Two English majors meet, fall in love, and then both end up working at their alma mater’s rival school.
This is the story of Keith Fynaardt, a professor in the English Department, and his wife Tamara, Associate Director of Public Relations, are one of many of the couples who are both employed at Northwestern College.
Both Dordt grads and converts to NWC, they both received their 15-year award last spring, and, for them, working together at NWC just one building away from one another has a lot of perks. “We have lunch a lot, and I make her coffee every morning,” says Keith, not to mention being able to share rides when the weather gets bad.
With Tamara’s office in De Vries’ Cottage and Keith’s in Granburg, even their two boys, 11-year-old Kit and 9-year-old Gideon, end up hanging out on campus. Tamara says that managing childcare and two full-time jobs is a challenge, but the flexibility of working nearby helps. “We tag team and work around his classes,” she explains.
Tamara remembers when the couple lived in DeKalb, Illinois. She completed her masters and then worked full time as Keith worked on his Ph.D. Work days took away a lot of together time. “We kind of take this for granted now, but then, we kind of led our own lives during the day.” Keith agrees, “For a working couple, we see an awful lot of each other. It’s really nice for us.”
With work being such a major part of the couple’s lives, the Fynaardts say it’s nice to be a part of the same thing and not have to catch up on so many things once they get to spend time at home. They also say that since many faculty don’t have family in the area, the campus community truly becomes like an extended family, and it’s nice that they can be a part of that together.
The downside, however, is that since they work at the same place, it is easy “to talk shop at home” when sometimes it’s nicer to be able to leave work at work, says Keith.
However, like Tamara points out, “It helps a marriage when you both really like what you do. We both have jobs that we both really like and they happen to be in the same place.” Because reading and writing are so integral to their identities, at least when the work comes home, “it’s all stuff that we like anyway,” says Tamara.
Sometimes at home she has to remind him, “You can drop the professor voice now. I don’t need you to conduct a class with me,” Tamara says with a smile.
Whether it’s coffee in the mornings, lunch dates at noon, or simply sharing the fulfillment of working together at a place that values their values, for the Fynaardts, working at NWC has been a blessing. Like Keith said, “It really suits us.”