Students meet with Hesston presidential candidate-of-choice, Dr. Joseph Manickam

By Alicen Meysing – Horizon News Editor

On Nov. 7 and 8, Dr. Joe Manickam, Hesston College presidential candidate-of-choice and his wife Wanda visited campus, meeting with staff, faculty and students in a number of settings. While here Dr. Manickam first introduced himself by delivering a powerful speech during chapel. He also had a chance to discuss his background, experiences, and plans for Hesston College at a meet-and-greet with students on the night of Nov.7.

It’s been over 11 years since a new, permanent president has addressed the student population during chapel and on Nov. 7  the sanctuary was abuzz with the murmurs of students, as many waited to hear what Manickam had to say. He didn’t disappoint, as he delivered a speech that was filled with memories  and emotion. Manickam talked about gracious heroes in his life and how they had impacted him.

Joe Manickam shares his story in chapel. Photo by Larry Bartel, HC Marketing and Communications

The first was his mother.  

“My mother’s whole life for me was this example of what it means to be a quiet witness in a very loud way,” Dr.Manickam said, as he described how his mother’s actions influenced his character.

When Manickam was young, his missionary father was in a fender-bender with a taxi driver. Although it was the taxi driver’s fault, his father paid for the repairs for both vehicles.  The driver, his dad said, wouldn’t be able to afford the repairs or support himself without the help.

“Even if the midst of his own poverty, my dad taught me to be gracious,”

When Manickam talked about his last hero, his friend Steve Hershberger, he had to fight back tears. Hershberger, a teacher at Fairfield High School in Goshen, Indiana died in 2008 when he tried to rescue one of his students who had been pulled into a riptide while swimming off the shore of Costa Rica.

That selflessness, Manickam said, was typical of Steve.

“Steve always went out of his way to make connections with people who needed a friend,” Manickam said, remembering how Steve helped him adjust at Hesston College.

Manickam not only gave insight into the people he deemed his heroes, but he taught the audience a very important life lesson:

“Seek out heroes who are truly worthy of your praise and be a true hero to those around you.”

After a busy day exploring the campus, Dr. Manickam and his wife got a chance to sit and talk with 30 students during a dinner Q&A. Dr. Manickam discussed fond memories of his time as a student at Hesston and what he looked forward to as the new president.

Wanda and Joe Manickam talk with Mark Landes, VP of Finance and Auxiliary Services. Photo by Larry Bartel, HC Marketing and Communications.

“I feel very humbled and excited, my two years at Hesston were the most transformative years of my life and I can’t wait to make connections with new people,” he stated.

Dr. Manickam isn’t the only one who’s excited, many of the students who got the chance to meet him were thrilled to see him as the new president.

“I honestly just thought he seemed like an awesome guy,” said freshman Taylor Martin. “I loved the way he talked about his plans for Hesston College, and I can’t wait to see what he’ll bring to our campus next year.”  


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