Issue: Fall/Winter 2013
Shirley A. Mullen, 76
I first experienced the power of the Houghton alumni connection when I started my first college teaching job. I arrived in Santa Barbara, California on New Year’s Eve of 1983. I had journeyed four days by car from Minnesota and had plans to stay in a college residence (by myself!) during Christmas vacation while I was looking for an apartment. I did not know a soul in Santa Barbara and hardly anyone west of the Mississippi.
Imagine my surprise to find pinned on the door of my residence room an invitation from Dr. Ron Enroth (Houghton class of 1960) and his family to join them for New Year’s dinner at 6:00 p.m. Even to this day, I can remember the sense of welcome I felt in that strange land of California. I soon discovered that there were two other professors on the faculty with Houghton connections. They provided helpful advice and counsel as I made my way in this new career in this new place.
Over the years, I have discovered that Houghton alumni are everywhere, and that whenever we discover that connection, there is an instant bond. Sometimes it is around a particular faculty member. Sometimes it is around a particular stage in the college’s history. Usually the memories are fond ones. Occasionally, they are not, and we talk about that. In either case, Houghton leaves a deep imprint on the lives of its alumni. This is the place where we discovered how to learn, and first articulated the questions, the ambitions, and the concerns that would shape our future journeys. This is the place where we found lifelong friends, “kindred spirits” who understood our humor, our taste in literature, and the worries that keep us up at night.
This same Houghton that connects us through common memories also prepared us for radically different journeys. Paradoxically, our shared education, rather than make us more like each other, actually accentuated what was distinct and particular within each of us. I see this every spring when I shake hands with our graduates. The seniors are so much more differentiated from each other as seniors than when they came in as first year students. That differentiation only continues as God leads Houghton alumni into their places of service and accomplishment in every corner of society throughout all parts of the globe.
We may follow the journeys of some Houghton friends close at hand. Usually, however, alumni come in and out of our lives for only moments of time. We catch fleeting glimpses of what God is doing in their lives, but rarely have opportunity to catch a vision of the whole. This Houghton magazine attempts to enlarge our vision of the Houghton family; their joys, their achievements, and their challenges.
I trust it will inspire you to want to know more!
Grace and Peace to you today,
Shirley A. Mullen, Class of 1976