The Beginning of Something New
On September 6th, 2019, nearly forty TWU Alumni celebrated the launch of the Edmonton Chapter. It was an exciting night, made possible thanks to the Edmonton Chapter Champions: Jeff Miller (’16), Laurel Kirchner (Shute, ’88), Nathan Foerger (’14).
Before forming this chapter, these three alumni were basically strangers. But now, through their connection to the TWU Alumni Association, they have formed a friendship and are excited to work together to host events in Edmonton.
It all began back in March, when several TWU Alumni gathered to have a farewell brunch for President Emeritus Bob Kuhn (’72) in Edmonton. It was here that Jeff first met Executive Director Brady Schlecker (’10) and saw how many TWU Alumni there were in the area. This became a spark for him to get involved.
“Community is crucial, in so many facets of life,” says Jeff. “I think an Edmonton chapter will bring together many Christians who might normally not interact with each other. Both personal and professional encouragement are sure to be positive outcomes from this community!”
Laurel, who was also at the Brunch For Bob event, says she decided to get involved after watching her son graduate from Trinity Western this past Spring. “It reminded of the importance of connecting with like-minded people after graduation,” she says. “Given that I graduated over 30 years ago, I think had there been an Edmonton Alumni Chapter back then how potentially meaningful it would have been in my life. I’d like our son to have the point of connection that I did not have after graduation.”
Nathan decided to get involved after receiving an inquiry email from the TWU Alumni Association about starting a potential chapter in Edmonton. In his experience, he’s had many opportunities to connect with other alumni from the Counselling program over the years, but now he hopes to create something similar within the broader alumni community.
“I think the Edmonton Chapter has the potential to develop an honest, caring community and network of professionals who can support one another,” says Nathan.
Don’t Go It Alone
All three Champions agree that it is important to be part of a community, and they hope to facilitate a welcoming environment for others to come together and thrive.
“I think the alumni community faces many challenges, both as Christians in business and life in general,” says Jeff. “As alumni in Edmonton, many of us do not normally interact with each other, so connectivity is the first challenge. As a group, Christians are much better equipped to face the ever-growing pressures of the world around us, both in business and personal settings.”
Laurel agrees, citing a study by Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad about the effects of loneliness.
“Researchers in the US looked at 218 studies into the health effects of social isolation and loneliness involving nearly four million people,” explains Laurel. “They discovered that lonely people had a 50 percent increased risk of early death, compared to those with good social connections. Being part of a caring community has a positive impact on an individual’s health—physically, mentally and spiritually. Within the TWU Alumni Edmonton Chapter, the ‘common ground’ is our alma mater. Knowing that we all share the TWU roots is a great starting place for community connection.”
Edmonton is a big city and many alumni are spread to the outlying communities. Nathan recognizes that this could be a problem for some, but believes this chapter could be a powerful way to help people get connected and find a meaningful community.
“Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Don’t feel like you need to do this alone. There are amazing people in Edmonton that could probably support you, or even know what you are going through,” says Nathan. “I hope we can be a community of folks that have some shared experiences at different stages of life offering open and honest feedback.”
The Days Ahead
After the successful launch of the Edmonton Chapter on September 6th, Jeff, Laurel, and Nathan are confident that there is a good community of alumni in this city ready and willing to get connected.
“I foresee a strong and vibrant community of believers in this Edmonton chapter, who regularly come together to both support and encourage each other in our daily lives,” says Jeff.
“This is an opportunity to be part of this alumni chapter from the outset,” says Laurel. “At the event, we made a huge effort to find out what those who attended are interested in, in terms of future events. We’ve got some great ideas, but want to make sure we are moving the chapter in a direction that meets the expectations of those who want to be involved.”
“I hope we can be a community of folks that have some shared experiences at different stages of life offering open and honest feedback,” adds Nathan.
To get involved in this chapter, please join the Facebook group. You can also email us at email@example.com to be placed on the Edmonton Chapter mailing list, to receive updates and information about upcoming events.