Published: Summer 2007 in Parents

Fostering Family Traditions

Like his father and grandfather before him, Mark Wolfshorndl earns his living from the land. He grows almonds on his 500-acre family farm in Chowchilla, Calif.; his 82-year-old father still oversees an orchard. “It’s satisfying when the harvest comes and you reap the results of your work,” he says. “Being tied to the land is important to me; it’s good to see God’s creation year-round.”

Ellen Wolfshorndl captures the family’s life through scrapbooks, completing 45 volumes since their son’s junior high school class took a trip to Washington, D.C., years ago. She serves as a consultant for Creative Memories and holds workshops at her home twice a month, inviting women to share their ideas and work together to preserve the past.

Mark and Ellen both come from Christian families, and faith is a heritage they honor. They raised their three children in the church, actively participating at Cornerstone Community Church in Chowchilla.

Westmont is another family tradition. Two of their children have graduated, Ryan ’05 and Rachel ’07, and Roslyn ’10 has begun her sophomore year. With six years of experience with the college, Mark and Ellen have joined the Westmont Parents Council this year.

Sending all their children to Westmont has been a challenge financially, and they understand the pressure college payments can create for parents. “It’s been a sacrifice of praise and joy,” Mark says. “We weren’t sure how we could afford it, especially when Rachel and Roslyn both said they wanted to go, but we decided to trust the Lord. He wants us to depend on him, and he has provided.”

When they see what their children have become, Mark and Ellen consider their investment in tuition well spent. “I remember thinking during Ryan’s orientation, when we sat in Page Hall, that we were surrounded by people who wanted the same things for their children we wanted for ours,” Ellen says. “Where better to leave your child? I knew Westmont would nurture them, build them up, teach them and prepare them for life.” “We had done our best — now it was Westmont’s turn,” Mark adds. “We were encouraged because the underlying message we heard was, ‘God is in control.’”

The couple especially appreciate the strong faith of their children.“Westmont made them well-rounded people who can think and defend what they believe,” Ellen says.

The Wolfshorndls visit Westmont as often as they can, and they suggest that other parents do the same. “One of the joys has been meeting our kids’ friends,” Ellen says. “We try to take a group out for dinner — it’s amazing what you learn that way.” They have also enjoyed getting to know other parents and wish they had made those connections sooner. It’s one of the things they hope to promote now that they belong to the Parents Council.

Watching Mark put in long hours in the fields inspired all three children to develop a strong work ethic. Ryan and Roslyn were valedictorians at Chowchilla High School, and Ryan graduated magna cum laude from Westmont with a degree in economics and business. His outstanding academic career helped him win more than $65,000 in scholarships, including a prestigious Liberty Mutual award, given to only 10 college students nationwide. Rachel earned her degree and teaching credential in just four years, squeezing in a Europe Mayterm trip. She begins her first year of teaching at Monroe School in Santa Barbara this fall.

Ryan works in Santa Barbara for Anodos Group, founded by two Westmont alumni, Josh Yager and Rick Fogg. He has passed his third exam in the process of earning his Chartered Financial Analyst designation but needs two more years of work experience before achieving this goal.Networking with Westmont alumni proved to be extremely helpful, and he appreciates the patience of those willing to meet with him even before he graduated.

Mark and Ellen look forward to their last two years as Westmont parents — and to seeing the many ways their children continue to grow.

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