Here’s a posting of some of the tributes given in this year’s Righteous Oaks pinning ceremony. You’ll also find some scattershot photos of the event.
For Adam Perez from Dr. Mark Peters
Perhaps you’ve heard some things about Adam . . . “Lincoln Laureate” . . . “going to Yale” . . . you know, things like that. Because of this, I found it a challenge to develop an approach to properly honor Adam today. So I did some free writing. In my journal. And I came up with a few different approaches:
- Perhaps a rap. And, of course, a highly articulate rap:
In Honors English, his pen it was smoking,
And now look at him, he is Righteous Oaking.
- Or that highest of tributes in Honors English, “Lies and Damn Lies about Adam Perez”:
Let me tell you about Adam. First of all, he definitely has never set foot in Miami. If he had, don’t you think he could speak Spanish better than our Minnesotan?
- Another idea was an Adam Perez tribute in the words of the Peters’ children. So I asked them to describe Adam. And I quote:
“crazy and nice”
“fond of bears”
- But, in the end, I decided on a more serious tone. I decided to read to you from letters of recommendation I’ve written for Adam.
January 29, 2009
“The easiest way to explain Adam’s strengths is to state: ‘He makes a difference’.”
“In my two courses for which Adam has been a student, I attribute much of the positive atmosphere in the class to Adam’s presence.”
February 20, 2009
“Adam clearly professes and lives out his Christian faith. . . . He consistently seeks to live out love for God and love for neighbor.”
February 12, 2010
“He [sets] others at ease and [brings] out the best in them; his comfortable and affirming manner of interacting with people takes place both with his fellow students and professors, in class and outside of class.”
“Adam raises the level of commitment, involvement, and academic excellence among his peers, [both] by modeling diligent study [and] by encouraging [others] to excel in their work.”
“He will fulfill this role with the diligence, care, sensitivity, creativity, and good humor which characterize all he does.”
May 5, 2011
“Adam has demonstrated academic excellence throughout his time at Trinity.”
January 22, 2013 (to the Yale Institute of Sacred Music)
“Adam is a leader in the music department and on Trinity’s campus, and he is well-respected by both peers and professors. Adam’s manner balances confidence and humility, as he seeks to serve others and to achieve excellence in all he does. He is a superior student and musician, is diligent and creative, and follows through on his commitments. Furthermore, Adam receives instruction well, and his intellectual curiosity leads him to ask good questions and to pursue answers both in his coursework and beyond it.”
“I highly recommend Adam to you and am certain that he will excel in his graduate studies at the Institute of Sacred Music.”
In closing, I could think of no better way to end my tribute to Adam than with a tri-lingual non sequitur:
At Trinity he’ll be no mas,
Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras.
For Alissa VanderWilt from Rebecca Verhage:
Alissa, we have known each other since the very beginning of our time here at Trinity and I have grown to love you as the wonderful friend that you are. I have enjoyed the walks and talks we’ve had on our way to church each Sunday. Life is never dull around you because of the energy and excitement you bring to everything. To take a page from my old high school teacher, I decided to share with you all who Alissa is in the form of a few words and phrases. Alissa is an outgoing, carefree, and creative individual. She is quick witted, intelligent, and thrifty. Alissa is spontaneous and athletic enough to make an impromptu decision to run a half-marathon only days before the event. She is a lover of life, a frequent laugher, and a wannabe hippie. She is outdoorsy, and the definition of easy-going. Alissa has the ability to juggle inordinate amounts of work and still enjoy life. Alissa, your love for Christ shows through your actions and is reflected in your complete comfort in just being you, and you are wonderful my friend. I love that you’re always up for new challenges, especially if it includes a map, and look forward to seeing and hearing what God has planned for you in the future! You will be greatly missed.
For Andrew Blok from Kristen Blok
When I was asked to do Andrew’s tribute, I thought I was a pretty good person for the job because I’ve known him a while. All my life actually, because Andrew is my brother.
A few memories that remind me of Andrew. Whenever I hear, “Whaddup, guuuurrrlllll?!” I think of him. Those brilliant red pants that took the campus by storm at the end of last spring. His hair that never is any other length than ‘too long.’ Singing “Sons and Daughters” by The Decemberists on every road trip to and from school. And that awkward moment in the BBC when a girl suggests you go talk to the ‘cute boy in the corner’ only to realize that that cute boy is, in fact, your brother.
I don’t know how many times I have introduced myself at Trinity, only to receive the response: “Are you Andrew Blok’s sister? Oh my word, I love Andrew Blok!” As much as I pretend that this frustrates me, that I want to have my “own identity,” there is no one on this earth that I would rather have for a brother. Andrew is wise, kind, and focused entirely on others, more than almost anyone I know. He has such a joy for learning–I don’t know how many times I came home to find him sprawled out on the floor with a book. Often times, he was fast asleep, but the book was always open beside him. He has an incredible passion for teaching, too, as he’s given me some of the best advice. Andrew taught me the importance of taking responsibility for my education as well as finding joy in the ability to learn and discover, especially through books. I am confident he will be an incredible teacher and continue to bless the new communities he enters. Even if it is just a fraction of the blessing he has been to me, it will be an overwhelming amount. Trinity will never be the same without Andrew Blok. He truly made it a better place. To Andrew.
For Hannah Ullrich from Leah Laky
February 5, 2009. This small-town wilderness girl nervously sauntered toward the doors of the Ozinga Chapel, eager yet anxious to meet other high school seniors for the Founders Scholarship dinner. Inside we took one of the most awkward group photos I have ever participated in. We found our nametags and took our seats to begin eating. One of the “exercises” that we did to get to know the other candidates better was a short introduction including full name, hometown, passions, and a fun fact about ourselves.
A breathtakingly beautiful, young woman walked up to the microphone with elegance and poise. As she uttered the words: “My name is Hannah Ruckman, I am from Peotone, Illinois,” I knew that if Trinity became my new home, I would do my best to interact with this eloquent gem of a woman.
At this point in my life, I was using a cane. For those of you that don’t know or don’t remember, I was seriously injured while playing basketball during my junior year of high school. Long story short, multiple surgeries and physical therapy sessions could not and would not heal me. However, due to the pain, I still spent all of my time either using crutches, a cane, or a wheelchair. As my group did a scavenger hunt in downtown Chicago, Hannah asked to push me so that she could hear more about my injury and more of my life story.
The genuine concern that she had about my personal story was, and still is, overwhelming. As I learned of many ways that she could empathize with me and relate, it dawned on me that a beautiful bond between two sisters in Christ could become a reality if I chose to come to Trinity in the fall.
Now, let’s be honest: Hannah and I both turned out to be Flounders in the end. However, we both kept in touch after Founder’s Weekend and I found deep companionship in her even via the Internet.
Zoom forward about four years or so….zhjoooop. Here we are, about. This gem of a woman is now married to a wonderful man and about to graduate from college and enter her next chapter of life. If I attempted to begin to tell you of the immense strength that Hannah Ulrich is made of, I would need countless hours and many cups of strong coffee to keep my energy alive. She is one of a kind and I love her very much.
This woman, who utilized her fantastic sense of humor and taught me a silly song that created a four-year-long-and-running nickname, also has a heart of gold that has endured much and is eager for all that comes her way, no matter the difficulty. I can’t wait to see what our marvelous God does in her future.
Also known as Herman the Worm, let’s toast to Hannah Ulrich — a strong, beautiful, intelligent, God-fearing woman that Trinity will most definitely be missing in the fall.
For Holli Moote from Andrew Blok
Of all the people I’ve spent time with while at Trinity – and outside of people with whom I’ve shared a bunk bed – I think I’ve spent the most time with Holli. From freshmen year, hours have been spent in playing cards and conversation and just hanging out. And, I think I’ve gotten to know Holli pretty well and as I’ve gotten to know her, I think I’ve learned lots about her, but I guess one will do to share now.
Holli does things and she does them well. She throws herself into the opportunities and tasks set before her. What comes to mind is her time in Indonesia. The original plan of teaching in Thailand took an unfortunate turn toward not working out, so Holli moved the pin in the map east and south and said, “Why not Indonesia?” Now, she’s jumping into two more years there and while she’s probably more prepared than last time, I’m still impressed. I could say the same things about the way she took over the Social Justice Chapter and affected real change on campus in two-semesters worth of hard work toward reusable to-go containers. How she took on and invested in more credits per semester than should be allowed. Participating in enough ensembles to make Christmastide an athletic event for all the running she did between performances. But, most telling of Holli’s investment throughout her life is the time she’s invested in her friends.
It’s well known among Holli’s friends that she claims a “problem with saying ‘no’.” It seems to me that it’s more a penchant for helping people than an inability to deny them assistance. Holli is often ready with homework help and clarification, a listening ear, a word of solidarity or encouragement, and a readiness to help. I’m certain she’ll take this with her wherever she goes: the streets of Portage (not Kalamazoo) or the villages of Indonesia. It’s because of this – not just all the help I’ve received – that I am glad to call her my good friend.
For Kaitlyn Fondrk from Alette Huisman
Kaitlyn. Did you ever let yourself believe this day, this week, would come? Well, it’s here, and you’ve arrived with excellence. I know I don’t know you super well, but you can be certain my respect for you is great. I respect the way you carry yourself, your confidence, your poise, and your diligence. You’ve been actively engaged in many different sectors of life here and you have been a valued leader on this campus. You are gentle, but your presence is strong. People look to you for direction, and are quick to follow your lead. Kaitlyn, you are a wise young woman; one way that is apparent is in the way you speak. Your words and comments are thoughtfully chosen, and when you speak, others listen.
Your joy and passion for Accounting is clearly evident, and also rather inspiring. In a field where it would be easy to get exhausted by rules, numbers, and complicated vocabulary, you have maintained a sense of “sovereignty” as some might say, and I’d dare to say you’ve discovered how Accounting can be used as a Kingdom building tool. Well done; I can’t wait to see how God will use you in that! You’ve remained dedicated and diligent to the end, and that is surly an admirable feat.
As you embark on these next steps in your journey, I am confident God has big plans in store for you! Take the tools and lessons you’ve learned here, and use them to be a blessing to whatever new communities you encounter, in the same way you’ve been a blessing to our Trinity community.
For KC Roller from Allison Lewis
Anyone who knows KC Roller knows that she is the most selfless and encouraging leader you will come across. I remember the first few times that I met KC – she stayed with me when she came for Founders Weekend as a high school Senior. I was so impressed with her for so many reasons (being a top athlete AND a stand out student blew me away), but the one thing that stands out the most to me is how humble she is. KC is a brilliant, intelligent, self-denying person and she constantly lifts others up around her. She is always pouring into those around her and is always willing to lend a hand. Beyond these wonderful qualities, it is evident that KC loves the Lord. She is constantly finding ways to serve him and others. Its no surprise how selfless KC turned out in part because of the wonderful parents who raised her in such a loving home. KC has been shaped by her family and they have been givers and servants as well. KC, it amazes me how you have found time to still be such a great student even amongst all of the commitments you have had throughout your four years here. I have seen you lead others and be a friend to so many. Congratulations on your accomplishments and I am so proud of the honors that you have received. It has been a joy to be your teammate and an even greater one to be your friend. I have no doubt that God will use you in huge ways.
For Kevin Hahn from Professor Rick Hamilton
What can you say about Kevin?
Well he is:
- A free-thinker
- Always prepared and participates in class
- Funny in a sort of weird/nerdy sort of way
- An Apple Cult Evangelist
- Good natured
- Always has good hair
- Sometimes thorough
- Sometimes on time
- A solid team member and leader
- A true trail blazer on both personal and community dimensions
- Amazingly warm and open
- Thoughtful & Insightful
- Someone you can NOT get out of your office
- Musically talented
- A three time intern
- An Honor’s Student
- An Opus Presenter
- A multi-term Dean’s List Scholar
But what will I most remember about Kevin?
- On a warm Fall day, when I was still learning where my bathroom was, and after he and I had had a “difficult” discussion on what he was doing in my class….he invited me, a 61 year old, grey haired, newbe, to join him and his friends at Chapel, so that we could experience the real Jesus, my new community, and so that I could experience the FULL TRINITY Experience (and not just the parenthetic place I was spending way to much time in…”my office”).
- I will never forget his hospitality and the true measure of Kevin’s mind, heart and passion.
- Kevin, after today we will always be linked in mind, heart and now through LinkedIN.
For Leah Laky from Cassie Nelson
Leah Laky. A beautiful woman of God especially gifted at making an entire room laugh until they collapse. Whether it be from virtuosic choruses of “To God be the Glory” or borderline inappropriate compliments or impressions of former teachers, there is never a dull moment with her.
While I reflected on my friendship with Leah and the beauty that she is, Romans 12:15 came to mind. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” I cannot name a single person who has a larger heart than Leah Laky. Her depth of empathy and love for people is truly awe-inspiring. Each conversation I have with her leaves me with an image of Christ. When joy abounds in the lives of those around her, Leah genuinely joins in praise and delight. When sorrow and pain are present, Leah joins in lament and offers comfort that reflects the love of the Lord.
So as Leah finishes her time at Trinity, let us weep with her. She must move from a place that has become home and people that have become family. But let us also rejoice as we celebrate her many accomplishments in the past four years.
Leah, though I will deeply miss your Trinitarian sneezes and comical outbursts in ensemble rehearsals, I thank God for all of the fond memories you leave and wish you the best in this next stage of life.
For Lindsay Slager from Kathryn Andringa
I first met Lindsay in Van 8 on the way to Biloxi, MS on Serve Trip 2011. I thought she was quiet and shy. On Sunday, she asked me to play volleyball and I obliged (didn’t take much). We talked and peppered and she laughed with me when I fell over a table. I knew from then that we would be good friends.
Through the past 2 years of knowing Lindsay, I have seen her come to her own at Trinity. After joining Student Activities as a committee member her Junior year, she stepped up to Student Activities chair at semester, taking on more responsibilities for the next 1 ½ years in that position. She stayed on campus every weekend and attended nearly every event fully embracing this community. I had the pleasure of working on her subcommittee this year and she is a natural leader who cares about all of the people around her. Somehow she was able to balance Novice/ Student Teaching and Student Activities. She never ceases to amaze me.
However, not only has Lindsay been a blessing to this campus and her students, she has been such a blessing to me. From walking around Starved Rock with the Honors program in the pouring rain, 2 Serve Trips, countless games of volleyball, to meals with questions such as “how was your day”, I am so thankful to for all the memories and experiences that would have never had without her. Before I met her, I was the freshman who went to bed at 11 p.m. After meeting her, 11 was just the start. She has truly become part of my Trinity family.
So Lindsay, as you go out of Trinity to go where God is taking you next, know that you have made an impact on this community and on me. Know that you will always be home there. I know that you are going to be a great teacher and that God has big plans for you as you leave Trinity on Saturday. Lastly remember that my door next year is always open to you as yours has been to me the past 2 years. So here’s to Lindsay.