Former students of Eastern Nazarene College often find themselves back at the institution working as faculty and staff members. The Veritas staff decided to shine a spotlight on four alumni who currently work at ENC: Keri Lewis, Philip LaFountain, Lynne Bollinger, and Matthew Thomas.
Keri Lewis, The Director of Community Life, graduated in 2004 as a Communications major.
Lewis notes that the campus has undergone many renovations and academic changes since she was a student here. Lewis says, “There were remodels done on the Cafe, Spange Hall, and Hebrews. There are also changes in Gen-Ed requirements.”
Lewis reflects on her time at ENC, recalling that her “favorite memories come from serving in the Student Government and participating in all the campus events.”
Lewis grew in her faith during her time at ENC. Lewis said, “The faculty, staff, and the chaplain …mentored and disciplined me. I loved chapel as a student here, but I feel like I take more advantage of it now that I’m a member of the faculty.”
The Student Development Office’s staff greatly influenced Lewis’ future after ENC because that was the point when she started to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. It took some bouncing around after college, but eventually, she ended up serving on the campus she once attended.
Lewis’s advice to current ENC students is to “take advantage of any co-curricular activities on campus like guest lecturers, sandwich seminars, Hot Wings & Hot Topics, and the Fusion Missions Trips.”
Dr. Philip LaFountain, theology professor, graduated in 1985 as a religion major. LaFountain was an older student; before college, he spent six years in the Air Force.
LaFountain served as a youth pastor at the Neponset Church in Quincy, thanks in part to Dr. Don Brickley for the opportunity. He was able to live in the parsonage for four years while attending ENC.
LaFountain recognizes the college’s changes in academics but feels the school has maintained its overall look since he attended.
He explains, “They don’t have a lot of land. It still manages to look small, personal, intimate, inviting and beautiful. Since then, they have purchased Old Colony and are re-considering how to use it.”
LaFountain misses the friendships he was able to build at Eastern Nazarene College. As he recalls it was “a rewarding experience.” He misses how the faculty were very personable and gave the campus a vibrant atmosphere.
Upon his arrival at Eastern Nazarene College, LaFountain felt a call to ministry. ENC shaped the direction of his life and gave him structure. He was ordained and prompted to go to seminary.
He describes how he grew in his faith at ENC saying, “When I got here, I had only been a Christian for a year and a half. I had no Christian background. Chapel with the preaching of the gospel was very enticing. The mentorship I received as a form of discipleship was from Dr. Henry Spalding and Dr. Tom Haverly.”
LaFountain’s advice to current ENC students is, “Don’t waste these formative years. Education isn’t automatic. Use professors as resources. Don’t be passive. Invest yourself and take responsibility for your education.”
Lynne Bollinger, Chaplain of ENC, graduated in 1992 as a music education major with a concentration in voice.
Bollinger regards her time serving in summer ministry as a building block for her faith at ENC. Bollinger said, “When I was a student at ENC, my participation in Summer Ministries, A Capella Choir, and discipleship groups helped strengthen my faith. Also, being surrounded by wonderful friends who were all committed to their own spiritual journeys created an environment where I could grow in my faith.”
Bollinger knew that she had a calling for ministry before attending ENC. As a student, she took advantage of the mentorship she received from older and more experienced women on campus.
One of Bollinger’s favorite memories of her time at ENC was the Madrigal European Singers Tour. Bollinger said, “A group of 21 students traveled to 5 European countries over the course of January. It was a life-changing, once in a lifetime trip. We were there during the historic collapse of the Berlin Wall, a memory I will never forget.”
Bollinger left ENC students with these words of advice. She said, “Make lifelong friends across campus, in your graduating class, but also friendships with professors, with upperclassmen, with mentors and sages who are with a deep well of knowledge and life experience.”
Matthew Thomas, adjunct professor, graduated in 2005 with a major in religion.
Thomas believes there is still the same ethos on campus as there has always been despite the administrative changes.
One of Thomas’ favorite memories involves Dr. Malas. Thomas says, “I was in Greek with Bill Malas. I was doing homework with some friends for Greek late one night, and we got hungry. It was 1:00 am and we saw that Bill Malas was still in his office, so we invited him to go to Wendy’s with us, and he did. It was great and rare to have that kind of relationship with the faculty.”
Thomas explains that ENC pushed him to ask the big questions, which helped his faith to grow. Thomas says, “ENC gave me a solid spiritual foundation, the ability to ask the big questions and to do so in the context in a diverse community. It challenged me to understand God deeper.”
ENC helped set a trajectory for Thomas on his road toward ordination. It gave him the courses he needed for his religion major. His goal was to be a pastor at his own church. As of today, Thomas has been a lead pastor for three years.
Thomas’s last words of advice for ENC students is to seek after God in the context of community, celebrate diversity, live a life of hospitality, gain humility, and learn from your differences.