Q & A with Family Man, Joel Boehner

As a young boy, Joel Boehner first stepped onto Bethel’s campus with his grandpa. Decades later, he is now a Bethel graduate and faculty member who still strongly reflects the family values passed down by the generations before him.

As Writing Center Director and faculty advisor of the Crossings Literary Magazine, Boehner exercises his flexibility in many different roles on campus. However, on April 29, he stepped in to a temporary role during the traditional graduation ceremony that provided him with the opportunity to present his younger brother, Brent (’12) with his Visual Arts diploma.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Boehner about this monumental milestone, as well as another significant event that he and his family recently celebrated.

Q:  Where did you go to college, and what did you study?

A: I graduated from Bethel College in ’05 with a BA in History and from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) with an MLS in Library and Information Science in ’08.

Q:  What do you do in your spare time?

A: I spend the majority of my spare time with my family or my church. Other than that, I enjoy books, birds, and bikes.

Q:  What does your relationship look like with Brent?

A: [Brent] was a part of the Urban Ministry Experience program in Keller Park this past year — which is just a few minutes away from our house — so we spent time together serving at the church and in the neighborhood. Despite the seven-year age difference, we are closer now than ever.

Q:  What was it like to present Brent with his diploma?

A: It was a very special moment that I’m sure will only get more meaningful as time passes.

Q:  I heard that you recently celebrated another milestone with your family — can you tell me about it?

A: My wife, Anne, and I adopted our foster daughter of two years in April. We gave [Alyssa] the middle name of Deliverance so that she can readily know that she was delivered by God and that she can, like Moses, be a deliverer.

Q:  What did the process of adoption look like for you and your family?

A: We had a heart to adopt Alyssa long before the circumstances allowed for it. For Anne and I, as well as our families, this meant that the adoption process seemed to last a really, really long time. We had to be patient.

Q:  How has Alyssa changed you?

A: Simply put, because of Alyssa I sleep less and dance more. Also, having an African-American daughter has opened my eyes to the many double-standards and injustices facing that community.

Q:  How has she changed your family?

A: Anne and I say that we have three families: Boehners, Heplers, and Keller Park Church. [The adoption process] has been an exercise in humility and joy to see all of these families adopt Alyssa along with us.

Q:  What is your favorite thing about being a dad?

A: Hearing her jubilantly shout “Daddy Home!” when I come home from work.

Q:  What other things do you enjoy about your family?

A: I enjoy visiting with family who live on the Gulf Coast of Texas and try to make it up to Lake Michigan as often as I can during the summer. There’s something spiritually nourishing about waves and water. I [also] always have a competitive game of Words with Friends going with my dad.

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