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"Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school."
     -Albert Einstein

Photo of Tom and Nicole

After serving as class agents since 2006, we realized that we have never provided an update about our lives after Westmont. We have appreciated receiving correspondence and letters from many of you and look forward to more in the future. Please contact us if you are interested in providing short updates about recent events in your life. We hope these letters will continue to provide an opportunity to keep you informed about our class, while providing a forum for consistent shameless pandering for alumni support to our College.

In the past 14 years, we have been fortunate to have lived in different areas and meet a wide range of people. We truly feel that our "Education" at Westmont prepared us for the variety of experiences we have had. It taught us to meet new people were they were at in life, and establish lasting relationships. Three moves, eight jobs, one child and a dog later we have so much appreciation for how formative our years at Westmont were in helping us navigate through these changes and what a great foundation it continues to provide as we look ahead.

After our time at Westmont we spent seven years in Santa Barbara. Nicole worked in several different positions in the Corporate Accounting and Finance department at Fidelity National Financial Corporation, and Tom worked for Raytheon for several years as an engineer before returning to school to complete a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering at UCSB.

After Tom graduated from UCSB in 2003, we moved to Columbia, South Carolina as Tom took a position working as the R&D program manager for a startup developing technology directly related to his field of study. Nicole's company was also in the process of relocating from Santa Barbara to Jacksonville, Florida and she was given the opportunity to continue working with her company from South Carolina. With neither of us having ever lived in the south, we packed up our apartment and moved Tom to Columbia over Thanksgiving weekend in 2003 with Nicole to join several months later as her company relocated.

We initially struggled to make this new area home, missing family and friends and having a bit of culture shock while trying to adapt to life in the south. We found, however, that after almost a year of consistently reaching out beyond our comfort zones, we were welcomed into the hearts and homes of many new and different friends both through our church and the local neighborhood. We came to appreciate the hospitality, the sense of community, the state pride, and of course the college football (sorry Westmont, SEC football is something Montecito wouldn't tolerate on a conditional use permit....). We both served in a local church, much different than one we were accustomed to, but one that opened their arms to us as the Body of Christ should. The members didn't allow us to be passive attendees and quickly inundated us with opportunities to serve (despite Tom being reminded by the older members of the church when he taught lessons that "they didn't know who his Mama was", which is very important in the south). We were challenged in dealing with different racial tensions than we were accustomed to, which also forced us to think more critically about things taken for granted from our more familiar cultural context out west. Even now, several years removed from our time in Columbia, we are thankful for our time there. We truly feel that our time at Westmont helped prepare us to learn to serve in ways we had never envisioned.

After six years in South Carolina, an opportunity arose for Tom back in Santa Barbara, working for a startup that was founded by several professors from his doctoral committee. With Nicole continuing to work from home, we decided to move back to Santa Barbara. From the start we knew that if Tom's company was going well, the headquarters would move north to the Bay Area. Although we had assumed the company wouldn't move for at least 2-3 years (if ever), after just a year in Santa Barbara, we were informed that we needed to relocate once again. Although the timing was not what we had hoped for (particularly with Nicole being 8 months pregnant with our first child), we moved to our current home over Labor Day one year ago. After familiarizing ourselves with the bay area (and the local hospitals) we were once again in the process of meeting new people, finding ways to push out of our comfort zone, establishing a new church family, and adjusting to another big change - the birth of our daughter, Cecilia.

As we stay up at night reminiscing about the past and discussing the uncertainty of the future, we both are so thankful for how Westmont taught us to appreciate God's creative hand in our daily lives and look forward to passing that knowledge on to our daughter. We know that many of you can relate to finding your lives in different places than you could have ever imagined 14 years ago, but are glad to share with you in the trust of an unchanging God.

Although brief, we are thankful to be able to share with you and look forward to continuing to serve as your class agents.

Tom & Nicole (Rainer) Katona
Tkatona@decegy.com
NKatona@yahoo.com


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