Stories of Impact, Strategic Campus Enhancement

Andrea Gibson

When Andrea Gibson ’07 arrived in Tanzania in spring 2006, she had little idea how influential one semester would be.

Pushed outside of her comfort zone in a culture vastly different from her own, she realized that “no matter where we are in the world or what challenges we face, we are all just people.” This pivotal moment in her time at Houghton continues to shape her life and career as a therapeutic riding instructor and executive director and founder of Chasing Rainbows, a nonprofit therapeutic equine facility outside Harrisburg, PA.

Gibson recalls how Dr. Jon Arensen, professor emeritus of anthropology, shared ongoing sustainable and culturally valued service projects in the country, and she “fell in love with this mindset toward service.” She returned to Africa after graduation to serve briefly at a children’s home in Namibia. During that trip, she was inspired to found Chasing Rainbows, where she and 75 volunteers provide equine-assisted activities for 50 special needs individuals weekly. “In my current career, my core philosophy is to see beyond the labels of diagnosis to value each individual,” Gibson notes.

Houghton continues to impact Gibson. Her biology education was instrumental to her admittance to the occupational therapy graduate program at Misericordia University. Collaborative research with Dr. Aaron Sullivan, associate professor of biology, provided Gibson with exposure to the scientific process, which she will use again next year in her required master’s degree research. The enthusiastic and expert instruction of equestrian director Jo-Anne Young (’69) influences Gibson daily, while Arensen’s “passion for humanity, service, and experiential learning” continues to inspire her.

“We are each here to play our own roles in our own unique way,” Gibson remarks of her place in the body of Christ. For her, it’s been a journey from Houghton to Africa and beyond.

Stories of Impact, Strategic Campus Enhancement

Joanna Sudlow

From the moment she obtained a flock of chickens and a rabbit as a young girl, Joanna Sudlow ’15 has loved working with animals. Fittingly, when she came to Houghton, she chose to major in equestrian studies, adding a business major in her second year. She now works as an animal trainer at Sight & Sound Theatres in Strasburg, PA, an organization that puts on largescale Biblical theatre productions.

Sudlow’s college career nurtured her affinity for animals and business. She interned at Royal Academy of Art in the Netherlands and at Hunter’s Bay Sport Horses in Virginia and dedicated her summers to serving as a counselor at Houghton’s equestrian camp. At Houghton, Sudlow learned “to dig for answers, continuously ‘sharpen the saw’ in my area of study, and not be afraid to explore new areas of knowledge.”

Sudlow recalls how God showed Himself in the little things. God was visible in “the encouragement received at just the right time from a friend or professor and the financial aid that came through. Over and over, He proved His faithfulness.”

Access and Affordability, Stories of Impact

Donor Impact – Jeffrey Osgood ’79

It was mother’s love that led Joan Osgood to invest in Houghton. She wanted a place where her second son, Jeffrey ’79, would thrive in his training in the sciences. When Jeffrey chose Houghton because of the welcoming, friendly atmosphere, she realized he was joining a community like no other. From students who introduced themselves and welcomed him to professors who supported him at every stage, Joan was amazed at Jeffrey’s transformation at Houghton.

She recalls an episode that was especially poignant. Jeffrey and the entire physics department stayed with the Osgood family while attending an exhibition in New York City. Although Joan had prepared bedrooms for the two faculty members, they insisted on sleeping on the family room floor, sharing in the experience with the students. Their humility and desire to identify with the students astounded her. Osgood reflects, “There is no greater impact than the example of someone’s life—a Christian life—truly lived out in small things.”

When Jeffrey passed away at the age of 27 from cancer, Joan and her late husband Donald Osgood ’52 wanted to honor him in a tangible way. They decided the most effective way was to give to the school where Jeffrey had had so many wonderful experiences. The couple established the Jeffrey Osgood Memorial Scholarship in 1987 to provide funding for students like Jeffrey who were majoring in math or science. They wanted other students to have the kind of rich and empowering educational experience Jeffrey had had—an education that deepened his faith and prepared him for advanced study and a career in the sciences.

For Joan, investing in the education of students is not only a memorial to a son profoundly transformed by Houghton but also a perpetual gift to others who, like Jeffrey, will be impacted for years to come by the dedication and commitment of the Houghton community.

Stories of Impact, Strategic Campus Enhancement

Thomas Forsberg

They’re known by many names: healer, medic, doctor. This is the vocation chosen by Dr. Thomas Forsberg ’01, emergency physician and medical director of emergency services for Central Health in central and southern Virginia where he oversees 75 clinical providers and four emergency departments. He is also the co-founder of Healing Hearts Vietnam, a nonprofit that provides lifesaving cardiac surgeries for impoverished Vietnamese children and professional training to hundreds of Vietnamese physicians and medical staff.

For Forsberg, the symbolic white coat is more than an emblem of his trade. The knowledge it represents integrates with his ever-present faith to bring a sense of calling to his chosen profession. This synthesis of knowledge and faith is what initially drew Forsberg to Houghton’s pre-med program. The presence of Christians in the sciences is more pivotal than ever, for “an intelligent Christian worldview in the sciences opens doors to many who have not heard an intelligent rationale for our worldview,” he notes.

Dr. Charles Bressler, former professor of English, asserted frequently that Christianity is a journey of excitement and wonder—concepts that rang true with Forsberg. Additionally, the First-Year Honors Program in London instilled a deep appreciation for other cultures. The combination of the honors program and Dr. Bressler’s ideas motivated Forsberg to respond to the need for hope, both here and abroad. He graduated with a new outlook on Christianity, his role in the Kingdom, and beliefs that had been stretched and refined.

Faith is about being “all in” for Forsberg, who doesn’t “want to leave anything on the ballfield” when looking back at his impact on the world. Life, he asserts, “is not about you. Life is Christ and His will.”

Stories of Impact, Strategic Campus Enhancement

Nigel Fabien

As a freshman from Trinidad & Tobago standing on the soccer field eager for the tutelage of Coach Dwight Hornibrook, Nigel Fabien ’99 was unaware of the extraordinary journey that lay ahead of him. “My decision to go to Houghton was entirely divine intervention,” remarks Nigel, who now works as a commercial lender with Ares Capital, where he focuses on asset-based lending.

Fabien came to Houghton at age 26, determined to complete a degree and make a difference, particularly as a member of a minority class. His first soccer season was a pivotal time for him. He was plagued with multiple injuries and “felt very pressured—not by anyone but myself—because I felt I was not delivering.” Coupled with financial challenges, this made Nigel unsure if he would be able to return the following year—or that he would be wanted. To his astonishment, Hornibrook and the staff very much wanted him to stay at Houghton, and an anonymous donor provided the remaining funds needed. Years later, Fabien found that it was a fellow teammate who had made it financially possible for him to return for his sophomore year, which led to meeting his wife April (Vaughn ’96) and finishing his accounting degree.

Multiple individuals at Houghton—Hornibrook, coaches Matthew Webb and Stefan Schilke ’91, retired business professor Ken Bates ’71, and host family and former staff members Martha and Bob Whiting—deeply impacted Fabien’s life. In particular, he recalls Ange Szymanski, former head of custodial services, who gave him a job and took him to Promise Keepers, a Christian fellowship event for men. Through his training as an athlete, Fabien developed an appreciation for discipline, the importance of being prepared, humility, and sensitivity to the situations of other people—all significant in his current line of work. In an industry where the dollar reigns and secular views dominate, Fabien tries to demonstrate Christian principles. “The decisions we make,” he says, “they change lives.”

“My household is a Houghton household,” Fabien asserts. His support of athletics and the Student Scholarship Fund reflects his deep appreciation for the lessons, friendships and education he received. “When my time comes and goes, and I am no longer on this earth, I hope other people will keep up the same spirit of giving.”

Access and Affordability, Stories of Impact

Daniel Bussey

Daniel Bussey ’20 is at home on the stage, comfortable in his own skin, even as he sings his heart out. When it came time to apply to colleges, he knew he wanted a Christian environment in which to learn, practice and thrive. Bussey is now entering his sophomore year, studying vocal performance with the plan of a professional career in the performing arts.

This past spring, Bussey was the only first-year student in Houghton’s production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, which allowed him to combine two of his loves: singing and acting. He credits Amanda (Young ’01) Cox, instructor of voice and director of Houghton Lyric Theatre, for having a significant impact on his life at Houghton. According to Daniel, “She encourages me to keep my faith first and do everything to the glory of God.”

Bussey hopes to pursue a career in musical theater and remains committed to serving as “an instrument of God’s love while using my gifts to impact the lives of the audience members.”

Access and Affordability, Stories of Impact

Grace Walker

Walking an unfamiliar road isn’t a problem for Grace Walker ’18, an equestrian performance and business administration double major with a concentration in marketing. Walker is not only a full-time student she is also a young entrepreneur with her own equine riding/jumping/dressage business, G Walker Dressage.

Walker journeyed across the country from southern California to study at Houghton, and it was not until she rode and trained under equestrian director Jo-Anne Young ’69 that she began to consider integrating her passion for equine dressage with the formation of her own small business.

Walker’s faith is the central component of her goals as she seeks to be an example of a Christ-follower in a profession and industry where Christianity is uncommon. Walker remarks: “I want to live out a life that portrays [giving] all glory to God in all of my accomplishments as well as grace in my failures.”

Access and Affordability, Stories of Impact

Stephanie McMahon

As a self-proclaimed planner, Stephanie McMahon ’19 likes to see details sketched out. During her time at Houghton as a biology major with a chemistry minor, she has witnessed God’s gentle guidance down unfamiliar avenues, shaping and molding her life and calling for His purposes.

McMahon came to Houghton eager to pursue a field of study that she was passionate about—as well as participate in a sport that was dear to her—in an environment that encouraged Christ-centered growth. When, in a pivotal moment, she questioned her ability to balance her major and her place on the basketball team, conversations with her coaches Alicia (Campbell ’01) Mucher and Raegan Ryan, as well as support from chemistry professor Dr. Karen (Reese ’93) Torraca, encouraged her to stay steadfast and keep pursuing both. “It was in that moment I learned that I didn’t have to do everything on my own or have it all together all the time.”