For sisters Angie and Sarah Noah, the beginning of their college careers started with a purple pen.
Sarah, then a high school student in Saginaw, Mich., was in a physics class when she needed a writing utensil. A friend of hers gave her a pen that said "Goshen College" on it. Since Sarah was in the midst of exploring options for college, her interest was piqued.
"I asked her what Goshen was and she said ‘it’s just a small Mennonite college. Nothing you would really care about,’" Sarah said.
Sarah admitted that growing up Lutheran, she was unfamiliar with the Mennonite faith until she began attending a school in a predominantly Mennonite area.
"I hadn’t even heard of Mennonites until my sophomore year of high school," she said.
After graduation, Sarah attended a small community college for a semester before taking some time off to explore some different options for the rest of her life. After a year working third shift at a Sam’s Club, she began looking at schools online when she remembered that little purple pen.
"A week later I was visiting the GC campus and had convinced my sister to make the trip with me," Sarah said.
Meanwhile, Angie had also taken some time off of school to earn some money before going back. She was doing some community theater and had spent some time in St. Louis before giving Goshen a look.
"I knew that I wanted to be a theater major and she was ready to go back to school," Angie said.
During their visit to the campus, they both interviewed with theater director Doug Caskey and felt a connection they hadn’t felt at other schools.
"He told us that with smaller class sizes there would be a lot of hands-on opportunities, which we both liked," Sarah said.
Despite a bit of culture shock (Angie admitted to being a little skeptical the first time she saw an Amish buggy) the family environment at GC was a strong selling point, despite being more than three hours away from home.
"At one time we looked at each other and said ‘I am going whether you are or not’," Angie said.
The sisters lived down the hall but didn’t room together, but having each other so close helped alleviate some of the homesickness that can come from going to school in another state. And having the same majors (Sarah also majored in English) was a great benefit throughout their college careers.
"It used to feel like a competition until we realized that we are both going to be graduating at the same time," Sarah said.
After both receiving their degrees Sunday at commencement, they are both continuing schooling. Angie will be returning to Goshen this summer to direct a play titled "Heavenly Voices" as part of a dissertation with GC professor of Communication Pat McFarlane. She said she will also eventually pursue her master’s of fine arts degree in either acting or directing.
Sarah meanwhile will be heading to Belmont University in the fall to start up an alternate teaching program where she will be teaching English/Language Arts. And owes many thanks to that little purple pen back in high school.
"Since finding Goshen I have no regrets coming here," Sarah said.