Brody Van Roekel ’16
Executive director, Atlas: Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska
Brody Van Roekel

Community-minded

After graduating from Northwestern with a degree in history, Brody earned a master’s degree in medieval history from Western Michigan University. Taking what he’d learned about the impact of listening to peoples’ stories, he pursued a career focused on community development. He serves as the executive director at Atlas: Lincoln, an organization that serves people through Christian peer support.


Tell us a bit about your job with Atlas: Lincoln.

I’m the only paid staff member at Atlas: Lincoln, which is a fairly new organization. I take care of administration, fundraising, working with clients, and building the organization’s visibility and reach within the Lincoln community. I’m working to lead Atlas into a sustainable and fruitful future.

How did Northwestern prepare you for your job?

The example so many people at Northwestern set for authenticity and transparency serves me incredibly well in this position. I worked with Northwestern’s residence life staff for three years, which gave me a great care for people and a desire to see them achieve the fullness of life Christ has for them.

How did studying history aid in your work?

It helped me appreciate the value and importance of story. I’ve had an implicit appreciation of story for a long time, and the history department at Northwestern highlighted story in everything we studied. Story has power because everyone has it and everyone can connect with it. I believe it’s a great link and equalizer between and among people. In my role at Atlas, “What’s your story?” is such an effective tool in communicating with people.

What do you most appreciate about Northwestern history professors?

It’s probably a well-worn axiom for Northwestern profs, but the one-on-one interactions they regularly encourage really stand out. It’s one thing to have professors in class; it’s an entirely different thing to meet with them in less formal settings to discuss everything from ideas to life events. They absolutely cared about my performance as a student, as most profs would. But more importantly, they cared about me as a person. They wanted to know who I was and what I cared about. Even now, I feel entirely comfortable reaching out to them to reconnect and catch up on life.

How was your faith impacted during your time at Northwestern?

I was so blessed by the environment Northwestern provided to explore my faith. I came to Northwestern feeling that my faith was my own, but I left feeling confidence in navigating the world from the perspective of a Christ follower.

Do you have a favorite NWC memory?

The greatest experience I had at Northwestern was working within residence life. There were some not so great parts, but overall, working as resident assistant and assistant resident director is something I will never forget. The opportunity to get to know a small group of guys in profoundly deep and lasting ways helped me become the person I am today. Whether it was RA training every fall, waking up on the first day of Christmas break for cinnamon rolls in our resident director’s apartment, or living in Colenbrander Hall for four years, I wouldn’t trade a minute of it for anything.

 


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