Each year at matriculation, Bethany College President Scott D. Miller welcomes the first year students to campus. He makes a point to include a special welcome to students who are legacies, those who have a parent who attended Bethany. He also welcomes those who have siblings who are currently enrolled at the College.
This year, Jack Hamm was included in both of those lists. Jack’s older sister, Heather, is a senior at Bethany; his mother, Dana, is a 1986 Bethany graduate.
While Bethany is rich in tradition, from service to a liberal arts education to the historic buildings students live and learn in, Bethany itself has become a tradition in the Hamm family.
Dana grew up in Fairfax, Va. While she was in high school, her mother heard about a local boy going to Bethany. After learning more about the school, Dana and her parents made the trip to Bethany. After meeting with professors and touring the campus, her decision was made. She was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha and graduated with a degree in secondary education.
Dana said when it came time for her children to choose their colleges, she said she let them make their own decisions. “They have different personalities,” she said, adding that Heather is outgoing, while Jack is more reserved. “I wanted them to choose a place they would love for their own reasons.”
For Heather, her reasons for choosing Bethany were evident as soon as she visited campus.
“The class sizes are perfect, and the campus is so pretty. Today really shows that,” Heather said, gesturing toward the fountain surrounded by fully bloomed flowers.
“All the professors know my name. They’ll still see me and say hi two years after I’ve taken their class.”
For Jack, the beauty of Bethany is best seen from afar.
“One of my favorite things is the long, winding road to Bethany. I love coming back to campus and seeing the sunset over the mountains,” he said.
His sister has helped make the transition to college much smoother, he said.
“She really helped me with meeting people. I was kind of quiet when I first got here, and she introduced me to so many people who I’m now friends with,” he said, including some lacrosse players, which has prompted him to play the sport next year.
Dana said there’s one great attribute about the College that her children haven’t personally experienced yet: “I really feel with Bethany, you find your friends, and they are lifelong friends.”
Dana said her sorority sisters and Heather meet up every year at Homecoming, sharing stories of their time with her mother at Bethany. She even has a photo one of her friends snapped a couple years ago, six of her Zeta sisters with her daughter.
“It’s a wonderful place,” Dana said. “And I think that after all these years, people, in their hearts, know it’s a wonderful place.”
Although she doesn’t get to make the trip back to her Alma Mater often, she will be back for Heather’s graduation in May, continuing the tradition of a Bethany College education.