Alexandra Bookamer, Class of 2017
What is your occupation? I am a Sign Language Interpreter working as an independent contractor with several interpreting agencies to provide services to over 2,000 deaf individuals in the Pittsburgh area.
What was your educational path? I attended Bloomsburg University and graduated with a BS in American Sign Language Interpreting. This program, taught by deaf professors, involves learning sign language for 2 years and then focusing on interpreting for 2 years.
How did your BMS experience help to prepare you for life? Many of the teachers are so passionate about what they do. They are excited about coming to work and that inspired me to want to have a job that I love.
Because of the flexibility of scheduling alternate classes, I was able to take online sign language classes as a language substitute for Spanish class. I have many memories from my time at BMS and appreciate the unique experiences that were offered. Our Honors History class was invited to Mr. Farley's house and given the opportunity to shoot an 18th century rifle!
Grace Peachey, Class of 2016
What is your occupation? I am a Perinatal Sonographer at Conemaugh Health System in Johnstown, PA.
What was your educational path? I attended Mt. Aloysius College and earned my Bachelor’s degree in Ultrasonography.
What is your greatest memory of attending BMS? I really enjoyed participating in athletics – field hockey and basketball.
What is something you appreciate about your education at BMS? The writing tips and skills that I learned from Mrs. Quinn really helped me at the college level. I didn’t think I would need to write as much in the healthcare field, but it has been very helpful.
Larry Kauffman, Class of 2001
Can you describe your educational and career path following graduation from BMS? I took a year off after high school and went to Brazil on a YES team. Then I attended Messiah College and graduated in 2006 with Major in Communication and Minor in Business Administration. For several years after college, I worked at Renno's Lawn Service. In December 2008, I began working at The Stewardship Group, basically as a receptionist. In 2009, I earned my insurance license and in 2019, became the manager of the Property and Casualty Department. I was promoted to Vice President in 2016 and purchased the agency in December 2018.
What are some memorable experiences from your time as a student at BMS that helped to shape your career choices? I always enjoyed and did well at writing and presenting. Those skills have certainly helped me in my current career. BMS also provided me with the opportunity to be heavily involved in several things: basketball, school play, Yearbook editor, etc. that I may not have got the chance to do at another school. I don’t think I ever thought I’d end up being an insurance agent, but many of the experiences I had and the relationships I developed at BMS have certainly helped me in my business.
Were there any particular teachers, coaches or peer groups who had a significant impact on your life? How so? My class was Mrs. Glenna Young’s first class at BMS (6th grade). Her ability to teach and her patience and care for each of us will always be something I remember. Mr. Vincent Anastasi was the English teacher my senior year. He was only at BMS for one year but had a real impact on me academically (one of the reasons I did well with writing etc.) and also as a mentor when it came to life. Mr. Ryan Booz (choir and music) impacted me a lot as I developed and grew into my faith in my high school years. Alan Miller was always a great support and remains so. I was also impacted very positively by my basketball coaches: Neil Renno (Jr. High), Elwood Byler, Don Mathews, and Mike Hartzler.
As you reflect on how others invested in you at BMS, are there any other thoughts that come to mind? I’m grateful that my parents chose to send me to BMS and made the sacrifices necessary to do so. I’ve always been grateful about how many of the middle school and high school teachers were patient enough to stick with me through the years as I developed and matured. I had an ornery phase but that didn’t stop them from mentoring and caring for me as I grew up at BMS. It was really cool to develop relationships with teachers and staff through my time at BMS.
How did your experience at BMS help to prepare and equip you for life, service and leadership? BMS gave me opportunities to develop as a leader, where in a larger environment, I may have just been part of the crowd. At BMS, I was able to be involved in different areas of leadership (yearbook editor, basketball captain, worship leader, etc.). I have been leading worship corporately for many years and am currently worship director at my church part time. I got my first chance to do that at BMS. Attending BMS also gave me a perspective of service. I don’t think I would have had the desire to spend a year in missions prior to college had it not been for BMS making that a part of my worldview.
How do you feel that God has used your current occupation to impact the community around you? That’s the best part of my job, getting to interact with many people from many different backgrounds. Being an insurance agent is all about gaining trust and fostering relationships with our clients. I am not a “salesman”, but some of the tools I began to develop at BMS have allowed me to build relationships and continue a successful business so far. As the business continues to grow, right here in Belleville, I’m grateful for the opportunities that we will have to give back and to bless people’s lives locally. Our philosophy here is from Phil 2:3, treat others the way that we would want to be treated. God has been gracious to me in my life. I enjoy working in a job where I can look for opportunities to extend that grace and understanding to others.
Josiah Yoder, Class of 2016
What was your educational path? I graduated from high school and began working for an outfitter as a guide building my work experience and learning the trade. That prepared me for my work as a wildlife technician for the USDA under Nevada wildlife services.
How did your BMS experience help to prepare you for life? Going to BMS with its small class sizes and environment helped me with building personal relations and being able to hold conversations with people.
As you reflect on how others invested in you at BMS, are there any other thoughts or ideas that come to mind? I realize now that the schedules and deadlines set by staff is more relatable to real life, as it was preparation for work and the schedules and deadlines set by employers. I am thankful for the examples placed by the staff at BMS and the way they set examples for us.
Rich Peachey, Class of 1994
What is your occupation? In 2001, I began working in the microelectronic division of Lucent Technologies. For most of my professional career, I have been working as part of an engineering design team creating chips that primarily serve the mobile telecom networking market segment -- translation -- chips that help manage and control cell towers. Through various corporate spin-offs, mergers, and acquisitions, I now find myself working for Intel Corporation as a Pre-Silicon Validation Engineer.
What are some memorable experiences from your time as a student at BMS that helped to shape your career choices? I've always been fascinated by computers. I have fond memories of taking turns using the first Commodore 64 computers in elementary school, Apple II computers in Mrs. Heller's TIU trailer, and then Mac's in Jr. High and High School. Leon Miller helped me get introduced to basic computer programming with a self-paced study sometime during my high school career. It was only a brief introduction, but I was hooked!
Were there any particular teachers, coaches or peer groups who had a significant impact on your life? How so? There were several teachers who had a profound impact on my life. The earliest memory that stands out was in 1st grade when Miss Carolyn Kanagy (now Mrs. French) taught us a lesson on saying “thank you” by telling us she was going to be forming two lines and proceeding to give each of us a coin. After we each had a coin in our hand, we realized she moved us all into a single line. She then told us she had a second coin for all who said, 'thank you', and those students would have been sent to the other line. Sadly, nobody in our class said, 'thank you!' I also remember several occasions when Mr. Herb Zook gave good advice, either in chapel talks, or during class. I particularly remember him sharing about delayed gratification in chapel and recall him talking about 'good debt' and 'bad debt' during a math class. Mrs. Evelyn Suydam always expected us to work hard. For one of her classes, she allowed a handful of us to work independently of the rest of the class, so that we could cover more material on our own. What a great lesson in preparing me to face the world where teachers aren't there to explain everything for me!
As you reflect on how others invested in you at BMS, are there any other thoughts that come to mind? Looking back, I am amazed at how it wasn't just the faculty and staff that poured into the lives of me and my classmates, but it was a large community effort. I realize how countless hours were spent behind the scenes to make each school sale and each public super happen. Community members were so generous of their time to come cheer us on in sporting events, listen to us perform choral programs, and watch our dramatic performances. Family members, alumni, and community members believed in the work BMS was doing and invested their hard-earned finances to keep the school running. I'm very thankful for this! Even though I no longer live in the area, and don't know the vast majority of the current student body, it is important to me to always include BMS in my annual giving plan. I'm honored to be in a position where I can now plant seeds into the lives of current students, just as past generations planted seeds into my life while I was a student.
How did your experience at BMS help to prepare and equip you for life, service and leadership? BMS gave me the foundation needed for lifelong learning, in a nurturing, Christ centered environment. I was often given the opportunity to try new things, even if they were things I wasn't good at. I was challenged to explore and grow in areas that I excelled at. I was allowed to make mistakes and learned how to use those mistakes as learning experiences. Faculty and staff modeled what it means to do a job in a way that honors and glorifies Christ. I'm so thankful for the years of my life spent at BMS!
Rhonda (Harshbarger) Gibbons, Class of 1985
Describe your educational and career path following graduation from BMS I graduated from Hesston College in 1987 with a degree in business management. Harshbarger's Sub n Malt was opened in March of 1989. After 31 years of operation and a lot of changes, we now have two locations (McVeytown and Mifflintown) and have expanded into catering and manufacturing ice cream and ice cream cakes throughout Pa.
What are some memorable experiences from your time as a student at BMS that helped to shape your career choices? The most favorite memories at BMS for me were being in the touring choir. I enjoyed singing and playing the piano. I feel that Ray French's passion for music rubbed off on me and I carry that with me even today as my sisters and I enjoy singing together and sharing God's message through song.
Were there any particular teachers, coaches or peer groups who had a significant impact on your life? How so? I feel all teachers at BMS have a huge impact on your life. You are an individual to them, not a number. They give you encouragement and guidance to be all you can be through your school years. I really appreciated Ms. Lehman, my field hockey coach. I feel she had a huge impact on my life. She saw potential in me that I didn’t even see and encouraged me to be my absolute best. My husband Richie and I have a 13-year-old son, Dakota. We are grateful that he carries on the tradition and attends BMS.
How do you feel that God has used your current occupation to impact the community around you? The most rewarding thing about my business is God enables us to give back to the community in many different ways. I truly believe we make a difference. Our mission is to show God's love through our giving.