David Berry performs on piano with the EMU Chamber Singers during the Homecoming Worship Service on Sunday.

Alumni award winners present at Homecoming Worship Service

The denouement of the weekend arrived Sunday morning with the Homecoming Worship Service held at Lehman Auditorium. The Chamber Singers led congregants in song, and the recipients of this year’s alumni awards addressed the crowd.

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Andy Dula ’91, recognized as Alum of the Year, cited Paul the Apostle and his father’s “Keep hope alive” mantra as influences on the way he runs his business as president of the EGStoltzfus construction company.

“Empathy, people before profits, culture building and fun are hallmarks of my business experience of almost 32 years,” he said. “And at this later stage of my career in the organization that I lead, the opportunity to remain diligent about building a business philosophy based on grace, humility and service and to treat one another more gently and more wisely is hopeful and, incidentally, it’s about as fun as it gets.”

Basil Marin ’10, recipient of the Outstanding Young Alum of the Year distinction, dedicated the award to his late father and posed the question “What are you doing to make a difference?” while reflecting on those who have made a difference in his life.

“When looking at a tombstone, there’s only one important piece: the dash in the middle is all that matters,” said Marin, who works with Equity and Community Engagement for Harrisonburg City Public Schools. “What was the dash you left while your time was here? How did you impact others to continue to be better people? … You’ll never see a U-Haul truck behind a hearse. You come into this world with nothing, and you leave with nothing. So I urge you as a people, as a community at EMU, that we give our best each and every day and make sure others have what they need. Our legacy, our dash, will have meant something.”

Paul and Lisa Zendt Shelly ’89, awarded the Distinguished Service honor, also spoke on the topic of making a difference, in the public schools and community organizations of Meridian, Mississippi.

Paul Shelly said that as he looked back on his time spent as a teacher, coach, administrator and tech entrepreneur, he couldn’t help but feel his impact had been negligible.

“By worldly metrics, my impact on Mississippi has been minimal, but the transformation that has happened in my life has been immeasurable and I like to think that those along the way I’ve connected with have been similarly transformed,” he said.

His wife, Lisa, talked about how one day early in her teaching career, an eight-year-old girl spoke truth that transformed her.

“She said, ‘Mrs. Shelly, you just don’t understand.’ She was right, I didn’t understand what life was like for her,” Lisa Zendt Shelly said. “Literally, she had to overcome more challenges in her short life than I had in my couple decades. I had much to learn about resilience from her. She taught me it’s not so much about making a difference, but making a connection with another, learning from each other and then we’re both the better for it.”

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