Office of Life Planning External Review

As much as students love Westmont, we have to prepare them for life afterwards. And, that is where the Office of Life Planning comes in. The Office of Life Planning is in charge of equipping our students with tools to better understand who they are and their role in the world. In late January, the Office underwent an external review in order to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the staff. The review team consisted of Patti Hunter (Professor of Mathematics and Vice Provost), Anna Fletcher (Westmont Resident Director), Mark Matthes (Director of University Career Initiatives and Assessment at Biola University), Amy Adams (Director of the Seaver College Career Center at Pepperdine University), and Ita Fischer (former Director of Career Center at Wheaton College). In light of the review, the Office of Life Planning developed these preliminary goals: active participation in external reviews for other departments, increased receptivity to suggestions by others regarding interactions with students and partners within the community, facilitation of necessary growth as a department, and in general, welcome insight for the amelioration of the Office of Life Planning. Thus far, the Office has revitalized their services with Career Cafe (a chance to meet possible employers) once a month and the Resume Doctor opportunity in the DC. They hope that this external review can be a launch pad for more collaboration within and outside the Westmont community.

International Student Services

With “global” as one of the aspects of Westmont that sets it apart from other institutions, the International Student Services was set up to facilitate the international students’ transitions to life in America. Oftentimes these students come to campus and feel overwhelmed by how unfamiliar and different it is from home. It may be the pace of work, the weather, or even the peers who appear to have such unrelatable backgrounds. Simple things like warm wardrobe or personal finances may be a new concept for them. To address their needs, the Student Life Office has developed International Student Services. These services would be for F1 Visa students, missionary kids (MKs), or Third Culture Kids (TCKs). Since this is a new venture, we have assembled an advisory board and constructed a road map to 2017. At this time, the advisory group (led by Edee Schulze) appointed Tiffany Lobner to act as International Student Services Liaison to begin to plan ways to provide opportunities for students to integrate into the community, equip the students with tools and knowledge to thrive academically, and to educate the faculty on different teaching styles to accommodate the international students. With the long term goal to have over 50 international students by 2017, the mode of accomplishing these tasks is collaboration with the Admissions Office, Student Life Office and Center for Global Learning. Together, we can make the international students feel welcome and safe in this community.

Campus Pastor’s Office: “Grit” Chapel Theme for Spring Semester

“Life is hard, and then you die.” Tremper Longman III opens his lecture on Ecclesiastes with these words regarding Qohelet’s musings. To some extent, this motto is true. Life is a series of troughs and peaks, and students need to be equipped to climb out of the valleys. Thus, Ben Patterson has spoken on grit and encourages the student body to “fight the good fight,” especially when the odds are against us. With gratitude (last semester’s theme) as the foundation, grit enables us to face whatever lies ahead. God’s love for us is so pervasive that He meets us in our troubles and helps us rise out of them. Life is indeed difficult; but we have a God who has overcome it all. We can find hope in His faithfulness and the promise of eternal life. Grit can be cultivated by remembering all that He has done, realizing what He is doing, and anticipating His blessings in the future. Between Ben and the various speakers like Holly Beers and Toya Cooper, students learn ways to build and maintain grit.

Counseling Center

College is a time of immense growth. Students are usually away from their parents for the first time. They may need help working through identity and other issues. From devastating break ups to soul searching, the students arrive on the doorstep of the Counseling Center looking for help. And, as a college, we want to be able to provide the services that are needed. Thus far, we have been very blessed by the hard work put in by Marcy O’Hara, Susan Malde, and Ed Wimberly, who have been fixtures at the Counseling Center for over two decades. Wimberly started as a Resident Director but then stepped into the role of counselor. He served in that capacity at Westmont since the late 1970’s and he even agreed to see students off campus at his Montecito office. After all the years of dedication and kindness, these three wonderful Westmont contributors are retiring. And so the next question is: who shall we pass this vital torch to? The answer is being sought as we scour the country for successors to the legacy left by O’Hara, Malde, and Wimberly. The Director of the Counseling Center position is a 10-month contract and an asset to Student Life.

VK Global Re-Entry Pilot Program

Studying abroad is a wonderful and often life-changing experience. However, integrating back into the Westmont community socially and academically can be arduous. Due to the cries for assistance, Anna Fletcher and her team of study abroad alums have developed the VK Global Re-Entry Pilot Program. Through support groups and other resources, this program enables students to process their abroad experience and life afterwards. In uniting those who studied abroad, there are fewer chances for students feel isolated or struggle with culture shock alone. Due to the success in VK, the program is looking to collaborate with Global Education Programs so that there can be a greater support network for the students returning from their time as global scholars. Furthermore, the model used in VK is being considered for implementation in the other dorms. As we seek to improve and broaden students’ Westmont education, we will need programs such as this to facilitate better understanding and meet the demands of re-entering into America and Westmont.

Page Hall Spiritual Formation Coordinator Pilot Program

The first year of college is a whirlwind of excitement and opportunities. As the social activity skyrockets, students might be compelled to spend all their time with people. While this is good, it can come at the cost of spiritual health, something that is invaluable in a time of great change. With this in mind, Residence Life has set up the Page Hall Spiritual Formation Coordinator Pilot Program. Meredith Mueller and Kenny Chism are the live-in Spiritual Formation Coordinators for this first year. They are hoping to make two ‘prayer room spaces’ for students to seek a respite from the demands and distractions of college. Furthermore, Mueller and Chism are educating Page residents on the various places of worship locally. In fact, they are even going as far as orchestrating rides for the car-less first years to local churches. On campus, Mueller and Chism organize worship services and Bible studies that feature upperclassmen. We hope to see Mueller and Chism's legacy continue in Page and hopefully be used in other dorms to develop a strong foundation of faith for the latter years of college and beyond.

“Pillars of Perseverance” Spring Focus Week

Days do not seem long enough. Demands appear to be endless. Work load piles high as relationships need attention. In the few years of college, there is bound to be moments when loss, doubt, and depression creep in. In light of this, students need to be equipped to face the trials at present and in the future. And so, the Focus Week committee organized during the last week of January, “Pillars of Perseverance,” where they discussed the many ways to develop grit in tough times. Through yoga and exercise, students were able to release endorphins that enabled them to play and momentarily forget the struggles. In fact, there were opportunities to walk with professors and gain insight into their journeys through hardships. According to Russell Smelley, the week struck a chord with the student population as they listened to the stories of overcoming adversity. The efforts of Daniel Clapp, Russell, and other members of the Focus Week planning committee were appreciated campuswide. Thank you (gratitude) for persevering (grit) through the hours of preparation and prayer to provide such an indispensable service to our students that will benefit them for years to come.