Dean and I became Westmont parents in a rather circuitous way. The older of our two sons graduated from Gordon College in May, where he received a wonderful education and enjoyed many fine friendships as well as four years of soccer. He considered six Christian colleges, but not Westmont.
Our younger son applied to a wide variety of schools, including two Christian colleges, but not Westmont. After much prayer and thought he narrowed his options to Gordon and George Washington University. Late in the evening of April 30 he felt led to George Washington.
That August we set off for D.C. We met the InterVarsity leaders. We learned about the university. We discovered the administration was concerned about the upcoming World Bank talks and had decided to close during those days in September. We left Jeffrey in a seven-story residence hall filled with freshmen directly across the street from the World Bank, three blocks from the White House. We knew we weren’t at Westmont any longer.
On a Tuesday morning about three weeks later, my husband told me about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We sat on the couch watching the news, wondering how to proceed. We attempted to call Jeffrey, but couldn’t get through. We left an e-mail message for him to call my cell phone. We went to work, as we couldn’t figure out what else to do (other than pray, which we were already fervently doing).
Jeffrey called about an hour later. He had been in class at the Mt. Vernon campus. On the bus heading back to the main campus, the driver told the students about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The driver couldn’t navigate back to campus, so he dropped the students off, and they walked two miles through the smoke.
Jeffrey stayed in his room all that long day, phoning about once an hour and instant- messaging his brother and his friends. When I suggested that he contact other InterVarsity students, he didn’t want to leave the building. When I asked about Christians in his hall, he said they were on the seventh floor (he was on the fourth).
The next day, September 12, he went back to class. Four of his five professors didn’t mention the events of Sept. 11. He did attend vigils at GWU and the White House that evening. We called late that night and asked where he was. He said he was walking past the Washington Monument — quite a disconcerting thought.
Fast-forward one year. Jeffrey has decided (again at the last minute) to give Westmont a try. He appreciated his time at GWU but felt the desire to attend a Christian college. On Sept. 11, 2002, the chapel service was dedicated to remembering 9/11. In a music class, the entire period was devoted to discussing 9/11, and Jeffrey was able to share his story with his classmates.
During one difficult period a month later, a professor noticed he was struggling and asked how he could pray. Others supported him when he faced his dad’s open-heart surgery. An art professor taught him to draw in ways he didn’t think possible. Another opened his mind to history and issues related to the Islamic, Arab and Israeli worlds. Now he’s a junior. He loves his classes, has a great group of friends and is very involved with the chapel worship team. A marvelous musician is mentoring him, and Jeffrey is growing and developing his worship leadership gifts.
I have a long history with Westmont and have loved this place as long as I can remember. My dad was a Westmont graduate and a professor during my childhood. My earliest memories are of Westmont students in our home and basketball games at the armory. I returned to Westmont as a student in the 1970s and had a great experience. I appreciated my English major, treasured an England semester trip with Dr. Lynip, loved my Greek class with Dr. Gundry, and learned much from faculty and friends. I returned again to Westmont in the 1990s and have enjoyed my 12 years on staff.
But nothing compares to the joy of being a Westmont parent and seeing the growth and development in our son. For this privilege, I am most deeply grateful.