13 Goshen Alumni Changing the World

Published Sept. 2015

 Good of Goshen • 13 Goshen Alumni Changing the World

Compared to many colleges in the Midwest, our hometown college may seem like a blip on the map. Of course, if you live in Goshen, you know the campus on South Main is home to a lot more talent and ambition than meets the eye.

Here’s how we break it down: Some schools put their energy and resources towards giant campuses or monstrous athletics programs; Goshen gives everything for its students. That way, when they graduate, they’re ready to make positive impact on whatever comes their way. From champions in medical research to world-class literary critics to international diplomats, we’re not exaggerating when we say that Goshen College graduates are changing the world for the better.

Whether they make Goshen home or move across the globe, here’s our list of 13 Goshen alumni who are making the world a better place.

If you’re anything like us, you’ll be astounded by what they’ve done.

  1. Errick McCollum

Errick McCollum (2010) is changing the way people play (and watch) basketball. Errick is a professional basketball player with the Chinese Basketball Association club Zhejiang Golden Bulls – and just signed with another pro-team in Turkey. In January of this year, he set the highest single game scoring record in Chinese Basketball history with 82 points. Errick graduated from Goshen College as the all-time leading scorer with 2,789 points in his career. He was named a first-team NAIA Division II All-American during his senior year.

Errick McCollum’s 82 Point Game in China
Hoops in Turkey

  1. J Sider

J Sider (2008) is changing the way musicians connect with their fans. Sider’s life-long passion for music led to his creation of BandPage, a website for artists to post content and connect with users. Now, the San Francisco-based company hosts more than 500,000 musicians – like Rihanna, 50 Cent, Arcade Fire, Beyonce, and more. The whole point? To allow all musicians to build relationships with the people who help them succeed. He’s landed himself on both Inc. Magazine and Billboard’s “30 Under 30” three years in a row.


  1. Nate Pletcher

Nate Pletcher (2000) is changing the way the the world sees. Nate, a Middlebury native who went to Northridge High School, now works as a hardware engineer at Google. Nate’s primary work is designing smart contact lenses for people suffering from diabetes. By making microscopic sensors, the lenses can measure glucose levels in tears. His research and designs could someday lead to a better way to manage the disease.

  1. Raj Biyani

Raj Biyani (1992) is changing the world of technology. Raj is the Managing Director for Microsoft IT India, Hyderabad, which is Microsoft’s largest IT operation outside of its headquarters. Over the course of his 15-year career at Microsoft, Raj has been awarded several U.S. patents and an EU patent, as well as authoring 10 papers for Bill Gates – plus, he helped connect Microsoft with director James Cameron for to develop the blockbuster film, Avatar.

  1. Ellah Wakatama Allfrey

Ellah Wakatama Allfrey (1988) is changing the way the world views literature. Allfrey is the former Deputy Editor of Granta, an international literary journal, and a leading literary editor and critic in London. In March 2011, she was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (which is effectually the female version of being “knighted”) for services in the publishing industry. This year, she is a judge for the prestigious Man Booker Prize.

  1. Philip Thomas

Philip Thomas (1987) is changing the way nations solve conflict. Since 2005, Philip has worked as a senior consultant for multiple United Nations agencies, including supporting the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and offering direct support to the president, prime minister, and top leadership of the newly elected government in Somalia. And when he’s back home in Goshen, he teaches courses at his alma mater.

  1. Kelly Lerner

Kelly Lerner (1985) is making architecture more efficient. She is passionate about designing net-zero energy homes through passive solar heating and cooling. She was named one of the top 10 eco-architects in the United States by Natural Home Magazine. In 2005, she was awarded the 2005 World Habitat Award at the United Nations World Habitat Day Celebration.


  1. Karen Zorn

Karen Zorn (1984) is changing the way world-class musicians learn. She has been the president of the prestigious Longy School of Music of Bard College since 2007. Zorn helped bring the music education program called El Sistema — sometimes called the “Peace Corps of music teaching” —  to the U.S., which now has more than 100 programs across the U.S., including one in Elkhart.

El Sistema
El Sistema in Elkhart


  1. Angie Miller Bastian

Angie Miller Bastian (1983) is changing the way the world snacks. Angie and her husband started their company, BOOMCHICKAPOP Popcorn in 2001 out of their garage in Minnesota. Now, the multimillion dollar company sells kettle corn internationally – and doing it all with heart. The company raises money for breast cancer research at the Mayo Clinic, works to improve sustainability education, and is GMO- and gluten-free.



  1. Doug Schwartzentruber

Doug Schwartzentruber (1978) is changing the face of cancer research. Formerly at the National Institute of Health and IU Health Goshen Center for Cancer Care, he is now the system medical director for Indiana University Health’s statewide cancer services. In 2010, he was named in TIME Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world for his cancer research.


  1. Ruby Payne

Ruby Payne (1972) is changing the way the world views poverty. She’s best known as an author for her book A Framework for Understanding Poverty, which has sold over a million copies. She has studied extensively the culture of poverty and its relation to education, and authored over a dozen books on the subject.

  1. Howard Zehr

Howard Zehr (1966) is creating better ways to solve conflict. He is known as the “The Father of Restorative Justice” and helped found the Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP), which is now used worldwide by individuals to governing bodies. Zehr has been active in restorative justice since the late 1970s, driven primarily by a desire to give voice to people who are often overlooked.

Read more about VORP


  1. Owen Gingerich

Owen Gingerich (1951) is changing the way the world understands the galaxy. Gingerich is a professor of astronomy and history of science emeritus at Harvard University. He is also a senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Not only is he a recognized authority on the theories of Kepler and Copernicus, he is, as a committed Christian, a leading voice on the intersection of science and faith.



Good of Goshen Editor • Liz Core
Photography provided

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