Published: Summer 2006 in Parents

At Home Away from Home

Randy and Diane Weeda Say Their Children Have Found Community at Westmont

Ryan Weeda ’06 had never heard of Westmont when a postcard from the college arrived in his Missouri mailbox. Checking out the Web site, he liked what he learned and eventually applied. A trip to campus, where he met students and faculty, sealed the deal.

Randy and Diane Weeda

Randy and Diane Weeda weren’t sure they wanted their son attending college so far from their Lee’s Summit home. But the visit made them believers. “We were in awe to see Westmont incorporate Christian faith into academics and shape students’ lives in meaningful ways,” Randy says. “Today’s technology, with cell phones and computers, minimizes the distance.”

Although Ryan has graduated with a degree in engineering physics, Rachel ’09 is just a sophomore. With their experience sending two children halfway across the country, Randy and Diane have become members of the Westmont Parents Council.

They can advise parents about airports, long-distance travel and the value of visiting during the year, but they have opinions to share as well. “The best thing parents can do for their students is to back off and let go,” Randy says. “Pray for them, but let them figure it out on their own. That can be hard for parents.”

Diane agrees with Westmont’s emphasis on teaching students to think for themselves. “They need to leave their parents’ faith and develop their own,” she says. “Professors put lots of ideas out there and then let them make up their own minds. As a teacher, I think that’s a good approach. I’m glad that happens at Westmont.”

Like most parents at Orientation, Diane worried a little about leaving Ryan behind. “But when I saw him playing Frisbee on the lawn and laughing, I knew he would be OK,” she says. “I remember thinking as I listened to the president speak that Westmont really was as good as it said it was.”

“We have learned that Westmont is Christian in more than just label,” Randy says. “Professors share spiritually with students while challenging them academically. The college isn’t easy, but it’s challenging in a way that brings growth, not discouragement.”

Ryan mastered the challenge of engineering physics and graduated with honors. But halfway through his liberal arts education, he decided to seek a career in a totally different discipline: film. Screen-writing and film studies classes strengthened a long-standing interest, and he plans to do graduate work at a film school next year. He already has some experience editing the 2006 Spring Sing video and doing some freelance film editing.

Rachel also intends to enroll in film school after she graduates with a degree in English. The salutatorian at her high school, a National Merit Finalist and a candidate for the Monroe Scholarship, she chose Westmont despite being accepted at USC and the film school at Chapman University. “She wanted the broad-based experience Westmont offers and looks forward to doing an off-campus film studies program one semester,” Randy says.

Randy now owns an insurance agency, but he was laid off in 2002 after 20 years in agricultural sales. “I went through a career change and an income adjustment,” he says. “Westmont was wonderful and helped us with grant money for people in our situation.”

The lead teacher in science at her high school, Diane works with the International Baccalaureate program. Like Westmont professors, she regards teaching as a ministry.

The Weedas appreciate the sense of community their children discovered at Westmont. “They have made life-long friends who care about them, help them and keep them accountable.”

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