Putting their love of college students into action, Northwestern’s President Greg Christy and his wife Michelle invite seniors into their home.
A beloved tradition on campus, Greg (affectionately known as PGC) and Michelle started the senior lunch tradition in 2012. Every spring, they have anyone from the senior class over for a meal and fellowship before they graduate. These students come in shifts. There are usually seven to eight options for when to come for lunch, and only a maximum of 21 students can come at a time.
Since the event is during the spring semester, this year an evening meal has been added to the schedule to accommodate student teachers.
Jill Haarsma, executive administrative assistant to the president, summarizes what the senior lunches are like.
“Michelle opens with a brief devotional, students enjoy lunch and have the chance to ask questions and share something they love and will miss about NW and something they wish could change,” Haarsma said. “President Christy closes with a few words of encouragement, letting seniors know that we are here to help them land well after graduation.”
Both Greg and Michelle Christy say they really enjoy hosting this event, and that it is one of the highlights of each year.
“Both of us have the gift of hospitality, so I thought, what can we do to bless the students and bring some closure and celebration to them?” Michelle Christy said.
The couple hosts students at their house during freshmen orientation as well, so hundreds of first-year students come to the house at once. The Christys say they love doing that, but the size of the event does not allow for personal connection and conversation. Therefore, they love the idea of being there at the start of a students’ journey and at the end.
Admissions Counselor Lucas Heiberger graduated last May and says that he really enjoyed the event. He also loves the “full circle” feeling of the Christy’s hosting students freshmen year as well as senior year.
“[Christy] gets to ‘meet’ every student on their first couple of days on campus during freshman orientation as he welcomes them to the picnic, and then in their last couple of days, he gets to do the same on a little more personal level,” Heiberger said. “I know for me, it was a little nostalgic getting to do that, and it felt very full circle. Like it was a box that was checked off. Said goodbye to President Christy: Check.”
That is the purpose of the event; to bring closure and celebration to a four-year journey. Also “to thank them [students] for their involvement, hear what their journey has been like and what it is they have learned and to hear what their next step is,” Michelle Christy said.
Greg Christy said that one important task of the event is for him to hear about the students’ experiences at NW and then figure out what he can do to make it a better experience for the next generation of students.
Both him and Michelle Christy would love to see the event continue in the future. Details have already been set for this year’s senior lunches, and there is no end in sight for this tradition.
Admissions counselor Jordyn Oostra graduated with Heiberger, and they both highly recommend that students attend this event their senior year.
“We are all about community and relationships, and this is just one example of how these values are truly lived out,” Oostra said.