Hello Class of 1997 -
Fall is here. If you are like us, fall always represents a feeling of starting over, getting ready for a new school year, and football. We also want to pass on exciting news for our class. Many of you are aware and/or participated in this summer's Class Challenge, where we set a goal of our class raising $10,000 in a period of six weeks. We are happy to report that our class surpassed this goal, raising $14,612.65 during that period! Not only did you all exceed our goal, but the Class of 1997 was the second highest class in giving during this period. Thank you for your faithful stewardship to Westmont, particularly during these challenging economic times. Your donations continue to be used to help Westmont close the substantial differential between student tuition and the costs of operations, and also to invest in upgrading the educational facilities on campus. You will read below about how the College opened the new Adams Center for the Visual Arts and Winter Hall for Science and Mathematics in time for the start of this school year. We recently had the opportunity to visit campus and see these new buildings located on the former terraced grass area between the Library and Porter Theater. It is amazing to see the changes that have been taking place on campus. There is also the new Russ Carr Baseball Field, upgraded Track, and Thorington Field for Soccer - all beautiful.
We have asked a couple of our classmates to provide updates which are included below. We would love to hear updates from other members of our class so that we can include these in future letters.
Blessings to you and your families,
Tom and Nicole Katona
Angie (Van Zee) Taylor
After graduating from Westmont over thirteen years ago, I headed east to attend law school at Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Regent is a Christian law school, and I appreciated the opportunity to continue my education in a Christian environment. During the first week of classes, I met a fellow first year law student, Keith Taylor, who became my husband in the summer of 1998. Although we are the brunt of many jokes for being a family of "two lawyers," we enjoyed the few years that we had together studying before having to face the realities of working full time and raising a family. During my years at Regent, I also had the opportunity to clerk for the American Center for Law and Justice, a law firm which specializes in the litigation of constitutional issues. After Keith and I graduated from law school in 2000, we decided to return to California. In the fall of 2000, I began working as a litigator for an Orange County law firm, and have been with the same law firm for the past ten years.
Keith and I have been blessed with five beautiful children; four that are here with us on earth, and one who is in heaven. In early 2001, Keith and I learned that we were expecting twins. About half way through the pregnancy we were given the devastating news that one of our twin boys had a rare neurological condition that was described as "incompatible with life." Trusting that God had a plan for our family, we prayed for a miracle but prepared ourselves for the worst. It is difficult to describe the mixed emotions of fear and anticipation that we experienced as their due date approached. I looked forward to meeting my sons. However, given the doctor's warning that we would likely only have minutes, or at best, hours with Gabriel, I also did not want the time to come too quickly. Our twin boys, Davis and Gabriel, were born five weeks premature. Although born with severe health issues, Gabriel surpassed all of the doctors' expectations, and was with our family for over eight months. We consider our time with him a precious gift, and although there were many difficult days, we chose to try and live as "normal" a life as possible during that time. Through the years, God has granted us the peace to live with the loss of our son. We are confident in the fact that God had a purpose for Gabriel's life. Although we may not know the full extent of God's purpose, we do know that God has used, and continues to use Gabriel's life as a tool to share the Gospel with countless individuals.
In addition to our oldest son Gabriel, we also have four other children: Davis (9), Noah (almost 7), Eliza (4), and Baby Vivian (1). Our daily lives are filled with a wide range of activities. We are active in our home Church and have been a part of a small group Bible Study for the past several years. We cherish the relationships we have made with fellow believers as we live and experience life together. We are also busy running back and forth between swim meets, soccer games, gymnastics lessons, baseball games, and the multitude of other activities our kids always seem to be involved in. Despite the crazy and often chaotic life of juggling the careers of two attorneys and four very busy children, we strive to focus on teaching our children the things that are important in life: loving the Lord, loving family and friends and serving others.
My years at Westmont had such a positive influence on my life. I will forever cherish the relationships, education, and experiences that I had as a Westmont student. I love telling my kids stories about Westmont, and I hope that in the future, they will each have the opportunity to be blessed with a similar college experience.
I still remember my first day arriving at Westmont. My dad thought it was the biggest con job he had ever seen with everyone waving and saying hello. Well, 9 years after that day, with 2 more of my 5 siblings having gone through Westmont, he comments how the genuine and friendly spirit of the Westmont students and campus is beyond comparison to the universities my other siblings attended. I believe a great part of that spirit is created by the giving and missions oriented programs we had the opportunity to be involved with and which helped shape who I am today.
I now live in Vancouver, WA with my wife Michelle and 2 sons Peter and Jakob. I am blessed to live near many Westmont grads, one of which is our classmate and an old roommate of mine, Eric Chirgwin. For the past 13 years since our graduation, Eric, I, and four other men have been getting together three Thursdays a month for an accountability group, the idea of which actually began in our second year at Westmont. Eric is a finish carpenter and contractor, but is currently on staff with Young Life. He is supervising the construction of a multimillion dollar Wild Life Junior High Camp at the Washington Family Ranch in central Oregon. It is an amazing project and a place where many souls will be won by Christ. If you are looking for a family camp, check it out! He is an example to me of how listening to God's call in your life produces fruit beyond what we can ever imagine.
Since Westmont, I have continued to be involved in my community as a pediatric dentist. Besides my practice, I am the dental director for the Free Clinic of Southwest Washington where I serve on their board of directors and volunteer my time providing free dental care for uninsured, low income children. I enjoy teaching weekly at the dental school in Portland, OR from which I graduated. Yearly, I organize a free dental day for our community where we have 150 volunteers that treat dental needs for about 300 children. Since Westmont, I have continued in leadership roles in my local and state dental society, and have enjoyed impacting the lives of children. Practicing with my brother Josef, class of 2000, and my father has been a great joy. We have created a program in our practice where if our patient does a certain number of hours of community service, he or she can earn some of the cost of their dental treatment. It has been rewarding to see entire families get involved in serving others.
Our time since Westmont has passed quickly. I look forward to reading what others are up to, and I am appreciative of Tom and Nicole for all their efforts to keep our class connected and informed. Thanks for all your work.
Homecoming 2010 is October 1 & 2
All paths lead to Westmont for Homecoming Weekend. The schedule and registration details are online at westmont.edu/homecoming2010.
Voskuyl Library has been transformed!
Students are grateful for the newly renovated Voskuyl Library. Thank you for your generous support during our Class Challenge! Read more...
Fall 2010: Adams Center and Winter Hall are finished and open for class
After nearly 2 years of construction, Adams Center and Winter Hall are now complete. Together they offer nearly 80,000 square feet of new space for students and professors. Read More...
Westmont Impact tells the story of us!
Why is the world different because Westmont College exists? For the answer go to westmontimpact.org.
Westmont and your job search
WestmontLink is Westmont's free online job site for alumni. Sign up to search for jobs. Or if you'd like to share an opening with Westmont alumni, click here.