There’s No Place Like Home

There’s No Place Like Home

Michelle Bergmann

Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) kicked off their annual Homecoming Weekend with a banquet for honored alumni on Thursday evening, March 31, 2022. SWAU faculty and staff welcomed alumni family and friends at the City of Keene Community Center. Introducing this year’s theme, “There’s No Place Like Home,” attendees enjoyed a homestyle meal on lace tablecloths amid antiques borrowed from the Hopps Museum, a welcome center on campus housing historical items dating back from SWAU’s early years. 

After dinner Mr. Todd Goodman (’92), CFO for the Central Florida Division of AdventHealth, and his wife, Mrs. Melinda Goodman (’89 and  ’92), a nurse and founder of her own business, Nurse Medical, received recognition as Alumnus and Alumna of the Year for their faithful Christian service. “We are so proud of our alumni and specifically what they do in service for others,” announced Ana Patterson (’99 and ’12), President of SWAU. Find a full list of this year’s honored alumni at

SWAU’s 24th Annual Homecoming Golf Classic took place on Friday, April 1, 2022, at The Retreat just outside Cleburne, Texas. Special thanks goes to each of this year’s sponsors, with proceeds benefiting the University’s First-in-Family Scholarship Fund for first-generation college students. Representing this year’s Tournament Sponsor, Texas Health Huguley, was Russ Weaver, Vice President of Mission, Community, and Advocacy. He emphasized, “At Texas Health Huguley, we are committed to education, particularly to seeing what we can do to encourage those who may not have the typical opportunities to pursue an education to get those opportunities. That’s why this particular fundraising event and this particular scholarship at the University are so important to us.” 

On Friday afternoon alumni could visit SWAU’s on-campus Dinosaur Science Museum, a treasure trove of thousands of dinosaur bones, and also the Thomsen Observatory, which houses a state-of-the-art telescope for premium galaxy viewing day or night. Both the Dinosaur Science Museum and the Thomsen Observatory are also regularly open to the public.

On Friday evening at the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church SWAU students, faculty, alumni,  and friends came together to hear “truly inspired compositions,” according to Jonathan Wall, director of the University Singers. Several pieces were performed by the University Singers, the Southwestern Chamber Orchestra, Professor Emeritus John Boyd, and alumni as they joined the University Singers. The evening’s program closed with a selection called “Home,” as the University Singers and alumni sang together, “You who are weary, come home.”

On the morning of April 2, 2022, at the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church John (JJ) Mutchler (’96) led Sabbath School with his talk, “Are We There Yet?” Also featured were three emeritus professors who shared memories of how God intervened in their lives and careers through their years of ministry at SWAU. Then each of the three church services featured an alumni speaker. At the Daybreak Service Dr. David Ripley (’82) encouraged listeners to “follow the Lord through everything” as did Habakkuk. At the Elevate service Jazzmine Bankston (’12) advised students, “Don’t run away from the path God desires for you amid your spiritual whirlwinds.” She ended with the appeal: “When asked, ‘Where has your path taken you?’ I hope you are able to answer, ‘Heaven–home, a place I long to be,’ a place I long to be too,” she said. At the Summit Service Pastor Buffy Halvorsen (’02) used the story of the prodigal son to offer listeners a portrait of God’s grace. She assured the audience that regarding their salvation, “Everything you needed done for you has already been done. Trust this,” she challenged. “We are His, He is with us, and everything we need is already ours. This is what it’s like to be home.”

In the afternoon alumni attended the annual alumni community potluck. Afterward alumni posed for honor class photos. Then alumni were invited to stop by departmental open houses, 
the Hopps Museum to visit with emeritus professors, the Dinosaur Science Museum, and the Thomsen Observatory. In the evening the A’Men Quartet, of which three out of four members are SWAU alumni, gave a concert at the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church.

On Saturday night alumni honor classes met for class parties. Young alums were invited to SWAU’s first annual AlumKnight Tailgate party held at the Leiske-Pultar Gymnasium. At the event Nu Pham-Zabala (’18 and ’20) said, “I’m a very recent grad, and I love the fact that there’s something out here for me to be a part of. There’s great food, and I love that there are a lot of competitive activities, because that’s what we’re into!” 

On Sunday morning, April 3, 2022, SWAU’s Enactus Club sponsored a Cross-country Color Run at the Rex E. Callicott Student Park. Ninety-nine runners registered for the 5K event. Esteban Deku, a sophomore biochemistry major at SWAU, won the race with a time of 20 minutes and 12 seconds. Proceeds from the race will be donated to families in Ukraine through the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). Happening concurrently was The Duck Pond Classic Disc Golf Tournament run by Jarrett Morgan (’06 and ’21), a Keene ISD Administrator. “A lot of people that I haven’t seen in a long time were here, some people I went to school with, and some people from the community. To have all these people here on alumni weekend playing was a blast!” he reported. Alumni Homecoming Weekend 2022 events ended with a tied soccer game between students and alumni.

SWAU was happy to welcome back more than 500 alumni this year! Click here to view photos from Homecoming 2022.

Southwestern Adventist University has been offering Christ-centered education by inspiring knowledge, faith, and service in Keene, Texas, since 1893. U.S. News and World Report ranks the University No. 11 overall in its 2021 Regional Colleges West rankings and No. 2 for Social Mobility. Niche ranks SWAU as one of Texas’ safest colleges. SWAU offers a uniquely diverse and personal college experience. For information, call 800-433-2240 or visit

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