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.”

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.”