Moving "Beyond WWC" New Program Connects Graduates with Church

More than 300 students graduated from Walla Walla College (WWC) in June. Now those students are moving into cities all over the country ready to start graduate schools, new jobs and new lives.

Will they become part of the approximately 50 percent of young Adventists reported to leave the church after college?

WWC hopes not. To help facilitate a connection between those hundreds of graduates and the church, the college has started a program called Beyond WWC. The goal of the program is to create a network of Adventist church members and WWC alumni who are willing to reach out to recent graduates moving into their community. These contacts can help provide information about the area, including information about local churches and other young people.

Jon Dybdahl, WWC president, brought the idea to campus, and this was the first year the Beyond WWC network was in place. “Several college presidents had discussed following up with our students after they graduated, but no one really knew how to make it work,” says Dybdahl. “I started thinking that it was something WWC should be able to do.” This year nearly 70 seniors signed up with Beyond WWC.

“We’re thrilled to stay in contact with these graduates and help them connect with other believing communities, succeed in their future lives, and most importantly, help them stay connected to God,” says Susan Bungard, chair of the committee coordinating the Beyond WWC network.

Jessica Eddlemon graduated in June and will begin classes at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine this fall. Before graduation she was part of the Beyond WWC committee. Eddlemon likes the idea of the church actively reaching out to others. “Some members make it their personal ministry to reach out to newcomers. But the church as a whole doesn’t always do that, not because they aren’t hospitable, but because they aren’t aware. This program helps them become aware and the churches I’ve contacted have been very grateful.”

Another way churches can get involved is by joining the Career Network. The Career Network is a searchable database of alumni and others who have volunteered to serve as consultants for career, job and industry information.

“I hope Beyond WWC and the Career Network will connect students as seamlessly as possible with people who want to assist them,” says Nelle Cornelison, Career Center director. “When a student is moving to a new location directly from school they may wish for more than a connection with a church.”

Dybdahl hopes Beyond WWC will continue to benefit both students and communities. “Everyone seems to think it’s a great idea and I’m excited to see that we have so many students involved, especially this first year,” he says.

Beyond WWC plans to partner with alumni and churches in cities throughout the U.S. For more information about the program and ways you can help, contact Nelle Cornelison at (509) 527-2664 or cornne@wwc.edu.

August 01, 2006 / Walla Walla University
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