Published: Spring 2011 in Parents

Distant Parents Keep a Close Connection

Parents Council members provide resources and encouragement to prospective and current parents who live far away.

Relationships matter to Steve and Linda Engdahl; they’re passionate about people. When their son, David ’07, enrolled at Westmont, they wanted to be involved in the college community even though they live in Minnesota. Their daughter Emily ’13 also chose Westmont, and the Engdahls joined the Parents Council last year to better connect to the college and to other parents.

“Westmont makes a commitment to parents you don’t see on many campuses,” Steve says. “When something like the Tea Fire happens, the college keeps parents informed, telling us what we need to know and how to talk to our students about it. We think Westmont maintains a healthy balance between helping students emerge into young adulthood and keeping parents involved in their lives. We have a big investment in this new relationship with our kids, and the college supports it. We like being part of that commitment as members of the Parents Council.”

The Engdahls invite questions from prospective parents who worry about sending students a long distance to school. “They are so anxious to talk,” Steve says. “We come alongside them, encourage them and let them know about our experience.”

“We believe in the liberal arts education and residential experience Westmont provides,” Linda says. “It’s about letting our children go and letting them become the people God is calling them to be. Westmont takes a holistic approach, helping students become world Christians. As parents, we want to shepherd them through that process, not fight it.”

For 29 years, Steve has worked as a middle school counselor at Minnehaha Academy, giving young emerging students the kind of guidance and support he received as a student at the same Christian school in Minneapolis, Minn. He’s deeply rooted in this community and serves on the academy’s Centennial Celebration Committee. “I like the challenge of trying to stay current while holding to tradition and enduring values in the midst of change,” Steve says. “Like Westmont, Minnehaha provides both a strong academic program and a solid spiritual foundation.”

A longtime nurse, Linda joined the staff of a new hospital in 2009 as director of family care services. Designing and implementing her program and being part of a new institution has been rewarding, she says. With her experience in shaping leaders in the health care field, she’s become interested in President Gayle D. Beebe’s work in leadership development and helping people grow.

Steve and Linda met at Wheaton College. Their oldest daughter, Amy, followed her parents there, but David ’07 and Emily ’13 headed to Westmont. David majored in psychology and lives in Colorado where he uses his EMT training to work for the ski patrol in the winter. When the weather warms, he runs white water rafts for a ministry, connecting rafters to nature and teaching them about faith. While at Wheaton, Amy joined her brother on Westmont’s San Francisco Urban semester in fall 2004; they were the first siblings to attend the program at the same time. Amy, the mother of the Engdahl’s first grandchild, also chose nursing and serves as a nurse manager in a St. Paul hospital.

With a double major in psychology and Spanish, Emily thinks about doing ministry or relief work in a Spanish-speaking country. She’ll attend Westmont in Mexico in the fall, studying for a semester in Querétaro. Before she came to Westmont, Emily participated in a short-term mission in Peru with Not for Sale (NFS), the anti-slavery ministry her uncle David Batstone ’80 established. She’s delighted to co-direct the active NFS student group at Westmont.

Steve and Linda seek to keep their faith connected “to the real world and real people. We believe that sincere Christians live out their faith in real terms so people can see what it means to be a Christian,” Steve says. “We’re excited about the Dallas Willard Center and Westmont’s investment in spiritual formation. College students look for authentic spiritual experiences and a long-term walk with Christian brothers and sisters.”

“We are so thankful for what has happened to our kids at Westmont,” Linda says.

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