Real Stories for Times Like These
As part of Regent’s Advancement and Alumni team, Hilary Guth helped to gather and publish a broad array of alumni stories in anticipation of the College’s 50th anniversary. Here she reflects on these stories of endurance, and why we need them more than ever.
Officially, the 50/50 Alumni Project ran from June 2019 to June 2020. Behind the scenes, though, it started much earlier, and its impact continues to be felt.
I’ve now spent well over two years working on the 50/50 project, and it still amazes me.
When I started looking for grads to profile for the project back in 2018, I had some doubts. Could I even find 50 alumni donors who would be willing to share their stories? And if I did, what kind of stories would they want to tell?
Ask fifty people to tell you about their lives since graduation, and one plausible outcome would be fifty résumé-ready highlight reels. Stories of high points and higher points, happiness and success—the kind of stories that feel like they should come with glossy photos for a magazine spread. Fifty shiny success stories that might look good superficially, but wouldn’t be true to the community I know and love.
Fortunately, Regent’s alumni community didn’t let me down.
The alumni who contributed to the 50/50 project are real people, and they let it show. Their stories include plenty of accomplishments and triumphs—plenty of reasons for each of us to be proud to belong to the Regent community—but they also include moments and seasons of lament. Our grads shared stories of personal disappointment and vocational confusion, of dreams unfulfilled and families broken, of illness and loneliness and grief.
I found these stories encouraging then, and I find them even more encouraging now. Not because I enjoy the suffering of others, but because these are ultimately stories of God’s people following God through treacherous terrain—and of God being faithful the whole way. They’re stories like ours.
In the midst of a pandemic, when it seems we have even less control over what happens in our world than usual, I think we need stories of endurance more than stories of conventional “success.” I’m deeply grateful for the Regent grads I met over the course of the 50/50 Alumni Project, especially for their willingness to share real stories—the stories that need to be told, not the ones that are easiest to tell.
As a history student at Regent and during my undergrad, I’ve long felt a special affection for Hebrews 11—that portrait gallery of faithful forebears, both named and anonymous, whose stories epitomize the highs and lows of life with God and teach us what it looks like to persevere. Maybe the 50/50 Alumni Project can serve as Regent’s own little portrait gallery, reminding us that we are part of a bigger community and a longer story than we often imagine. Reminding us that we find our truest identity not as heroes of our own stories, but as participants in God’s story.
And so, “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, […] let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Heb 12:1–2a).
To read all the grad stories collected for the 50/50 Alumni Project, visit rgnt.net/5050.