Sometime in 1993, in pursuit of a good mark in Reformation History, I went to my professor’s office to discuss an essay topic. Hoping to appear studious, I took copious notes during the meeting—until Professor Werner Packull told me to stop, in words I’ll never forget:
“Put your pen down,” he said. “I’m not here to give you the answers; I’m trying to broaden your mind.”
Because Grebel’s mission and programs are rooted in and inspired by its Anabaptist/Mennonite heritage, the College puts a significant emphasis on teaching Mennonite studies and History. While Mennonite Studies wasn’t an official program from the outset, Grebel’s founders wanted to ensure that Mennonite students pursuing post-secondary education at a secular university still had some grounding in Mennonite education.
Over the past 60 years, thousands of Grebel alumni have taken individual Grebel courses in History and Mennonite Studies, while hundreds of Grebel alumni have received University of Waterloo Arts degrees with majors and minors in History, along with some who have pursued specializations and minors in Mennonite Studies. The following profiles highlight a few of these alumni—some who went into history professions and some who used history as a jumping point for their career. We asked alumni to reflect on these questions: Where has your background in History or Mennonite Studies taken you? How did your studies prepare you for your profession, hobby, research, or volunteer role? How has your education or profession enriched your life, taken your life in an unexpected direction, or led to an accomplishment you’re proud of? How did Grebel inspire this path?