Geneva Core Values: Serve with Grace - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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The College
October 23, 2018

Geneva Core Values: Serve with Grace

by Dr. Richard Talbert, Associate Professor of Communication and Director of the Integrated Media Center.

“I remember walking across the Geneva campus for the first time in 1985 with (then department chair) Harry Farra. I remember thinking, ‘this is a good place.’” Dr. Elaine Hockenberger was hired to phase out the Speech Pathology program. All she had to do was teach the approximately 12 remaining students until they graduated.

That plan did not work out. A new dean decided the program should stay, and Dr. Hockenberger should stay, too. She would go on to steward Geneva’s Speech Pathology program (now Communication Disorders) for more than 30 years.

The program moved to multiple buildings before in Downie House on the northern edge of campus. The small house certainly did not have the look of a traditional academic building, but “Dr. H,” as she is affectionately called by students, turned it into a home for hundreds of speech pathology students.

“I so enjoyed being at Downie House and having such good relationships with not only my classmates, but with Dr. H and Mrs. Layton, as well,” notes Andrea Jensen ’15. “They set the framework for our educations and future career paths.”

“Dr. H is a woman of the Lord who taught me the importance of empathy and respect for my clients as they are children created by God,” adds Amy Spangenberg ’14. “During class, outside of class and during the graduate school application process, Dr. H rejoiced with and prayed for her students.”

“She only wanted to see us succeed in something that we were called to do,” says Arielle Kean ’12. “No matter the situation, she was able to provide encouragement, scripture and prayer. She went above and beyond her duties. Every student who entered her classroom was challenged, but most importantly, encouraged to look beyond their worldly doubts and follow the path Christ has beautifully created.”

“I have been blessed beyond measure during my tenure here,” says Dr. Hockenberger. “I was able to make the transition from a clinic room to a classroom. I was able to share my passion for working with individuals with communication disorders with my students. I was able to see the excitement in their eyes when they saw the fruits of their labors in the clinic room and the effect their work can have on someone’s life.”

Dr. Hockenberger’s tenure was so successful she even saw two of her students join her in the Communication Department. Rev. Dr. Rich Noble ’89 once sat in her classroom but now teaches as an adjunct in the department. “Elaine was a challenging professor. I’m not sure you want to see my grades from that class,” Rev. Noble jokes. “But in all seriousness, she became a great mentor and friend.”

Communication Department Chair Susan Layton ’88 was also a student under Dr. Hockenberger. “Elaine’s wisdom built the excellent Communication Disorders program, but her heart impacted all of her students,” Professor Layton says. “I thank God for the joy and laughter He has given me through Elaine. She has been a mentor, a confidante and a true friend. She will be missed in this department!”

Likewise, Dr. Hockenberger will miss Geneva. “It’s hard to imagine not unlocking the door at Downie House and preparing for class. I will miss the students walking in the front door and hearing their conversations about class or friends or weekend plans. I will miss being ‘Dr. H.’ I will miss sitting among an amazing group of colleagues for yet another faculty meeting. I will miss being a part of my Geneva family. I have such special memories of such special people. It has been such a privilege. Thank you Geneva College!”

She looks forward to spending her time with grandchildren, family, friends and church, traveling and playing pickle ball. “I look forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for me.”

In a fitting tribute, as Dr. H moves to the next chapter of her life, one of her former students will replace her. Kim Arata ’09 joined the Communication Department this fall. She says, “I don’t think anyone can ‘replace’ Dr. H. What I can do is carry on the values and passion for Christ and the field of speech-language pathology that she instilled in me during my time as student at Geneva. I can help uphold the integrity and heart of the Communication Disorders program by continuing to strive for academic excellence and faith integrated learning.”

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This post is part of a series highlighting Geneva College’s Core Values and the people in the Geneva community who bring them to life. It was originally published in the Spring 2018 edition of Geneva Magazine.