A family tradition
Tal BA ’96 and Jenny (Hatchel) BA ’93 Kirkwood are young alumni with a long history connected to Anderson University. They both grew up in homes where the name “AU” sparked a certain pride and nostalgia among the many family members who had attended.
“Almost everyone in our families has gone to Anderson,” Jenny says. “For my family, it has become kind of a tradition.”
Coming from a Church of God background, both Jenny’s parents and several members of her extended family are alumni. Their AU pride runs so deep that Jenny can even recall her mother singing her to sleep with the Raven fight song.
Their strong family ties to the university made selecting a college easy for Tal and Jenny, who both already felt at home on the AU campus. “It always just seemed like a perfect fit to me,” Jenny says.
It was an easy transition for Jenny, who was welcomed by the university’s friendly atmosphere. Particularly, the fellowship and close relationships she developed as a charter member of the Xenos social club made her AU experience special.
“I have to say that my fondest memories were always with my friends,” she says. “I was surrounded by people who had similar backgrounds and were brought up a lot like I was. It made for some incredible bonds.”
Two years younger than Jenny, Tal pursued his own friendships and interests while at AU. He was president of the Sachem social club and a lineman for the Raven football team that won the ICAC conference.
Though they were both marketing majors and had many friends in common, Tal and Jenny didn’t meet and start dating until after Jenny had already graduated. A short while later, he received his marketing degree from AU, and they began their lives together while also working to launch their careers.
Today, the Kirkwoods live in Fishers with their three children — 6-year-old twins Jack and Maggie, and a 3-year-old son, Charlie. Jenny stays at home with them full time, opting to quit her job at Schering Plough Pharmaceuticals in favor of full-time parenting. Tal is a pharmaceutical representative for Alcon Labs, where he was recently promoted as the company’s district manager for Indianapolis.
Though they are a single-income family and extremely busy parents, Tal and Jenny remain loyal to the AU tradition they’ve come to cherish and do what they can to keep the tradition alive. They contributed to the university’s legacy locker project, a fundraiser to put new wooden lockers in the athletic locker room as a way of honoring alumni athletes and improving facilities for current students. They also give to the university through the Church at the Crossing, their home church.
“If our donations give to someone as great of an experience as we had, then that makes it worth it,” Jenny says. “Anderson is a great university and it holds such a special place in our hearts.”
It’s their way of honoring the university and the Church of God, both of which have been integral to their lives. It’s also their way of passing the AU tradition on to their children. “I think it teaches our kids to give back and to support institutions that share the same values in life,” Jenny says.
— Jon Nelson, Excerpt from 2006 Donor Report