Peeling potatoes in the Goshen College kitchen one afternoon in 1949, Octavio Romero ‘52 switched on the radio to a local station. He was enjoying the music until college dietician Phyllis Roose made him turn it off. She explained that only classical music was allowed. Romero laughs now when recalling little surprises like that one. As a Catholic and one of the first Mexican citizens to attend Goshen College, he had to make a few adjustments to standards of Goshen College student life.
But Romero’s high school chemistry teacher, Harold D. Miller ’36, prepared him for attending Goshen College. There would be no smoking, drinking or movies, he was informed. Romero accepted the rules with aplomb. “I said, ‘no problem, I don’t have any money!’” Romero never got used to hymn singing or long Mennonite worship services, but he loved his two years at Goshen College. “My values are very similar to Mennonite values,” he said. He made many friends and grew so close to his host family that he still keeps in touch with them.
Romero came to Goshen College after Miller noticed his aptitude for chemistry and helped him apply. That first step led to a lifetime career as a chemist. He also followed in the footsteps of his father, an office manager for oil companies in Tampico, Mexico. Romero spent his career working for Shell Chemical in Texas and Saudi Arabia.
This year, Romero, 81, has honored Miller and several other key people in his life by arranging for future scholarships in their names. Romero and his wife, Guadalupe, have designated Goshen College as a beneficiary of a trust fund that eventually will provide scholarships for Goshen College students who are not born yet. But it was the Goshen College students of 1949 and 1950 who led him to make the gift.
“I would like to emphasize the admiration I had for the students,” he said. Romero still has vivid memories of his time at Goshen College. One thing that surprised him was seeing students in the men’s dorm leave wallets on their beds, with no fear that they would be stolen. “That made a tremendous impression on me.” he said.
Romero finished his degree at Louisiana State University and went on to earn an advanced degree in chemistry from Ohio State University. “But I love Goshen,” he said. “It’s a different attitude. It’s a school I really feel something for. I admire ‘Culture for Service.’ I never heard something like that until I went to Goshen. You go to school just to advance – but I had never thought about going to school to serve other people. I volunteer now, and I will give to Goshen for my service.”
Romero’s scholarships also will honor Willard Smith, a history professor who became a good
friend; Glen Miller, his GC chemistry professor; his parents, and his wife’s parents.
His advice to others who may be thinking of helping to provide for Goshen College students is: “Do it! My only sadness is that I will never see [the students’] faces – the joy when they hear about the scholarship.”
To learn more about creating scholarship funds, contact the Development Office at (574) 535-7558 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How it all added up – 2007-2008 Giving
(Fiscal year July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008)
$5,146,285 Overall giving
$2,000,000 Goal for 2007-2008 Goshen College Fund (unrestricted, annual fund)
$2,119,388 Giving for the Goshen College Fund
$3,780,650 Giving by alumni (an increase over last year)
4,459 Number of alumni who gave (an increase over last year)
$200,043 Giving by churches
$101,747 Giving by faculty and staff
$91,997 Giving by the 15-member Board of Directors
100 Percentage of Board of Directors and Alumni Board members who contributed
Limitless Amount of gratitude the college has for all the support
“I am so thankful for the abundant support we have received from alumni, friends, churches and businesses this year. They have captured the vision of where this top-tier Christ-centered academic institution is headed as we prepare students for successful careers and vocations that will both change individual lives and the world.”
–President James E. Brennman