Kathy Gribbin, Ph.D. (’76), is a  woman who has played many roles in life. You might say she’s worn a lot  of hats, some good and some she’d rather not wear. Recently her role at Bethel has changed. She now puts on the hat as Bethel’s first female vice president.

First Female Vice President

“I feel excited both for myself, and for female students who can do more than they think they can do or were raised to think they can do,” says Gribbin. “My challenge is for men to take women’s thoughts more seriously. We do look at situations differently. I  believe women think more about how decisions are going to affect the feelings of people. Women are more intuitive, more sensitive — and this is a positive thing.’’

In June, Gribbin was named vice president for life calling and student enrichment. In that role, she heads a new center which coordinates many student services including academic support and tutoring, career services, service learning, retention, leadership development, wellness programming and the freshman year experience. All these services are now under one roof, not only for efficiency, but also for better coordination to help students in their personal journey toward a life calling.

Experienced and Moving Forward

Gribbin brings to the center both her professional and personal experiences — including a relatively recent experience with a  serious health event. On Dec. 15, soon after learning she was at an advanced stage with ovarian cancer, she underwent a hysterectomy. Less than a year later, doctors say no cancer cells are evident, but Gribbin still keeps the same attitude that every day is important.

“You have to move forward,” she says. “We have to be positive and believe that God is faithful. And yet, we aren’t promised tomorrow. Nobody knows what the future holds. I want to live  each day to the fullest.”

A Little Help From Friends

Her healing process, including eight sessions of chemotherapy, called upon a multitude of lifelong friends for prayer and support. To keep them all updated, Gribbin maintains a blog affiliated with CaringBridge, a nonprofit organization that provides free websites for people dealing with health issues. In her blog, she talks about everything from her latest medical test results to handling the estate of her mother, who died just two weeks before Gribbin was  told she had ovarian cancer.

No one makes it alone in this world, and with that deep  personal knowing, she pursues her vision for the center. She sees  it as helping students to brainstorm about their future by taking inventory of personality, strengths and spiritual gifts, and seeing them develop career paths.

“I want it to be more than ‘here’s the results of your career  test,’ ” says Gribbin. “I want students to think bigger. We tend to think more traditionally about careers, but there’s a lot more out there now and women, too, can think more creatively about  creating new businesses, job sharing or working from home,  especially with the Internet now.’’

In Her Perspective

Gribbin knows all too well, that in life’s seasons, you might just have to put on a different hat. And when you do — keep your head up, be willing to change when the need arrives and thank God for each day you’re given the opportunity.