Alumni Crossings

This teacher is 86, but she never learned how to retire

Monday, February 22nd, 2010
Photo by J. Tyler Klassen/Elkhart Truth

Photo by J. Tyler Klassen/Elkhart Truth

Beulah Litwiller Gonzalez ’44 is addicted to working with children.

That’s the explanation the 86-year-old Argentine woman gives for why, 26 years after “retirement,” she still volunteers all day, every day in a kindergarten classroom at Chandler Elementary School in Goshen.

Known as abuelita, an affectionate word for “grandma” in Spanish, Gonzalez has worked in schools – paid or unpaid – since 1944. She says she’s not ready for true retirement yet, because she doesn’t know how she’d fill her days other than by knitting and reading.

Gonzalez immigrated to the U.S. to attend Goshen College almost 70 years ago. After that, she worked in a small county school, taught in a children’s home in Fort Wayne and worked in some public schools in Fort Wayne. Even though she retired in 1983, she didn’t stop teaching. “I decided that I wasn’t ready to leave the classroom, so I offered my services as a substitute,” Gonzalez said.
She said she left teaching “for good” in 2000 – a statement that made Chandler principal Lisa Herr Lederach ’79 laugh – but Gonzalez came back to Chandler recently to volunteer from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day. As a volunteer, Gonzalez said she gives one-on-one time with the students who need it, particularly students whose first language is Spanish.

When the school had parent-teacher conferences, she was there until 7:30 p.m.

– By Audrie Garrison, for The Elkhart Truth

To read the full story about Gonzalez, visit:

Alumnus joins Obama administration

Monday, February 22nd, 2010
Roger N. Beachy '66

Roger N. Beachy '66

President Barack Obama has appointed Roger N. Beachy ’66 as the first director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). NIFA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will fund research and technological innovations aimed at making U.S. agriculture more productive, environmentally sustainable and economically viable.

“I am honored to have been selected for this position by the president and am committed to sharing my knowledge and experiences to help shape research and its applications that will impact agriculture and food in the U.S. and in developing economies,” said Beachy, who since 1999 had been president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Mo.

Beachy, a 2001 recipient of the college’s Culture for Service Alumni Award, is an international leader in plant science. He conducted research that led to the first genetically engineered food crop – a viral-resistant strand of tomato. Through his research, Beachy created rice and cassava crops with improved disease resistance for developing nations.

Beachy earned a doctorate degree in plant pathology from Michigan State University in 1973. He taught at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., headed the division of plant biology at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., and also was an adjunct professor of biology at Peking University in China and the University of California. Beachy and his wife, Teresa S. Brown Beachy ’68, have two adult children.

– By Richard R. Aguirre

Global Innovation Commons

Monday, February 22nd, 2010
David E. Martin '89

David E. Martin '89

A little-mentioned issue [in the climate change discussion] is the proper role of patents in encouraging the development of emissions-free energy technologies.

David E. Martin ’89, an intellectual property activist who works with many developing countries, argues that a great many green technologies are already in the public domain and ready to be developed. They just need to be identified and used.

Martin’s innovation is the Global Innovation Commons (GIC), a massive interactive archive of energy-saving technologies whose patents have expired, been abandoned or simply have no protection. The idea is to let entrepreneurs and national governments query the database on a countryby-country basis to identify helpful technologies that are in the public domain. Once identified, these technologies for energy, water and agriculture are prime candidates for being developed at lower costs than patented technologies.

The World Bank has estimated that the technologies in the GIC database could save more than $2 trillion in potential license fees. Martin argues that patents often serve to impede innovative technologies and make them unaffordable – at precisely the time when all countries of the world, rich and poor, need to adopt cutting-edge energy technologies to cut carbon emissions.

– By David Bollier, for

To read the full story about Martin, visit:

Crossing cultures from Texas to the Marshall Islands

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Christian A. Lehman '96

Christian A. Lehman ’96 has a busy life. Besides being married and having a young son, he is a residence director and career counselor at LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas. Lehman, who majored in interdisciplinary studies at GC and has a master’s degree in cultural anthropology from Indiana University, teaches anthropology as an adjunct professor. And in November, Lehman became LeTourneau’s first director of sustainability.

What he did last summer, however, may have been a bigger challenge: He returned to his native Marshall Islands to be part of a Conclave of Land Owners – a once-per-generation meeting called by the Paramount Chief. About 150 traditional landowners were summoned by the chief to present a complete accounting of all landholdings, tenants and activities as well as their family genealogies and oral histories – in Marshallese.

His maternal grandfather, Atlan Anien ’59, helped write the Marshall Islands constitution and was speaker of the House of  Assembly. His parents, Joe Lehman ’71 and Anna Anien Lehman ’74, raised Christian in the Marshall Islands, Ohio, Goshen and Hawaii, so he’s used to moving between different cultures. Still, Lehman said preparing for and attending the conclave was  extraordinary. “What really strikes me when I’m back in the Marshalls is that people have been living there for 2,000 years  sustainably when so many people in the world have trouble doing so. And there are still people living in ways that are appropriate for the culture.”

– By Richard R. Aguirre

‘Yoder & Son’ take a journalistic journey together

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Graphic provided by The Wall Street Journal Sunday

Stephen Kreider Yoder ’81, San Francisco bureau chief for the The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), and his 18-year-old son Isaac decided to do a different kind of father-son project this year. They have been jointly writing a weekly column for the Journal called “Yoder & Son.”

“Our column has to have some sort of financial groundings each week, but we try to build off each topic to hit a broader theme,” Isaac said. “As a result, the column ends up being more about priorities, ethics and family relationships than strictly personal finances.”

As readers have followed along with them, they have shared their insights, family conversations and thought processes on such issues as: curfews, cell phone use, choosing a college, paying taxes, when to spend/when to save, job compensation and investing. And regularly, the two respond to readers’ feedback and questions in future columns.

“Isaac and I aren’t advice columnists,” Steve said. “We’re more of an in-print reality show. We’re trying to portray our arguments, ruminations and blunderings over money issues in hopes of inspiring discussion among our readers’ families.” Follow along on their family journalistic journey by visiting You can also e-mail them at yoder&

– By Jodi H. Beyeler

Alum’s English pronunciation Web site is not tongue-in-cheek

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

A screenshot of, created by Rachel Smith '01

A linguistics Web site doesn’t seem like an obvious path for someone who studied computer science, applied math and music in college, but Rachel Smith ’01 found a niche that combines all of her interests with the launch of her Web site

The site teaches American English pronunciation based on Smith’s extensive vocal music training – she earned a master’s of music degree in opera performance from Longy School of Music – and her experience teaching English as a foreign language on Study- Service Term. Among other features, she charts all the American English sounds related to each letter of the English alphabet, describing by video the physical positions and movements of her tongue, teeth and lips in making those sounds. With her knowledge, she was able to create and maintain the Web site herself.

“I have had some people find it and tell me it is just what they are looking for; that they really think they can use it to help themselves improve their accent on their own, and to top it off the site is free,” Smith said. “And that is my goal, to have it be a really good resource for self-teaching. Feeling like I’m putting something out there that is helpful to people, as well as connecting with people from all over the world, is probably the most rewarding part.”

– By Tyler Falk ’09

In Siberia for climate change research

Thursday, October 8th, 2009


In the Siberian tundra, alumnus Tim Martin ’91, an earth science teacher at Greensboro (N.C.) Day School, lived and researched with an international team of scientists – from the United States, Germany, Russia and Austria – through the Polar TREC program, where K-12 teachers are paired with researchers in authentic polar research experiences. Martin was selected from applications of about 225 educators.

Martin, part of the “Geologic Climate Research in Siberia” expedition, helped scientists for a month, between March and April, conduct research at Lake El’gygytgyn, a crater lake created by a meteorite 3.6 million years ago. The lake is an important resource to researchers because it is the largest and oldest lake basin in the Arctic that is believed to be undisturbed by glaciers. The goal of the project is to better understand the role of the arctic in global climate change.

Martin’s role in the expedition was to share the science with students, teachers and the general public through their Web site. To read from Martin’s journal, visit:

– By Tyler Falk ’09

Alumnus gets youth excited about writing

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Write on SportsAfter spending his career around professional athletes and sportswriters, it was only natural for Byron Yake ’61 to tap his full Rolodex for a cause greater than himself.
The former Associated Press sports editor – who was at the wire service for 35 years – founded “Write on Sports” in 2006, a two-week summer or 10-week after-school program in several New Jersey cities that encourages middle schoolers to learn how to write by tapping into their love of sports. The program focuses on serving youth with promise who need scholarships and offers opportunities to interview celebrity athletes, hold mock press conferences, create videos, learn how to form compelling and grammatically correct sentences, and learn more about sports.
More than 100 students have participated in the program and have gained a sense of what a career in sports journalism would mean, but “it’s the writing that matters to me. I don’t care if any of these kids become sportswriters,” said Yake, who hopes to expand the program to more cities. “The issue is if a kid can get inspired through sports to learn and enjoy the process of writing. That’s what really matters.”

–Jodi H. Beyeler

Planting ‘Seeds of the Kingdom’

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Seeds of the KingdomWhat could be more fun for a group of young adults than a road trip together? For Matt Troyer-Miller ’05, Elizabeth Troyer-Miller ’06, Mark Gingerich ’05, Randy Keener ’08 and Jessica Roth ’06, such a road trip took them this summer to Mennonite congregations in the Central Plains Mennonite Conference to explore “what it means to talk about peace and live into God’s vision for Shalom while being rooted in Jesus Christ.”
The group, calling themselves Seeds of the Kingdom, started in Kalona, Iowa on June 28 and ended over 4,300 miles later on Oct. 5 in Lebanon, Pa. after trekking through South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Minnesota. At each stop, the group shared from personal journeys and desired to also learn from those they met. Their workshops included remembering the radical commitments of early Christians and an intergenerational session focusing on stories of alternative service during times of war.
“This summer has challenged me to put my faith to words in ways I haven’t done before,” wrote Elizabeth Troyer-Miller on the group blog ( “I don’t think that our faith should all be about words, but for me, as I have had to speak what I believe and why I choose to live the way I do, it becomes more real.”

–Jodi H. Beyeler

Fulbright allows two recent alumni to travel abroad, again

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Karla StutzmanKathryn Stutzman ’07 spent six weeks of her Study-Service Term (SST) in the Dominican Republic working on an iguana farm and Scott Barge ’99 spent three years in Lithuania with Mennonite Mission Network (MMN) teaching English at Lithuania Christian College after graduating from Goshen College.
     This year both Stutzman and Barge are back in the Dominican Republic and Lithuania with Fulbright Fellowships. They are two of 1,450 U.S. citizens to be awarded the fellowship for the 2008-2009 academic year.
     Stutzman says that her SST experience working on a rhinoceros iguana farm inspired her to apply for the program. “I fell in love with the region and the project and saw a need for someone trained in biology,” she said. She began working with the endangered species starting in September.
Scott Barge     Scott Barge also returned to the Baltic nation of Lithuania in September. Now a doctoral student at Harvard, his role in Lithuania is studying the models of higher education in the country. “LCC International University and several other private institutions in the region are implementing liberal arts educational models that are, in some ways, fundamentally different from the more common undergraduate education models of Europe and the former Soviet Union,” he said. “My research will give me the opportunity to better understand the nature of those differences.”

–By Luke Nofsinger ’09