For some, finding one’s purpose in life is a freeway with a clearly marked onramp and smooth pavement.
But for people like the recipients of this year’s Young Alumni Award reward at McPherson College, purpose was found on a scenic, winding backwoods trail.
So for Kristen Reynolds of McPherson, Todd Frankenbery of Benton, and Jim VanGoethem of Galva, the journey has been just as important as the destination.
These three alumni — all from the class of 1991 — were honored at a special all-campus gathering on Oct. 14. The Young Alumni Award recognizes outstanding MC alumni who have graduated within approximately the last 30 years.
Todd Frankenbery started out as a business major at McPherson College, then considered pursuing eye care as an ophthalmologist or optometrist — until he realized he has a slight phobia about having to treat people’s eyes.
“Fortunately I met my wife Sara, and she showed me where the library was,” Frankenbery said.
Sara helped him to settle on pursuing dentistry, and he earned his undergraduate degree from MC in biology, on a pre-dentistry track.
After graduating from dental school in Oklahoma, he practiced in McPherson, then had an opportunity to become a partner with Anthony Martin in Wichita. In 2008, Dr. Martin retired and Dr. Frankenbery took on a new partner. Today, two more doctors work for them at the practice and about 45 employees in all.
Outside of the workplace, he helps with a number of service activities. One uniquely emotional opportunity came in his senior year of dental school. At that time, Dr. Frankenbery was a member of the Forensic Dental Team that helped to identify victims of the Murrow Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City.
Kristen Reynolds has a heart for helping people accomplish the sort of tasks that most people just take for granted — doing the dishes, typing on a computer, brushing teeth. She took her health arts major from McPherson College and turned it into a career of 24 years (so far) as an occupational therapist — a “sibling” to the field of physical therapy.
Her goal was getting adults in the lives of children with physical impairments to “take over” in caring for them.
“A huge part of my job was to work with teachers and parents and help them to know what I do with children,” she said. “That’s ultimately what I want to do — work myself out of a job.”
In her volunteer work, Kristen tries to help families as well, helping with children, public health, and alleviating poverty. She was one of the founding members of Circles of McPherson County, an organization dedicated to the elimination of poverty, and has volunteered for them ever since. She’s also worked on the advisory board to Prairie View and helped to raise more than $8,000 for the Haiti Medical Project.
While Jim VanGoethem was still a student at McPherson College, he worked part-time for Midwest Electric Service starting in the spring of 1989, then went full-time after graduating with degrees in both Accounting and Economics/Business Administration
Today, he owns the company.
“It’s kind of like I went back home to what I helped build,” he said. “It was a neat experience.”
The work focuses on industrial electrical construction and maintenance at refineries and natural gas compressor stations. Most of the work is for the local CHS refinery in McPherson.
He sees himself as more than a businessman, however; community and church are highly important to VanGoethem. He has put in many hours of volunteer time, trying to make the world around him better.
During the award ceremony on Friday, McPherson College President Michael Schneider praised the recipients as stellar representatives of McPherson College.
“These are some of our very best alumni,” he said, “who exemplify our mission to build whole persons through scholarship, participation and service.”
Visit www.mcpherson. edu for more information about McPherson College.