Headed in a Northwestern Direction

Vaughn Donahue ’07, who provided the graphics for this story, conducted his college search from Monmouth, Maine, with the help of the Internet. When he Googled “Northwestern College,” sometimes he got us, and sometimes he got Northwestern College in Minnesota. That’s the one he thought he applied to. Oops. He ended up accepted at Northwestern in Iowa instead and thought, “Why not?” Why not, indeed. Regardless of how you got here; we’re just glad you came.

Road Warriors

Every year Northwestern admissions counselors, mostly alumni, hit the road for weeks at a time, recruiting future Raiders. Among their miles of memories are these stories about mapping a path to Northwestern.

It was early December and a big snowstorm had hit. All the counselors canceled their trips except me. Six miles out of Orange City, I spun into the ditch. I used my cumbersome mobile phone to call admissions director Ron [De Jong], who’d warned me not to go. He rescued me, and we drove home in silence. While I was warming up with a cup of hot chocolate, the sheriff called to inform Ron that my Northwestern car had been hit by a rendering truck full of dead livestock, parts of which were now smeared all over it.

Amy (Schmidt ’93) Dahl

The best part was running into students you’d recruited on campus. They’d say things like, “I just want to thank you for helping me get here,” or “I just had the best year of my life.” Recruiting for Northwestern never seemed like work.

Tim Zeutenhorst ’82
1982–89, 1990–91

Mike Hardeman ’00 was a Pella Christian senior who said he didn’t want to go Dordt, where all his classmates were going. Still, I thought—even after our many conversations about Northwestern—he probably would break my heart and go to Dordt after all. He didn’t, and our recruiter/recruit relationship grew into friendship while we were both at Western Seminary and then later ministry partners when Mike and my husband, Jim [’98], were pastors in Sioux County. Not that long ago Mike said to me, “Have I ever thanked you for recruiting me to Northwestern?”

Dana (Smith ’93) Daniels

The only time I didn’t finish my recruiting presentation was at a small school somewhere in rural Iowa. The guidance counselor didn’t think any students were interested in Northwestern but asked if I wanted to talk to students in study hall. I figured I had nothing to lose. I was just getting rolling, telling them all the wonderful things about Northwestern, when I was hit in the forehead with a spitball. I stopped and said, “Who did that?” There was lots of snickering. No one confessed, so I said, “Forget it. Northwestern doesn’t want any of you.”  (I was just kidding, of course.)

Ron De Jong ’71

Trucked to College

As a senior, I was looking for a strong Christian college with a dance team. My boyfriend attended the University of Northern Iowa, so I had my heart set on Wartburg College, just 20 miles from UNI.

Northwestern also fit my criteria, so I checked it out too, and from the moment we visited, my parents loved NWC. At the end of a day on campus, they were convinced I should enroll, and I was in tears.

I wanted to be near my boyfriend, but God wouldn’t let me off the hook about Northwestern. I ended up being so confused about my college choice that I finally told God, “You’re going to need to hit me over the head with the right answer.” Later that day, sitting in the library at my high school, I looked up and a truck for the Northwestern Electric Company was parked outside—white with red lettering.

“OK. I get it,” I told God, and the next fall I packed for Northwestern, where I met my four friends for life.

My boyfriend and I survived too; we’re getting married in September.

Kiley Seligman ’09

A Different Track

Half of my high school class went to Dordt, and I needed a change! I also like Northwestern’s track program.

Jeremy Van Engen ’99

Excellent Choice

Academically and athletically, I had my choice of several colleges. I picked Northwestern because it was a Christian school that stood out in both those areas.

Kim (Rubsam ’80) Rodenbough

Conversion Experience

I wasn’t a Christian, but Northwestern was the only college I visited. I had a music scholarship, and my favorite experience was the band tours, including the 1994 tour in the Ukraine. I became a Christian my freshman year.

Susan West ’94

Best in the Northwest

On a college visit road trip, I stopped at Buena Vista in the morning and Northwestern in the afternoon. There was no comparison. I knew Northwestern was where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life, and I’ve never regretted it.

Deb (Falkena ’91) Russell

Sonny Memories

I picked Northwestern because it was close to home, there were wonderful people there, and the campus was beautiful! What I wouldn’t give to relive some of my college days. I hope someday my son chooses Northwestern and loves it as much as I did then and still do.

Gretchen (Black ’03) Engelmeyer

Dramatic Decision

Northwestern was my third college visit in three weeks. I met Karen Barker and Mr. T [Jeff Taylor], and that evening I saw a production in the former Northwestern Playhouse. Driving home, my mom said, “So what’d you think?” I said, “I’m going to school there,” and that was the last of our visits or talk about any other colleges.

Jonathan Allsup ’02

A Winning Education

I was looking for a college where I could study to be an actuary and play sports. God picked Northwestern for me, and it absolutely changed my life.

I was reminded of that this spring as I followed the news about the women’s basketball team winning the national championship. I read a Sioux City Journal article about Kami Kuhlmann [’13], the tournament MVP, who said her top tournament memory was a player-led Bible study the night before the Final Four. The teammates hardly talked about basketball. Instead they prayed for one another’s lives off the court.

That community: That’s what Northwestern was for me.

Chad Noble ’95

Making Dad Happy

My dad, the Rev. Andrew Meyer, was devoted to the Reformed Church in America (RCA), attending Central College in Pella, Iowa, and then pastoring RCA churches for more than 55 years. The youngest of his 12 children, I was a junior when Trinity Reformed Church in Sibley, Iowa, called him to be their minister.

None of my siblings had attended an RCA college, so I told my dad I wanted to follow in his footsteps and attend Central. He told me there was another RCA college just a few short miles away: Northwestern. I got a great education and was the only one in my family to fulfill Dad’s dream of having at least one of his kids attend an RCA college.

Cindy (Meyer ’76) Jensen

Following the Signs

Before my junior year, my parents organized an ambitious road trip that would take us on a tour of Iowa’s private colleges. When we arrived at Northwestern, I was unimpressed. The campus was small (not much bigger than my high school in Sterling, Ill.). It was raining, and I thought the T-shirt the admissions office gave me was ugly. But by the time we left, my parents had decided: This was the one. I’d decided to go with my friends to a state school.

During Christmas vacation, my mother said I had to make a decision by the end of break. “I won’t go there!” I shouted through frustrated tears. Not a minute later, the phone rang. On the other end was an admissions counselor who’d traveled all the way from northwest Iowa to Illinois to talk to me about Northwestern. It may as well have been God on the line saying, “Northwestern is my plan for you.”

In August 2004, I traveled more than 400 miles to Northwestern, moved into Fern Smith Hall and never looked back. Northwestern became a home where I spent the most memorable four years of my life.

Amy (Vos ’08) Smit

Course Correction

My dad works at a Christian college—Geneva in Beaver Falls, Pa.—and my older sister had been through the college search process, so when my time came, I knew exactly which schools were on my short list. Northwestern? I didn’t even know it existed.

Among my dad’s colleagues at Geneva were Brandon ’02 and Kelly (Huizenga ’02) Van Marel, who first encouraged me to consider Northwestern. Since they were nice enough to copy pages and pages of NWC information for me, I felt obligated to take a look, even though I had no intention of attending a college in Iowa that I hadn’t heard of until recently.

When Brandon, who was a Geneva admissions counselor, visited my high school, he told my classmates about Geneva, but I asked him about Northwestern. What he said convinced me to visit. After the visit, Northwestern went from “No way” to first choice.

But it wasn’t to be—yet. My sister’s college had dropped to the bottom of my list, but I reluctantly gave into family pressure and enrolled there. It didn’t feel right, but I thought maybe God was using my family to show me where I should go.

October of my freshman year, I still was wistfully browsing Northwestern’s website. For the next four months, I prayed, talked with friends and contacted a Northwestern counselor about transferring, a process that needed to include transferring the CCCU tuition waiver for employee children that I’d been granted by my current college. When Northwestern offered me a similar waiver, I knew God was giving me the “thumbs up.”

I made lifelong friends at Northwestern and found my vocation in student development through serving as an RA in Fern. Even though I got here in a roundabout way, now I’m forever red.

Katie Bell ’09

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