Alumni Success Stories
Featured Alumni Success Story
Mariah (Nelesen) Slenk ‘20
Over the past two and a half years, Mariah (Nelesen) Slenk ‘20 has experienced the body of Christ surrounding her like never before.
Making a difference
Trinity Trolls do more after graduation than get a job. They build careers, become leaders in their fields, and leave ready to build lives for good, for God, and for the world. Below are just a few stories of the thousands of impressive Trinity graduates who are out there making a difference.
In 2021 Trinity’s business department launched their new Business Fellows program for some of the top students in the program to experience an enhance level of career support and advice by paring them with an alumni mentor. This past fall, Noah Pavlovics ‘22 learned first-hand just how valuable Trinity’s alumni network can be.
Bermudez is the CEO of M2E Chicago, LLC, a company that helps businesses make marketing easy. “I help small businesses explore a variety of options to strengthen their different marketing channels,” Bermudez described.
Born in Singapore, Sam Mahtani (‘10) and his family moved to the U.S. when he was just five years old. His dad, a pastor, led churches in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. Seeing his dad make a difference by spreading the Gospel inspired Mahtani to do the same – but instead of preaching, he found joy in sharing Christ’s love through soccer.
Josh Stammis ‘17 felt the call to ministry during high school and knew that Trinity was the place he could thrive the most after just one visit to campus. What began as a business communications degree during his freshman year turned into a focus on theology
While many elementary school-aged kids are interested in riding bikes and playing outside, Anna (Spotts) Sall ‘17 had a different interest: the medical field. After learning that her childhood best friend had a liver transplant as a baby, Sall’s curiosity grew, so she began going to her friend’s medical appointments in Chicago, which continued through … Continue reading "Anna (Spotts) Sall ‘17"
Over the past two and a half years, Mariah (Nelesen) Slenk ‘20 has experienced the body of Christ surrounding her like never before.
For Scott Vermeer ‘12, what began as an interest in social work evolved into service with the U.S. Air Force Reserve and ultimately a career as a prosecutor — and he credits his experience at Trinity for helping him identify his calling.
As a nursing student, Baker desired to balance her coursework with life outside the classroom. “I wanted to see all of Trinity’s little corners, especially being part of a department that can take up a lot of your time if you let it. I chose to experience a lot–singing in choir and ensembles, working with the athletic department, to name a few–and that’s what I got out of it.”
Stephen Henderson ‘08 is clearly demonstrating what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus. After his youngest child received an incurable medical diagnosis, Henderson began the important work of involving himself in the redemptive process of healing this broken world. He credits Trinity for preparing him for this journey.
When looking at colleges as a high school student, Rachel Reule ’15 had a good idea of what she was looking for. And Trinity met those criteria. She also knew she wanted to go into a helping profession of some sort, and Trinity’s Bachelor of Social Work degree answered that need, too.
Dr. Paul D. Miantona ’03, DBA, will never forget Saturday, Feb. 26, 1999. That is the day he left behind his refugee life and boarded a plane at the Abidjan International Airport in the Ivory Coast of West Africa to fly to a new life in Philadelphia, and eventually on to Palos Heights, where he graduated from Trinity.
After graduating from Trinity, Emma (Darcy) Schneider ’19 spent a year teaching English at the high-school level. But she missed theater and decided to earn a graduate degree from the University of Chicago in Theater & Performance Studies while serving as theater program coordinator at Trinity.
When Taylor Boice ‘15 was recently named to Fortune magazine’s “Five Star Wealth Managers under 40,” he was surprised and honored. And he credits his time at Trinity for helping to pave the way for his professional career success.
When Lucky Collins ’17 first enrolled at Trinity, she brought a unique perspective as a working adult, wife, and mother of two small children. Now, her career has brought her back to the Trinity community, as Administrative Coordinator of the North American Association of Christians in Social Work, which is headquartered on campus.
Nearly four years since beginning his time at World Relief, it’s clear that Peter Zigterman ’08 is demonstrating Christ’s love through his career, based on the foundations that grew during his time at Trinity.
The first of his family to attend college, Joshua Edwards ’15 is now recreation director for the Blue Island [Ill.] Park District thanks to his hard work and determination and the support of Trinity professors and staff.
Matthew Nolan ’18 didn’t pursue a college degree immediately after graduating from high school. Instead, he worked for more than 10 years before coming to Trinity and earning a double major in computer science and mathematics. And while he was nervous about embarking on a college education at 30, he found a home at Trinity and now has a career he loves as a data analyst at Exelon Corp.
While Amy (Bulthuis) Huckstep ‘09 grew up with a clear picture of what college would look like for her, she didn’t quite know which school she’d attend. Growing up near Trinity meant she was familiar with the campus, and after learning more about what Trinity had to offer, she knew she belonged there.
Peter ’82 and Yvette ’85 Madany grew up on opposite sides of the world from each other – Peter in South Holland, Ill. and Yvette in Shanghai, China. They met at Trinity, fell in love, and recently celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary.
Holli Moote ‘13 always had her heart set on becoming a teacher. Four years at Trinity and two countries later, Moote is living out her passion by teaching music to children halfway around the globe.
Danielle Oeverman ‘18 is part of the second graduating class from Trinity’s speech-language pathology (SLP) program. She credits the College for preparing her for grad school and teaching her the importance of stepping up and standing up for her beliefs.
If Eric VanderSchaaf ‘07 was told during his high school years that he would receive a college degree and eventually start a family-owned food company with his wife – while also raising three children – he might not have believed it could happen. With God’s guidance, the help of several impactful mentors, and his experiences at Trinity, VanderSchaaf is now a proud husband, father, and business owner.
During Shanna Grigoletti’s ‘05 time at Trinity, God laid on her heart the idea of opening her own gym and using it as an outreach to the community. Through a handful of job changes, moves, and other life experiences, Grigoletti saw how God prepared her for the career she is in today.
Becoming an impactful social worker and talented children’s book author are just two ways that Sarah Irvine ’13 grew during her time at Trinity. More importantly, her relationship with God deepened through worship opportunities on campus and her soccer team.
Belinda Adame ’15 pursued a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Trinity because she wanted to help individuals navigate transitions, achieve growth, and assist during their transformation process.
Before Ashley Fazekas MA ’18 began attending Trinity to earn her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, she had worked for years as a medical dosimetrist in the field of radiation oncology. Her decision to change careers and attend Trinity has brought her to a fulfilling new path, as a Licensed Professional Counselor and now as an adjunct professor at Trinity,
As the owner/operator of a Chick-fil-A franchise, Tyler DeKoekkoek ‘14 begins each day by reminding his team, “It doesn’t matter what you believe in. What’s important is how you add value to peoples’ lives around you.” And that’s exactly what Tyler does: He uses his leadership role to positively influence the people he works with and adds value to the restaurant — all tools he acquired during his time at Trinity.
Rachel DeVries ’97 had such a good experience at Trinity earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, she has returned to earn a master’s degree in special education.
Born in Liberia, Tornu Prynce ‘11 moved to the United States with his family in 2001. With the move came culture shock — something Tornu appreciated, because it allowed him to learn alongside people who were different, all while showing Christ’s love to those he met.
A 2018 graduate of Trinity’s Counseling Psychology master’s program, Aneesha Perkins is passionate about helping others become whole and find healing through therapy. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Clinical Psychology (PsyD) at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Washington, D.C.
Alan (MA ’18) and Crystal (MA ’18) Goldbergs’ career paths took an unexpected turn when their son Justin was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 2006 at the age of two and a half.
For Kimberly Mueller ’19, the support of her husband and her faith in God helped her achieve her goal of graduating from Trinity’s Adult Programs with a bachelor’s degree in art education on Dec. 14 and beginning a teaching job a month after graduation.
Illinois State’s Attorney Charley Boonstra ‘09 is a great example of applying the skills he acquired at Trinity to his position as a government attorney, make a difference in the world by showing Christ’s love.
In the sprawling city of Los Angeles, you will find Olivia Winkowitsch ‘17 fulfilling her dream of working in the film industry. Olivia’s passion to grow in her career is met with her experience and ambition to do well, and Trinity played an important role in getting her to where she is today.
Jenna Young ’11, MA ’18 has taken what she learned in the classroom to follow God’s call in her life professionally. And with Trinity being her first Christian school experience, she clearly saw God use her professors and classmates to encourage her to make a difference in the world.
Valeria Gonzalez graduated with honors from the adult studies program at Trinity in May 2019.
With a graduate degree from Trinity, Erin Miller ’17 is working to make a difference in the lives of students and their families in Chicago Public Schools.
Josh DeJong is currently in his final year at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Josh has his heart set on pediatric hematology oncology -working alongside kids with blood disorders and cancer.
Gary Bekker ’73, Ph.D., is retiring after serving for many years in several roles for the Christian Reformed Church.
Joe Velderman ‘04 has always thrived in the world of technology. When it came time to choose a college, he wanted to branch outside of his hometown of Holland, Mich. and decided to visit Trinity. “I felt at home within 10 minutes of being on campus,” Joe recalls.
Alex (‘09), an accounting major, and Emily (‘10), a nursing major, Rusticus — both talented athletes who desired to play college sports — have their own stories about how God called them to Trinity.
Lissette Lopez ‘12 directs women’ programming projects at the Cook County (Ill.) Jail, specifically focused on substance abuse and trauma.
Thousands of miles from where he grew up, Lloyd Wicker (‘97), his wife Heidi (Boeck ‘98), and their three children make their home in Sicily, Italy where Lloyd is stationed as a Navy Chaplain. His upbringing in the Church, impactful experiences at Trinity, and further education all led him to where he is today.
Leah Branderhorst ‘11 is assistant principal with KIPP Austin (Texas) Academy of Arts & Letters
DeBorah Posey ’87 serves as director of operations for U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings (Florida).
Chris Langkamp (‘95) currently holds the title of CEO (Christ Enabling Others) at Lampstand Ministries, the non-profit organization he started 23 years ago.
Megan Anderson’s ‘14 heart for leading others to the Lord developed during high school, when she led a group of her peers in weekly prayer and worship at the public school she attended.
Nate Smith ’16 is a graduate of the Chicago Police Department Training Academy and is a probationary officer to the 007 District in Chicago.
Brittany Lee ’10 is Mental Conditioning Coach at IMG Academy, an athletic training institute in Bradenton, Fla. Before taking her current position, Lee served as Trinity’s Graduate Studies Program Coordinator and Assistant Coach for the women’s soccer team.
“When I first started my college career, I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do. I knew that I had an artistic eye, but I never took art classes in high school so I never thought I was qualified to make it a career. I thought I’d take the safe route and major in … Continue reading “Danielle Truckenmiller ’14”
Anna (DeBoer) Vanderwal ’16 says her English degree from Trinity helped her prepare for every aspect of her job as a marketing specialist for Van Drunen Farms.
After graduating from Trinity in 2005, Kyle Webb found his calling far from home, in Honduras, at Academia Los Pinares.
In my political science degree I had a range of professors—liberal, conservative—and all were great at doing the same thing: They wanted us to push our limits and understand the other side of an argument at all times.
Audit Senior at Deloitte The number one thing I learned at Trinity is that, if you work hard and do your best, there are results. That may not be right away, but people will notice. One thing I struggled with in college was test anxiety. In almost every class every semester I would fail one … Continue reading "Stephanie Reichert ’14"
My junior year, the director of the music program gave a copy of Liturgy and Music. In off hours I read this collection of essays, cover to cover, and I got to the end and gave it back and said, “Oh my goodness.
I spent my first two years of undergraduate at another bigger school pursuing a nursing degree. But something about that school didn’t feel right. Not only did the degree I was pursuing feel off, but I felt like a number, like professors didn’t seem to care if I made it through.
In 2010, Emily (Buter) Rusticus graduated from Trinity’s nursing program and answered a call to the health care industry.
Broadcasting and media relations hometeam missionary “Less than .05 percent of the total resources of the Church in the west are being sent to help share the Good News,” said Genevieve Trieu ’06. “I want to give more than .05 percent. I want to give my life.” As a hometeam missionary on Gospel for Asia’s … Continue reading "Genevieve Trieu ’06"
For people like Chris Verstrate ’96, Chicago, a hub of international business, provides an ideal place in which to practice corporate law.
H3 Headline Matthew Lanser ’05 stands at a small wooden table, a Bible open in front of him, as he teaches Nigerian villagers who have gathered beneath the generous shade of a tree to hear the gospel. He and his wife Laura ’05 currently serve in Nigeria with Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM), the world … Continue reading "Matthew Lanser ’05"
Kurt Schemper ’97, a former Trinity communication arts and theology major, received an Emmy for his work as a producer on Intervention, the A&E Television Network docuseries.
Harold Boyd ’10 grew up in the Roseland community on the south side of Chicago and began attending Roseland Christian Reformed Church around the age of 10. As a child, he enjoyed the fellowship he found at Roseland Christian Ministries (RCM) and remembers the year Joe Huizenga ’01, pastor of Roseland CRC, was an intern from Trinity.
Administrative assistant and assistant to the program director Every morning, Crystal Williams ’11 walks along one of the Great Avenues of the World, passing lovely streetscapes, fine dining restaurants, high-end retail stores, and luxury hotels to reach her office at The Greater North Michigan Avenue Association (GNMAA), which represents more than 700 businesses interested in … Continue reading "Crystal Williams ’11"
While her friends in the United States were shopping at the mall or seeing a movie, she was sitting on a cold, tile floor with a group of orphans playing Go Fish beneath the small glow of a flashlight.
Peace Corps Teacher Clifton Hurt ’09 followed the voice deeply rooted in his heart as he left home to help others overseas. Now a Peace Corps volunteer, Hurt is using his time to serve others in Mongolia. “One day it hit me,” he said. “I am a young Christian with time and strength to serve. … Continue reading "Clifton Hurt ’09"
Culture of Calm Coordinator/College Counselor, Walter H. Dyett High School, Chicago Billy Evans has spent the past several years working in Chicago Public Schools and recently accepted a position in which his main goal is to help develop and carry out strategies that bring peace and unity to a school located in an area of … Continue reading "Billy Evans ’05"
Aaron Tambrini ’97 is a special agent for the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), part of the U.S. Department of State. His work experience reads something like a character sketch of the protagonist in a political thriller.