Westmont Magazine The Sands of Westmont
On career day in the second grade, Erika Sands McKinney ’99 wore a Westmont sweatshirt and announced that she hoped to attend the college one day and become a teacher. Both dreams came true.
“Westmont is the only place I applied,” she says. In just three years, Erika graduated with a liberal studies degree and became a special education teacher at La Colina Junior High School in Santa Barbara. She then taught fourth and fifth grades at a private school in Livermore, Calif.
“I love teaching, and I loved Westmont,” she says. “It is such a family school.”
She means that literally. Nine of her relatives are Westmont alumni. Heather Sands ’05, who graduated in May with a degree in kinesiology, is the last of the second generation to attend Westmont.
Rich Sands ’65, builder and president of Hammerwell Construction, met his wife Janice Schardt ’66 at Westmont. They live in Boulder, Colo. Bill Sands ’67 attended the college while his sister, Bernadine, went to Wheaton. Fortunately, she married Westmont alumnus Jim Brumfield ’59, former vice president of Valley Electric Co. in Santa Cruz, Calif. Another Sands sibling, Russell, went to Wheaton as well, but both of his children, Douglas Sands ’84, an attorney and partner at Coblentz Patch Duffy and Bass LLP in San Francisco, and Wendy Sands Potloff ’92, a teacher and mother of two boys, attended Westmont. Not to be outdone by his brother, Bill sent all three of his children to Westmont: Elliot Sands ’94, who is pastor of Church on the Hill in San Jose, Calif., as well as Erika ’99 and Heather ’05.
Bill chose Westmont for its “great education with a Christian atmosphere that allows students to mature in Christ.” After graduating, he spent 16 years in private practice as a dentist in California, three years as a missionary in Nigeria and 10 years as pastor of Cedar Grove Community Church in Livermore. He now directs “Mike Silva Evangelism,” sharing Christ to millions of people around the world.
“Westmont has been central to the Sands family in providing a gracious atmosphere with biblical standards where we can explore the world and our faith,” Bill says. His children have kept him connected to Westmont. “I have financed three kids in the last decade and stayed out of bankruptcy,” he notes. “All have graduated. That is a major investment!”
Always the teacher, Erika instructs her 11-month-old baby, Chad, about the importance of family ties by dressing him in a Westmont T-shirt. This early training may guarantee that a third generation will continue the Sands family tradition at Westmont.