Double-Duty Doc


David Tilstra juggles two jobs: medical geneticist and medical director of the CentraCare Clinic.

As the health care reform debate continues to rage, Dr. David Tilstra ’83 remains focused on two things: improving care and lowering costs.

A two-job doc, three days a week he’s the medical director at CentraCare Clinic in St. Cloud, Minn., responsible for the Health Care Homes program, which seeks to improve treatment for patients with chronic health conditions like diabetes.

The other two days, Tilstra is a medical geneticist, running a practice that helps the families of patients with genetic issues such as birth defects, mental retardation and autism determine the underlying causes and plan for long-term care.

Both jobs give him the satisfaction of tangible results. At CentraCare, Tilstra has overseen better management of chronic illnesses, leading to results like one patient whose hospital admissions were reduced from 29 over two years to just three admissions last year.

As a medical geneticist, Tilstra plays detective as he searches for a diagnosis (if not already known) and formulates a treatment plan. “I tell parents what the game plan needs to be for the next few years, how to engage the school system to maximize the child’s learning, what to watch for, like seizures or new conditions that might develop. To take clues and try to translate them into solutions—that’s always fascinated me.”

Aim High


Currently stationed at Scott Air Force Base near St. Louis, Matt Huibregtse will become an instructor at the Air Force Academy next year.

For Matt Huibregtse ’01, Sept. 11, 2001, was more than a day of shock and sadness. It was a day of decision. Biding his time in a hometown factory since his Air Force acceptance a month prior, he heard vague reports of planes and towers. It wasn’t until arriving home that he got details—and a phone call.

It was his recruiter. “Training starts next month. Still want to go?”

The Air Force was Huibregtse’s lifelong dream. Four years earlier he had been rejected, high school hockey injuries dashing fighter-pilot hopes. Now he knew his second chance could look very different. Still, he says, the decision wasn’t difficult.

“I remember thinking, ‘If the world needs Christian leaders, now is certainly the time.’ It wasn’t a feeling of grand patriotism. I just knew I hadn’t felt drawn to the Air Force my whole life only to pull away.”

Ten years and two deployments to Iraq later, that same desire to lead drives Huibregtse, now a major. He completed a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology and will become an instructor at the U.S. Air Force Academy next spring.

Huibregtse says he looks forward to the relationships as much as the teaching. “I don’t make decisions that affect national security or put people in harm’s way, but as a Christian leader, I still hope to make a significant and positive impact on those around me.”

Stephanie in the City


Iowa native Stephanie Hague loves life in New York City—and her position with one of the world’s largest ad agencies.

Have you seen the commercial for Macy’s where the shoe salesman walks into the back room and encounters a warehouse filled with celebrities like Martha Stewart, Jessica Simpson and Sean “Diddy” Combs?

Every time Stephanie Hague ’07 sees that ad—and dozens others—she feels a twinge of professional pride. Since 2008, Hague has worked as an account associate for JWT Manhattan, one of the world’s largest advertising firms.

“It’s surreal sometimes,” says the native of West Des Moines, Iowa, who moved to The Big Apple with only a vague idea of what she’d like to do. “I always wanted to live in a bigger city. So without even having a job offer, I gathered all my stuff and headed to New York.”

Hague’s leap of faith paid off. Not only does the business administration/marketing graduate get to rub elbows with the occasional celebrity, she’s responsible for day-to-day communication, finances and account management for clients like Macy’s and Kleenex.

While she’s a long way from Iowa, Hague’s managed to make a life for herself that isn’t all that different from what she had before.

“New York is a very weird and wonderful place,” she says. “I’m fortunate I’ve found very loving, caring and giving friends. The more time I’m here, the more I have grown roots here.”

Christmas Mail


Kori Heidebrink was surprised to find $100 in her Northwestern student mailbox near the end of last semester. She and another student were the recipients of gifts sent by an alumnus to random mailboxes.

Remember those lean college years when you searched the sofa for quarters to do laundry and lived on peanut butter and ramen noodles? How excited would you have been to receive $100 randomly in the mail one day?

Kori Heidebrink, a Northwestern junior, was one of two students who received exactly such a gift this Christmas. She was so surprised, at first she thought the gift was a joke. But it was real money, so she spent some on her mother’s Christmas present and put the rest toward gifts for friends. And, beyond just being grateful, Heidebrink says she’s inspired to give generously when she has a steady income someday.

The donor, an alumnus who chooses to remain anonymous, has been sending $100 to randomly selected Northwestern student mailboxes since graduating a few years ago. He remembers being financially strapped in college, selling his books to buy Christmas presents for his family. It’s a gesture to younger members of the Northwestern family intended to “take one worry off their minds,” he says.

In Heidebrink’s words, “He just wants to make a difference in a few strangers’ lives.”

Classic Comments

All comments are moderated and need approval from the moderator before they are posted. Comments that include profanity, or personal attacks, or antisocial behavior such as "spamming" or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our terms of use. You are fully responsible for the content that you post. Comments posted do not reflect the views or values of Northwestern College.