a doctoral degree at the University of Rochester and is the recipient of a Slattery Fellowship. He has also had the opportunity to present research at a few academic conferences. In addition to his coursework, he also teaches philosophy to undergraduate students. Two aspects of his education and career have been especially rewarding: his education has given him the opportunity to spend considerable time reading and thinking about difficult questions. Not everyone gets to do that. Nathanael also been honored with the opportunity to teach others and when all goes well, help them to see the world a bit more clearly. Helping someone to reach that “aha” moment is really exciting for him. What does the future hold for Nathanael? He would like to continue teaching and also doing research at a college or university.
No Looking Back After two years majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University, Tyler Joseph made the decision to leave college to further dedicate himself to music. Although his parents may have questioned the risk, he was motivated to pursue this career because of the extreme power of music, and the potential impact in all areas of his life. The risk paid off. Twenty One Pilots formed in 2009, and the band signed on with Atlantic Records label “Fueled By Ramen” in 2012. Tyler then signed a publishing/ song writing agreement with Warner Chappell Music in 2013. He has not looked back since, being named MTV Artist To Watch 2013, VMA Best New Video Nomination 2013, MTV Global Push Artist 2013, and selling out concert venue after concert venue. Twenty One Pilots was even named AP Magazine Album of the Year 2013. As a self-employed musician, Tyler has quickly learned what it is like to be an employer. Several of his friends from high school are working with him, and while there will always be challenges, he reports that he would not want to be pursuing his music career with anyone else. One of the best things about his career is the opportunity to meet all kinds of extraordinary people, and really see firsthand the impact Twenty One Pilots’ music is having on people all around the world.
Tyler Joseph 2008
Tyler feels that WCS prepared him well for his future, as he was influenced by several teachers at WCS including Dan Roads, Mike O’Donnell, Mike O’Neil, Adam Heath, and Tom Burns. Future plans include continuing to do more of what he is doing now: writing music and performing around the world. If the next five to ten years sees him marrying and starting a family as well, he’s okay with that too.
Fighting to End Human Trafficking Starting Grove City College as a biology major, Elizabeth desired a major that she could apply to a variety of fields. With this in mind, she switched to business management and had the opportunity to intern last summer with the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. The first time Elizabeth heard about human trafficking was in Mike O’Donnell’s freshman English class. He only mentioned it in passing, but she very clearly remembers being struck by the fact that slavery still existed in the world today, and God planted the seeds that would grow into a passion to end human trafficking. She traveled to see the work of Asia’s Hope in Southeast Asia with Adam and Jess Heath. That trip, as well as Adam Heath’s U.S. history class, further opened her eyes to the reality of injustice, and were both key in shaping where she is today. She is grateful for these teachers’ influence. Her work with stopping human trafficking to-date has been extraordinary. To know that she has played a part, however small, in offering hope and healing to victims of human trafficking, and in making people aware of the issue is work she aspires to continue. Elizabeth graduated from GCC with a B.S. in Business Management in May 2014, and plans to work as the Executive Programs Fellow with Polaris Project in Washington, D.C. this summer.
Elizabeth Early 2010
Among her many accomplishments at GCC, Elizabeth knows that she has been able to influence other students interested in anti-trafficking efforts. She has been able to create opportunities for GCC students to engage with the issue, and has shown them that opportunities to get involved in anti-trafficking efforts vocationally do exist. Elizabeth’s future plans include completing a graduate degree, and working full-time in a capacity that allows her to continue to be engaged with the issue of human trafficking. We are certain that she will continue to make a substantial impact, no matter what her future holds.
Christian Worldview Ingrained The fall following high school graduation found Joy Cho packing for the Windy City where she is currently leaning towards pursuing a B.A. in political science at The University of Chicago. At WCS, she really enjoyed government class. Her interest was further piqued when she gained exposure to the political realm by participating in Buckeye Girls State, and also by volunteering for a campaign the summer before her senior year of high school. Although she has been in college for just one year, Joy has been learning to tackle difficult texts that she never dreamed of reading. She has had the opportunity to engage in rewarding conversations with others during class discussions. She is also making a big splash with a weekend column. Check it out by visiting the Chicago Maroon, the student newspaper of the University of Chicago. Joy knows that WCS academics definitely prepared her for college. She was pushed by her teachers, and encouraged to work hard. This ethic is invaluable in the college life. Spiritually, too, WCS provided her with a solid foundation — there are so many different beliefs present at college, but what she learned at WCS during those years is forever ingrained in her heart and mind. Although Joy has not yet had a chance to influence others in her field, we are certain that she will no doubt influence many in the years ahead. After graduating from college, she would like to travel and obtain employment in a government agency.
Joy Cho 2013
Through the Lens of Grace Chris felt a strong calling to enter the ministry and to serve the church because he loves Jesus, and His Bride, the Church. His decision to enter this field was influenced by all of his WCS Bible teachers: Al Iten, Dr. Buzz Inboden, Steve Edmonds, and especially Tom Burns. Tom painted a picture of Christianity for Chris that was real, tangible, and not cliché. He helped Chris process the messiness of his own life through the lens of grace and also helped him work through difficult questions without handing out surface answers. After completing his preseminary education at Cedarville University, Chris earned his Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Chris Beals 2006
Chris serves the Far Hills Community Church in the role of Next Generation Pastor where he provides leadership for the children’s ministry. His greatest reward in this vocation has been watching middle and high school students experience the person and work of Jesus personally for themselves, rather than just in the abstract. Then, watching their lives change because of Christ has been an incredible experience. Also in this role, he has the opportunity to team up with area pastors to work together instead of competing. This has challenged them to work toward the unity of the church rather than try to advance their own agendas. On the home front, Chris and his wife Lindsay have adopted a baby girl named Ellie Grace. He looks forward to enjoying parenthood, along with continuing to serve the church in the next several years, whether that be as a Next Generation Pastor, Teaching Pastor, or Senior Pastor. Chris shares that his favorite WCS memories were participating in Bible studies led by some of the Bible teachers (Cory Baugher, Tom Burns, Al Iten) with his best friends. He will not likely forget those times.
Young. Bright. Called.
Meet Young, Bright, and Called WCS Alumni!