Embarking on a 115-day, 31-state, 10,000-plus-mile trip across the U. S., writer Shawn Smucker ’99, his wife Maile ‘99 and their four young children departed from Lancaster, Pa., Feb. 15, 2012 and began a life-changing journey. Pursuing a dream to live a simpler life was the main motivator for the couple. “We had both always wanted to travel around the United States,” said Shawn Smucker, who began the travel blog “Writing Across America” to document the family’s journey across the country. (more…)
Archive for the 'Alumni' Category
Cross country and track and field alum Brian Hager ’06 did not quit running when he graduated from Messiah. As he transitioned from being a student to a coach at Messiah, Hager grew to miss the team atmosphere and the friendships he enjoyed as an athlete. In an attempt to reestablish community in his life, Hager helped launch s.w.i.f.t. racing, a running club for alums in the Messiah area.
In the summer of 2008, Brian Hager, his brother Patrick Hager ’08, along with former teammates Eric Bofinger ’07 and Matthew Hahn ’07 brainstormed ways to cultivate community as post-graduate competitive runners. Deciding to start a running club, the core group ran their first race together in October 2008 at the Gettysburg Cross Country Invitational. After many discussions, Brian Hager landed on the name of the club, leading to a conversation about colors and styles of uniforms. (more…)
For alum Nashon Walker ’05, the journey to Messiah College followed a path of uncertainty, unfamiliarity and overwhelming faith. Now eight years later, the grateful alumnus holds onto a stirring testimony.
A childhood on the streets
As a child, Walker experienced the chaos of Philadelphia’s street scene: he grew up with drug-addicted parents, lived with his grandmother and became a father figure for his four younger siblings. By the time Walker reached high school, he had fully surrendered to a life of crime, lawlessness and irresponsibility, following in the footsteps of those around him.
In late 2001, the police arrested and incarcerated Walker, who joined his biological father in a local prison. The “youngest guy on the prison block” seemed destined for a life of corruption.
“I had to grow up very fast,” Walker said. “I knew I had no hope. My life on the streets drove me down a certain path, one I knew wasn’t right.”
In America, giving thanks and spending money, eating turkey and going shopping, have become seemingly interchangeable. Thanksgiving now stands as a two-package deal: a day to indulge in delicious food and a day to splurge at the mall on the deals of a lifetime.
While some roll their eyes in disgust at this display of American consumerism, others create strategic plans to conquer the masses at their local mall. Either way, Black Friday tops the charts as the biggest shopping day of the year.
By the numbers
The concept “Black Friday” originated in Philadelphia and refers to police and bus drivers stuck in a huge traffic mess caused by the convergence of holiday shoppers and football fans arriving in town for the annual Army-Navy football game. Since then, people claim retails stores use this day to bump their sales “into the black,” making them profitable for the year. In fact, Black Friday and Christmas sales account for 20 percent of retailers’ annual profit. (more…)
In 1960, then-Sen. John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. That challenge led to the foundation of the Peace Corps, an independent U.S. government agency that provides trained Volunteers for countries requesting assistance around the world.
Since then, a total of 43 Messiah College alumni have responded to that challenge by serving with the Peace Corps, and the numbers have only continued to grow in the last several years. In 2012, seven alumni were nominated—a notable increase from the three nominations in 2011.
These Messiah alumni have recounted very different journeys—each having arrived at the Peace Corps from an alternate route, having feared and anticipated various elements of their upcoming adventures, and having lived and served in a different location across the globe. But while each alumnus’ journey looks noticeably different, the effects of their experiences look remarkably similar: eye-opening, worldview-shaping and altogether life-changing. (more…)
The game quickly becoming a world-wide phenomenon found a place at Messiah College this summer. Completing each hole in the fewest number of throws with the target of an elevated metal basket, disc golf tops the lifetime fitness chart and is the perfect sport for all ages, shapes and sizes. By installing a course at Messiah College, students, alumni and faculty members hope for players to engage in the beautiful campus while getting great exercise.
As many question the exact birth of this game, most experts give credit to George Sappenfield. Discovering that kids could play golf with Frisbees in 1965, Sappenfield presented the idea to Ed Headrick, an employee of a Frisbee company. Gaining popularity, a group in Rochester, NY held the first national disc golf championship in 1974. Two short years later, Headrick, deemed the “Father of Disc Golf,” started the Disc Golf Association. Today, the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) governs and sanctions rules, tournaments and its 40,000 members. The PDGA predicts 8-12 million people play the sport, estimating a 12-15% annual growth rate. With 3,485 courses world-wide, disc golf continues to spread around the globe. (more…)
On almost any given night of channel-surfing, viewers can tune into one of a dozen or so reality television shows about people who make their living finding treasures in trash. Whether bidding on storage lockers, bargaining with antique collectors, or haggling for the best deal at a pawn shop, junk-hunting television shows feature larger-than-life characters motivated by finding treasure and making a significant profit.
“The allure of finding treasure in trash is something a lot of people get excited about,” says Randy Brown ’05, a fan of “American Pickers,” a History channel show that follows “picker” partners Mike and Frank as they travel the American countryside looking for old, unique pieces to sell in their two Midwestern shops. Brown says, it’s easy to sit in your living room and think anyone can do what these guys do, “but it takes a lot of hard work, knowledge and luck to be successful.”
Maris Miller `08 knows firsthand about the hard work involved in the re-selling of other people’s goods. Miller’s father has been an auctioneer in eastern Pennsylvania for nearly 20 years. “Some shows glamorize auctions, but in reality the auction business is time consuming, demanding and labor intensive,” she says, “The auctioneer often works closely with people who are experiencing transitions related to things such as aging, divorce or death.”
The long hours, back-breaking work and literal piles of trash don’t seem to discourage junk-hunting stars though. Rather, they (and the viewers who tune in week after week) seem highly motivated by their quest to find value—monetary, nostalgic, artist or otherwise—in the most unsuspecting places. (more…)
Ernestia Fraser ’07 won first place in the International Storytelling Competition at the 2011 Hollywood Black Film Festival (HBFF) for her full-length screenplay “Inside the Fallen Moon.” The competition averages 500 script submissions annually.
Fraser chose to get involved with HBFF because of its attention to storytelling. “Every year, I look for competitions to enter my work in,” said Fraser. “HBFF showed a huge interest in the basis of storytelling, so I knew I wanted to get involved.”
Attending festivals is important to Fraser, because it gives her an opportunity to network and view the work of filmmakers. “It was an amazing experience being in Hollywood, and it was even better experience having my hard work recognized,” says Fraser. “It was a meeting place of industry intelligence and opportunity. They hosted informative panels and workshops, and festival goers had the opportunity to meet and speak with Hollywood professionals.”
During the festival, professional actors performed 10 minutes of the finalists’ scripts. Fraser’s script was read by Jackée Harry, an actress from the sitcoms “Sister, Sister” and “Everybody Hates Chris.” “I felt like a mini-celebrity when I witnessed the actors bringing my story to life,” said Fraser. “It was one of the best 10 minutes of my life.”
Synopsis: “Inside the Fallen Moon”
During America’s era of Reconstruction, a confident African-American teenager, Samuel Johnson, desires to obtain a formal education. In reality, there are no black schools nearby and his chances of becoming a lawyer seem very bleak. Samuel soon learns about a new boarding school called Winshier Academy, but he again experiences more disappointment when he realizes that the academy does not admit blacks. In a world where anything is possible, however, Samuel is magically transformed into a white boy by Dinah Fossil, a local spiritist. A deadly plot is set in motion and Samuel, wavering between two black and white worlds, must decide which path will lead him to his own inner truth.
Written by Abigail Long ’12. Printed originally in the Winter 2012 Bridge magazine.
Two hundred miles is a long way to travel. And it’s an incredibly long way to run. But that’s exactly what a group of Messiah College employees and community members did earlier this spring.
Tim Ferret (residence director of Smith and Grantham residence halls) and his wife Annie (who works at Soccer Shots, a company owned by Messiah alumni); Ben Taylor (director of student involvement and leadership programs) and his wife Kerrie (Agape Center); Amy VanDerWerf (director of residence life); Aletheia Schmidt (former residence director of Hess and Kelly residence halls); Dave Downey (residence director of Mountain View residence hall) and his wife Emily; Jay McClymont (director of alumni and parent relations); Mandy Hoffman (residence director of Witmer residence hall); Robin Tilley and Zack Kraehmer (both of Soccer Shots); and Geoff Knight competed in the American Odyssey Relay Race as a part of team Lover of Our Soles. (more…)
In the months between my junior and senior year of college, I took a job wrangling at a guest ranch in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest in Grand Teton National Park. I was hoping for nothing more than the chance to ride some good ranch horses and to live — at least for a while — in a place that claims to be “the last of the great West.”
One of my first nights on the ranch, while sitting on the porch of the bunkhouse and looking out into the valley, I watched as the sun disappeared behind the mountains, casting purple shadows across the thick strings of the Buffalo Fork River and the backs of the horses grazing in the lower meadow. I realized in that moment that I would never get tired of the view. No matter how many times I looked out beyond the ranch, the Tetons would always be there, standing behind the river like a promise. And I would always be surprised by how unexpectedly they rose straight and clean out of the valley floor, piercing through thin layers of clouds and cutting into sharp blue sky. In that moment, I knew that this was more than a summer job — that there is a reason people are drawn to this place, to a landscape still wild and powerful. (more…)