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Alumna Shares How TLU Community Creates Lasting Friendships

By Lauren Haug Lys ‘09

When we started as freshman in 2005 and 2006, there were many things we could expect from our time at Texas Lutheran. We could expect smaller class sizes that meant the opportunity to connect with our professors and classmates. We could expect engaging ways to be involved on campus and beyond, like Campus Ministry, the Center for Servant Leadership, band, choir, theatre and Dramatic Media, intramural sports and much more.

We could expect opportunities to have fun, such as Coffee House, late night study groups, and weekly games of ultimate frisbee on the library lawn. I imagine many of us expected to make good friends during our time there. But I’m not sure many of us expected that we would form a community of lifelong friendships that extended beyond our time at TLU. Friendships that turned into a lifelong chosen family.

This TLU community of ours continued after our graduations in 2009 and 2010, with annual New Year’s Eve gatherings in each other's homes. Back when it was easier to sleep on couches and floors and not wake up with major consequences the next day. It continued as we celebrated weddings and baby showers among our community or attended TLU events like Homecoming and Vespers.

It continued, even when all of us couldn’t be there, often because our jobs and continued education took us further apart in Texas or out of state. It continued, though with sadness, as we mourned the unexpected passing of one of our friends. It continued, even as our families grew and transitioned our yearly gathering to Lutherhill camp near La Grange. And this past July, some from our community were able to gather in the place it all started, the TLU campus.

It was a homecoming, a joy to be back at the place we called home for four (more or less!) years. Celebrating a new life soon entering our community, as two of our friends are expecting a baby boy (who may have arrived by the time you read this). A joy to have our own children, who now outnumber us, experience this foundational campus and deepen connections with each other. Referring to each other as “cousins” and us adults as “aunts” and “uncles.”

A joy to see how the campus that formed and shaped our community continues to grow and change to support the learning of its current students, but still remaining a place we can call home. During our time at TLU, our community formed a weekly evening worship that met on the steps of the Chapel of the Abiding Presence, called Worship on the Steps, or WOTS for short. Each week we sang “WOTS is the place where we go to have fun, and we go to have fun at WOTS.” It was a place to have fun, but also grow deeper in our faith and our connection to one another.

Amazing to think our community would not only gather annually all these years, but would now gather 13 years later on these same steps and find our connections deepened. That deepened connection, deepened faith, and sense of fun is what we’ve come to know of TLU, and what we’ve sustained all these years as a Bulldog family. We can’t wait to gather at Texas Lutheran again next year, a tradition we will keep into the future.

“TLU is the place where we go to have fun, and we go to have fun at TLU.”

Front row, left to right: Jacey Haug, Micah Haug, James Cain, Jonah Lys, Aldric Fimbel, Joseph Cain, Joel Ullrich, Camden Ehler, Talia Fimbel, Rebekah Cain, Lucas Lys, Lydia Ullrich, Camille Ehler. Back row, left to right: Kelli Roberts Haug (‘10), Tim Vinciguerra (‘10), Kelli Kurachi, Ben Ehler (‘09), Meredith Price Ehler (‘10), Jeremy Ullrich (‘09), Suzanna Ullrich, Amanda Schnelle Ullrich (‘09), Stephen Fimbel (‘12), Mary-Ellen Tolliver Fimbel (‘10), Lauren Haug Lys (‘09), Jonathan Lys (‘09), Jessica Matlack Cain (‘09), Wes Cain (‘09)