Moving Beyond College
BY KRISTI SPURGEON, Walla Walla College media relations coordinator
ach spring hundreds of students graduate from Adventist colleges throughout North America and move into cities all over the country to begin graduate schools, new jobs, and new lives.
Church studies of the religious and moral values of Adventist youth indicate that many young Adventists no longer remain active in the church following graduation.
To help change this trend, Walla Walla College (WWC) initiated a new program last year to connect its graduates with Adventist churches and communities immediately after graduation.The goal of the program—called Beyond WWC—is to create a network of Adventist church members and WWC alumni who are willing to reach out to recent graduates moving into their area, helping them to become an integral part of the community.
|CONNECTING: Graduates Julie Cleveland (right) and Michelle Santana are introduced to Jon Griebel (left), assistant pastor of the Orangevale Adventist church in California, by Paddy McCoy (next to Griebel), director of Village Student Life, during WWC’s graduation last June. Cleveland and Santana plan to move to the Orangevale church area. They met Griebel through the Beyond WWC network, designed to help graduates move beyond college life. [Photo: WWC]
“There is no doubt that young adults are struggling to stay connected to the church in their young adult years,” says Paddy McCoy, director of Village Student Life and a member of the Beyond WWC Committee. “Beyond is an attempt to help our students feel we care about them as individuals post-graduation. Whether their goal is to attend church or not, our goal is to work hand-in-hand with the local church to help meet their needs and keep them stay connected.”
Last year nearly 70 seniors signed up for Beyond. About 70 have already joined so far this year, and more are expected to sign up before they graduate in June.
Beyond WWC helped Heather Phelps, a 2007 graduate, become integrated into her new community. Phelps completed her elementary education degree in winter quarter and is already employed in the Reno, Nevada, area.
“Connections have been made, and I feel really good about that,” Phelps said. “I actually feel like I’m part of the church already.
WWC has shared information about this program with other Adventist colleges and universities with the desire to eventually create an intercollegiate, national Beyond network. Partnering with those institutions will open up more connections and make it easier to facilitate contact with local churches, Beyond organizers say.
“The program is so rewarding,” says Susan Bungard, director of spiritual development at WWC and chair of the Beyond WWC Committee. “We can stay in contact with these graduates and help them connect with other believing communities, succeed in their future lives, and most important, help them stay connected to God.”
For information about how your church can join the Beyond WWC network, call (800) 541-8900 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.