On their graduation day in May 1983, Eric and Lisa (Loeffler) Habegger would never have imagined their careers in education would take them to six different continents and more than 70 countries.
They would have not have guessed that their Bethel experience would open doors to living and working in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, as well as generate an open-mindedness to broader linguistic, religious and cultural experiences for themselves and their two children.
They probably wouldn’t have predicted that a Bethel education, with its strong emphasis on service to others, would directly impact more than 5,000 current and future South American leaders, as well as thousands of highly dis- advantaged children and their families each school year.
Yet upon reflection, these many years after receiving their Thresher diplomas, Eric and Lisa realize they’ve experienced firsthand how a Bethel education prepares graduates for a life of service to others, at home and around the world.
“Without question, Bethel provided us with the Men- nonite values and academic foundations that inspired us to believe in the power of each individual’s capacity to change the world,” Eric and Lisa wrote.
Lisa graduated from Bethel with a bachelor’s degree in social work. Later, she was certified in elementary educa- tion and earned a master’s degree in library science. She has worked with children of more than 50 nationalities in grades K-12 as an elementary school teacher and librarian.
Eric’s Bethel degree was in English and communication arts. He earned his master’s degree in school administra- tion and has an Ed.D. in educational leadership, policy and organizations from Vanderbilt University. He currently serves as superintendent at one of the largest international schools in Latin America, located in Bogotá, Colombia.
He also oversees the school’s charitable foundation, which offers a K-12 education to 650 underprivileged students and provides three meals a day and free medical and dental care to students, and parent education classes.
In addition, Eric serves on the board of an educational consortium that provides comprehensive school services for five public charter schools serving more than 6,500 disad- vantaged children and their families.
Beyond their commitment to international education, the Habeggers’ strong sense of social responsibility motivates them to give back to Bethel.
“We are annual donors to Bethel because of our belief in advancing the essential Bethel spirit of giving to others both locally and around the world,” they wrote. “We are truly grateful to the many Bethel donors who made it possible for us many years ago to receive a high-quality, service-oriented college education. We know that our financial gifts to Bethel will help provide these same opportunities for future gradu- ates to continue changing the world.”