What can you do with a degree from Bethel College?
Here’s just a sampling of what some of our alumni are doing:
- NASA Scientist
- Broadway Star
- Symphony Conductor
- International Business Leader
- Pro Football CFO
- Hasbro Engineer
- Critical Care Transport CEO
- Global Women’s Advocate
- International Entrepreneur
- New York Philharmonic Musician
- Memory Research Psychologist
- National Sports Game Changer
- Investment Entrepreneur
- Haitian Health Advocate
G. John Dick grew up in eastern Montana, majored in math and physics at Bethel and got a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California-Berkeley. From 1986 until he retired in 2008, John worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
Among John’s NASA projects: technology for the Deep Space Network, which communicates with and enables space science experiments – for example, with the Cassini mission that brought back photos of the rings of Saturn; developing a cryogenic clock that uses synthetic sapphire as the resonating element; and working with the Low Temperature Microgravity Physics Facility, being built to take experiments to the International Space Station.
John is well-known in the field of frequency standards (clocks) for predicting a noise process that has been named the
Dick Effect and is now recognized as a primary performance limitation for state-of-the-art frequency standards.
It’s important, John says,
to have the vision of ourselves as a human race that is probing the frontiers, both physical and scientific.
With Bethel’s main drama professor and voice instructor at the time as her parents, it’s no wonder Rachel de Benedet (née Rachel Kasper) considered the Krehbiel Auditorium stage her playground and was singing as soon as she could talk.
After majoring in fine arts at Bethel, Rachel made her Broadway debut in 1998 as
the third nun from the left in The Sound of Music. She later played Baroness Schraeder in the national touring production opposite Richard Chamberlain’s Captain Von Trapp.
Among Rachel’s music theater credits on Broadway: Nine, with Antonio Banderas, Chita Rivera and Jane Krakowski, which won a Tony for
Best Revival of a Musical; The Addams Family with Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth;
Muriel in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, with both John Lithgow and Jonathan Pryce; and
Paula Abagnale, a role she created and for which she was nominated for a Fred Astaire Award, in Catch Me If You Can.
Off-Broadway roles Rachel has created include
Lureena in Adrift in Macao (which garnered her a Barrymore Award for Best Actress in the original Philadelphia Theatre Company production) and
Lily in Tommy Tune’s Turn of the Century (2012), opposite Jeff Daniels at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre.
Being in a Broadway show is amazing and exciting and something to strive for, but it doesn’t make you a different person, Rachel says.
You’re still you, you’re just you in a Broadway show.
After learning discipline, consistency and a work ethic growing up outside Denver and later on a farm in Aberdeen, Idaho – where he made his first profound discoveries about music – Daniel Hege brought a passion for music to Bethel, the place he learned to channel that passion.
Dan credits his parents with encouraging his many interests, ranging from music to sports to academics, and Bethel faculty for allowing him to keep exploring – which led to his
conducting epiphany one day when he was asked to direct a choir rehearsal.
Dan’s first orchestral post came after he won a prestigious competition, following graduate school: Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Young Musicians’ Foundation Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles.
He went on to associate and resident conductor positions with the Kansas City Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony, respectively. In 1999, Dan became Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. In 2010, he assumed the same positions with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.
Bethel had great musical training for me, Dan says,
and also allowed me to be involved in many things, including earning a history major. It led me to a window where I was able to look out and see what was possible.
A self-described late bloomer, Rick McNary started college at age 29, after working as a carpenter and then being called to pastor a Disciples of Christ congregation.
A hungry little girl in Nicaragua, whom Rick met on a mission trip, changed the course of his life. From that moment on, he knew he wanted to feed as many hungry people as he could and get as many people in the United States as possible to help.
So Rick founded Numana Inc. in November 2009 – which turned out to be almost exactly two months before Haiti suffered a massive earthquake Jan. 11, 2010. The Salvation Army dropped the first packaged high-protein meals, put together by Numana volunteers working in the El Dorado (Kan.) Civic Center, later that month.
Now, Numana staff travel across the country to organize thousands of volunteers who have packaged tens of millions of meals for starving people around the world.
Numana is not me, Rick says,
but it’s God working through me.
International Business Leader
As a teenager, Toshihiro Fukudome dreamed of leaving rural Japan to study in the United States. He wanted to perfect his English and pursue a career as a professor or a politician.
His English teacher, a graduate of Freeman (S.D.) Junior College and Bethel, connected Hiro to both institutions. At Bethel, Hiro’s admiration for his professor J. Lloyd Spaulding led him to earn a degree in economics and business as his early dreams of academia and politics gave way to international business.
Hiro’s first job out of college was with Sanrio, associated with Hallmark Cards and perhaps best known for its Hello Kitty brand. After completing an MBA, Hiro held management positions with the Japanese subsidiaries of Polaroid, Tupperware and Mattel Toys and finally became president of ACCO Brands-Japan, an office products and supply company.
Hiro’s immersion in Japanese and American culture and his extensive global experience have helped him relate effectively to people of diverse backgrounds. He sums up his amazing professional experience by saying:
I prefer challenges to the status quo.
Pro Football CFO
His own sport may have been basketball, but Jeff Goering has made a career out of financial management for the 2012 Super Bowl® champion Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League.
He is now the team’s vice president and chief financial officer, overseeing all functions of the Ravens finance department, including financial reporting and budgeting processes, and serving as the chief financial liaison with the club’s audit/tax advisors and various stadium partners.
He joined the club in 1999, starting out as controller before being promoted to senior director of finance and finally CFO.
After finishing his undergraduate studies in business administration and accounting, Jeff was an audit senior at Ernst & Young, Kansas City, Mo., during which time he earned his CPA certificate. He then went to the University of Massachusetts for his master’s degree in sport management, working as a consultant in the evaluation and preparation of Boston Red Sox salary arbitration cases and as a graduate assistant for the UMass Athletic Department business office.
Before joining the Ravens, Jeff was a senior consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers, Dallas, for two years, working with a number of sports organizations to prepare financial feasibility studies, market assessments and economic impact analyses for proposed new or expanded facilities.
I could have been an accountant anywhere, Jeff says,
but I wanted to take my passion for sports and figure out how to connect that to accounting.
Steve Unruh has found a way to infuse his life with music.
He majored in music performance with education certification as an undergraduate, then earned a degree in electrical engineering at the University of Kansas. He was a public school music director for three years and now has completed a decade with the Hasbro Toy Group.
As a senior electronic engineer, Steve has worked with many of Hasbro’s best-known toys, including Star Wars®, GI Joe®, Transformer® and Playskool® items.
I’ve engineered electronics for a large number of products over the past 10 years, Steve says.
I think I’ve designed more than 100 products that made it into production.
Nor has he given up making music – literally, as he builds electric violins for fun. In addition, he’s part of Resistor, a progressive rock band for which he plays flute, guitar and violin in addition to singing.
He has credits on 22 albums (eight of them solo; four with Resistor). One reviewer calls Steve
sickeningly talented, adding,
He is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist in all of these genres [jazz, folk, progressive rock] as well being a great songwriter, engineer and producer … the epitome of a solo musician.
Critical Care Transport CEO
No surprise: after majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry, Suzanne Wedel went on to study medicine at the University of Kansas, complete a critical care fellowship at the University of Maryland and eventually take a full-time faculty position in surgical critical care at Boston Medical Center.
However, Suzanne also completed a second major, peace studies.
I had diverse interests and at Bethel I was encouraged to keep my options open, she says. She was accepted into a graduate program at the University of Colorado-Boulder, in political science focused on international relations and peace research, but ultimately chose medicine.
She is now CEO of Boston Med-Flight, a critical care transport service (helicopter, jet and ground) for patients in New England, supported largely by the six major teaching hospitals in the Boston area.
As it turns out, Suzanne says,
I’m in a very political arena, very competitive in some parts of the country. One thing I learned at Bethel – you always invite everyone to the party. From all our game theory discussions, I learned how to get everybody [into a position] where they can all win.
At Bethel, everyone can succeed and be recognized in something. At a larger institution, you’re not always able to do that. I developed the skills I needed to succeed.
Global Women’s Advocate
Palwasha Kakar was born in Seattle to medical-student parents – father from Afghanistan, mother from south-central Kansas. She chose her maternal grandmother’s alma mater and did her undergraduate work in global studies, and Bible and religion.
Since 2010, Palwasha has been on the staff of the Asia Foundation, where she is currently director of women’s empowerment and development programs, based in Kabul.
Palwasha earned a master’s degree from Harvard University in gender, religion and politics. She’s now considered an expert in managing programs in an Afghan context – for which she calls on skills learned through the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) at Bethel and in which she focuses particular energy on environment, education and social justice issues that affect women.
Her experience includes managing a small grants program under the auspices of the United Nations in Afghanistan’s civil society initiatives and serving as program manager in charge of establishing the Gender Studies Institute at Kabul University.
Afghan society is very interesting, says Palwasha (who is fluent in Arabic, Dari and Pashtu).
The war, almost three decades long, has caused many traditional societies to come apart – and resulted in opportunities to include and incorporate women’s rights.
His friendship with a Mennonite mission worker helped Po Shin Chang achieve the dream of many ambitious young people in Taiwan in the 1950s – a U.S. college education. After completing his business major, he went on to earn an M.A. in economics at the University of Tennessee, where he also did post-graduate work.
When family obligations called him back to Taiwan, Chang brought his experience working with ENESCO Corp. in Chicago, an importer/distributor of housewares, giftware and tableware from Japan, Hong Kong and Europe. ENESCO was in at the beginning of the Precious Moments® collectibles phenomenon while Chang still worked with the company.
At home, Chang started his own import/export firm.
I returned to Taiwan at the right time [mid-’60s], when the economy was just taking off, he says.
He founded two more companies that operated in investment, construction and importing luxury cars and high-end European fashion apparel and leisure-wear for wholesale and distribution in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and all over China.
He also went into the family business – banking. His father retired as chairman of the board of Chang Hua Bank in 1972, the same year Chang became an executive member. He assumed the chair from 2000 until retirement in 2007, during which time he restructured and re-engineered an institution more than 100 years old into a bank for the 21st century.
New York Philharmonic Musician
Arlen Fast ’74
Arlen Fast didn’t touch a bassoon until he was in high school and didn’t play a wooden one until his senior year.
At Bethel, Arlen explored
what I was interested in. A few life detours later, he finally ended up in a college music program and with his first professional music job, second bassoon in the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.
Arlen went on to spend 17 seasons with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and San Diego Opera, where he first took up the contrabassoon –
two times as long as a bassoon with twice the problems, Arlen says.
In 1995, Arlen won the job of his dreams: contrabassoonist for the New York Philharmonic.
But it didn’t stop there. After figuring out that the contrabassoon’s problems had to do with the register key system – essentially unchanged for a century – Arlen set out to solve them.
Arlen played his
Fast System contrabassoon in its American debut in Brahms’ German Requiem, performed in memory of the thousands who died in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. There are now Fast System contrabassoons in orchestras and symphonies across the nation and the world.
Though Arlen has come far from a farm in Moundridge and a small Kansas college, he credits Bethel with being the place that first
began to expand my view of the world.
Memory Research Psychologist
Angela Troyer ’88
Angela Troyer came to Bethel from Denver with an interest in health sciences.
Bethel gave me a good head start in the sciences. [As an undergraduate,] I was getting graduate-school experience, working closely with professors, doing research. She went on to earn both masters and doctoral degrees in clinical neuropsychology. A practicum on memory testing with older adults changed the course of her intended Ph.D. research.
I got really interested in memory and aging. There’s a lot known, but a lot that we still have to learn, she says. In 1994, a postdoctoral fellowship took her to Baycrest, a system in Toronto that combines care for aging patients with one of the world’s top research institutes in cognitive neuroscience. That led to a job where in addition to her administrative duties, she has an active research program in assessment and intervention for memory changes associated with normal aging and early cognitive disorders. One recent project was a new online memory test comprising a series of exercises and an almost instant final score. This
brain thermometer could help with early detection of problems but also hopefully reassure people that not every memory lapse is worth fretting about.
Even though we hear a lot about Alzheimer’s disease, not everybody gets it, Angela says.
National Sports Game Changer
Cynthia Doyle Perkins ’77
Health, Physical Education and Recreation
Cynthia (Alexander) Doyle Perkins has played the game – and she knows the game.
As a Bethel student, Cynthia was a member of four championship volleyball teams. In her senior year, the Threshers went 26-0 and Cynthia was named KCAC 1st Team.
Cynthia was also on the track team, completing her career holding part or all of 13 KCAC women’s track and field records (some still stand). She was inducted into Bethel’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.
With her degree from Bethel and a master’s in guidance and counseling from Lamar University, Cynthia became an administrator within the National Federation of State High School Associations. She helped high schools across the nation handle everything from Title IX enforcement to transgender athletes to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In addition to being the editor of multiple sport rule books, Cynthia was also responsible for advances that increased safety measures in a variety of high school sports. She currently serves as a school administrator in the Metropolitan School District of Pike Township in Indianapolis.
Diversity isn’t about being comfortable with every aspect of everyone’s culture. It’s about establishing a standard, when there’s a difference, that’s acceptable to both cultures.
Christine Jantz ’78
What can you do with a degree in mathematics? If you’re Christine Jantz, you can co-found Jantz Management – an investment firm for which she built a quantitative model for stock selection that outperforms the S&P 500.
While completing her math degree at Bethel, Christine got hooked on probability theory. She went on to earn two graduate degrees – in statistics at the University of Iowa, plus an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.
She met future company co-founder Sean Morgan at MIT and they began imagining the application of system dynamics, a methodology for studying and managing complex feedback systems, to investment.
Christine gained great job experience in an array of positions and companies, but realized that if she wanted to build investment models she was going to have to start her own company.
Once she did, she could finally concentrate on what really excited her: creating and testing models, combining system dynamics and other quantitative methods with fundamental financial principles and her own observations. Christine is currently president and portfolio manager at Jantz Management, Boston, responsible for the business strategy and investment process, as well as portfolio management, research and development.
It’s much more fun to run your own business than to work for someone else.
Haitian Health Advocate
Wildy Mulatre ’94
Wildy Mulatre, a native of Haiti, took a course in accounting following high school. But he dreamed of more.
In 1990, he successfully applied to the Peace Scholarships program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which took him to Kansas to earn his college degrees.
I am grateful to Hesston College and Bethel College, Wildy says,
because if I am what I am, it is firstly due to God and second to these two Mennonite colleges.
Wildy’s goal was always to return and give back to his community. Since 1996, Wildy has worked as a public health administrator in Hinche, Haiti – planning, organizing and implementing community health projects such as vaccination campaigns and malaria eradication, and working with partners to oversee different hospitals, dispensaries and clinics in more remote areas.
He regularly hosts groups of Bethel students who come to Haiti to serve and learn, and he recently completed his studies for a law degree.
I can say my dreams came true, because I feel happy in my job.