TOGETHER building a future

/uploadedImages/News/News_Release_Images/2011-2012/Jennifer Boen headshot.jpgIt's taken me at least a decade to accept the fact I'm in the "second half" of life. With my 40th reunion coming up at Huntington University, middle age is undeniable. To my six young grandchildren I'm sure I'm "old" but I claim the philosophy Bill Cosby did when he paraphrased the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Old is always 15 years from now."

In Fort Wayne, Ind., I recently attended a dinner organized by Together: The Campaign for Huntington University, which is seeking to raise $21 million for capital projects, endowments and scholarships. During dinner, my husband and I reminisced with other grads about the "good old days": the HUB was a new student center buzzing with activity around the lone TV and three pool tables; our idea of a brisk morning workout was trekking up what seemed like 10 flights of stairs to Davis Hall (the top of what is now Becker Hall); and if we wanted to call home, we stood in line at the one phone available on each dorm floor. Cell phones and the Internet were not in anyone's vocabulary or imagination.

Our memories of HU were a stark contrast to what we heard from current students and faculty during the dinner. Dr. Matthew Ruiz, associate professor of exercise science, talked about the "Bod Pod," which offers a sophisticated, extremely accurate way of measuring body composition. One of Dr. Ruiz's students, junior Mariah Town, talked about the many hours she spends at the "PERC," the Merillat Physical Education and Recreation Complex. Mariah takes classes at the MPERC with students pursuing careers in high-demand professions such as sports ministry, exercise science and recreation management.

Though I loved to write, there was no journalism or communication department when I enrolled at then-Huntington College. By default English was my major. Essays and term papers were composed on a typewriter, albeit state-of-the-art, electric typewriters with automatic correction. And now, hearing broadcasting/film studies major Ryan Schnurr discuss production and HTV newscasts brought back memories of my Huntingtonian editor's duties using the now-extinct "cut and paste" layout method.

And finally, when I learned that creaky Davis Hall has been transformed into a high-tech lab for students working on the next generation of animated films, I was further reminded of how HU, like us grads of decades ago, has changed, adapted and, hopefully, improved.

Through the years, I learned to write stories on a computer. When I recently landed a writing contract from a Reader's Digest magazine for teens, I sought out sources via Facebook and LinkedIn. Within 24 hours I interviewed two teens from opposite parts of the country. Never did I dream of such a thing when I sat in Edwina Patton's Honor's English class.

It's been said that memory is a way for holding on to the things we love, the things we are and the things we never want to lose. I cherish my memories of HU. I never want to lose them. While memories can serve as a springboard to action, they do not build the future. That takes looking ahead careful, prayerful planning for what we anticipate and even for the unanticipated. It means venturing into exciting, unfamiliar but necessary territory so we can grasp every opportunity possible to be all God intended us to be.

Whether you are a relatively new grad or an oldie, or you are linked to HU in another way, let your memories be a catalyst to the university's future for generations of students to come. TOGETHER, with God's help and His blessings, you and I can help write their stories.