Nathan Vader graduated in 2013 with a major in English writing and minors in theater and Bible, religion and philosophy. On the side, he edited for the campus newspaper, The Record, authored a book, acted and directed plays.
What do you like most about Goshen and why?
Goshen College was a friendly environment for my academic, spiritual and personal growth during some of my life’s most formative years. Goshen emphasizes social justice and intercultural education, so it’s a great school for anyone who holds up these values alongside their academic ambitions. In the classroom, I appreciated how the faculty challenged us to consider ethical questions alongside intellectual ones. It’s also a great community. I made some of the best friends of my life while living in the dorms during my first and second year.
Why did you choose to come to Goshen College?
I received a sizable scholarship both from Goshen and from my parents’ work at a Christian college in Pennsylvania, which made tuition here very affordable for me. I also wanted to study in Peru. So Goshen offers students strong academics, good values, lasting friendships, an international trip and an iPad. How could you possibly pass this place up?
How has Goshen College influenced your faith or world view?
My academic disciplines allowed me to examine the intersection of philosophy, religion and the arts. I had to start thinking more critically about how artistic works are often coded with cultural values. One thing I often observe in religious circles is some dissonance between what a person knows intellectually and what they believe on faith. Goshen does a good job of challenging students to reconcile faith and reason, so that both are able to complement each other rather than compete in a self-destructive manner. Goshen also has a baffling ability to make just about anyone feel invested in singing traditional hymns. It’s a magical place.
What do you hope to do with your degree?
Right now I am working in Chicago at an organization called Erie Neighborhood House, where I help run a community literacy program for primarily Spanish-speaking adults. The Chicago Mennonite Voluntary Service program (MVS) is supporting me as I do this work. I didn’t hear about MVS until I came to Goshen, so this opportunity is another area where my experience at Goshen has continued to be a blessing. My term in MVS is ending in two weeks, at which point I will be moving to Philadelphia and getting married. I met my partner, Rosa Wyse, at Goshen. She graduated a year after I did with a degree in American Sign Language Interpreting. Right now, my highest goal is to be able to write fiction (even as a hobby), and Rosa’s is to work somewhere within the Deaf community. If we can do those things while paying the bills and buying ingredients for making crepes, we will have all we need to be happy!
What was your Study-Service Term like?
I went to Peru on SST. I have Peruvian ancestry, and it wasn’t my first visit. However, Goshen’s program and service opportunities taught me a lot about the country that I may not have learned otherwise. There are many great SST locations, but Peru is obviously the best choice because (1) you will learn Spanish if you don’t know it already, (2) the national cuisine is famous for being some of the best in the world, (3) you will be able to visit Machu Picchu and (4) alpaca blankets, alpaca hats, alpaca chompas.
What advice would you give a prospective student?
After each class, make a list of everything you need to do, then set your fancy iPad to give you automatic reminders as deadlines approach. It might sound like just another thing to do, but you are going to have so many little assignments that trying to keep track of everything in your head will be more work than letting your iPad or paper planner do it for you. Knowing when things are due ahead of time will also help you ask for an extension when you need one, and teachers are way more likely to give those if you ask before the day the assignment is due. Also, make sleep a priority. While pulling all-nighters might work for a season, you are going to burn out by your junior or senior year (at the latest!) if you make it a habit.