Westmont Magazine Parents with Vision
Nini and Keith Sieck had never heard of Westmont when their son Brian ’92 came home from a college fair and announced he intended to enroll. Talking to Dave Morley, dean of admissions, sold him on Westmont, and he never applied anywhere else.
When Brian’s experience more than matched his expectations, his parents and his brother Jeff ’96 took notice.
In 1991, Nini and Keith agreed to serve on the Parents Council, and Jeff arrived as a freshman the next year. The Siecks also started hosting events for new and prospective students in their Edina, Minn., home, and the number of students from Minnesota increased as a result.
“We were honored to be asked to serve on the Parents Council,” says Keith. “Boys aren’t always eager to invite their parents to campus, and we were happy to have a reason to come! And as time passed, we got more involved.”
“I only have one criticism of Westmont—they don’t ask us to do enough,” Nini adds. “Every time we heard David Winter articulate the vision and mission of the college, we got excited all over again—he spoke to our hearts. We wanted to do to anything we could to help.”
Consequently, the Siecks encouraged the Council to begin raising money for projects directly benefitting students. To date, parents have helped fund the Wiegand Fitness Center, new carpeting in Van Kampen Hall, a renovated lounge in each of the other residence halls, and reference materials for the library.
“We know what a heavy burden it is for parents to send a student to Westmont,” Nini notes. “But it’s also a joy to do a little extra to make things better for the kids and easier for the college.
“The actual cost of education is more than students pay in tuition,” Nini continues. “With the lack of endowment, it’s difficult for the college to make up this difference. Many people in the past have helped out, and we want to do the same.”
After Jeff graduated with a double major in religious studies and English (he now works for QAD as assistant website manager), the Siecks retired from the Parents Council. But Nini then accepted an invitation to join the board of trustees.
“We believe very strongly in the liberal arts and want to continue supporting Westmont,” she explains. “Jeff majored in English and religious studies, but he got such a great education, he walked right into a computer job.”
“Because of my work, I’ve been on a lot of college campuses, but Westmont is unique and very special,” Keith states. “The students hold their heads up, look you in the eye, and speak to you when you walk around campus.
“Westmont made a big impact on our sons and gave them an opportunity to grow,” he adds. “It’s the kind of place where you can envision the graduates really making a difference in the world.”
An avid quilter, Nini founded Heartland Samplers, Inc., (which publishes inspirational gift items) and ran the business for 10 years before selling it. She continues to manage her family’s pine tree plantation in North Carolina.
Keith retired this year after a 34-year career in human resources with General Mills. He manages his investments, plays golf with Nini, and hopes to take flying lessons.
Visiting family is a priority. Their eldest son, Russell, is a potter in North Carolina with three children. Jeff and Brian, who owns Trinity Woodworking, a company that builds custom furniture, both live in Santa Barbara.
Long-term commitments are important to the Siecks. They have met weekly for a Bible study with the same five couples for 16 years. “We’ve been around Westmont for 10 years now, and its core vision and purpose have remained the same,” Keith notes. “That impresses us and makes us want to help keep it strong and vital.”