Tanner Forde grew up hearing stories about Union College. The brother of Brooklynn Forde, son of Terry and Marijane Forde and grandson of Jim and Roxy Hoehn, Union College is the setting for many of the family’s fondest memories. “I didn’t even look at other colleges,” Forde said. “It’s a generational thing.”
He followed in his parents’ footsteps his first year, and was even a starter on the Warrior men’s basketball team like his father had been in the early ‘90s. However, loyalty to the family legacy only kept him in Nebraska one year. “My freshmen year, I wanted to leave Union for a lot of reasons,” Tanner said. “One of them was that I felt the Business Program’s big push was to prepare us to work in Adventist health care organizations. My whole family works in health care. I wasn’t interested in the family business.”
“But frankly,” Tanner continued, “my girlfriend at the time was at La Sierra, so my sophomore year, I followed her to California.” Then came COVID-19. Like most college students, Tanner spent the spring semester of 2020 at home studying online.
Back in Maryland, he was contacted by White Oak Medical Center, an Adventist hospital where he had previously interned. Desperately understaffed due to the pandemic, they asked him to help out on their security team. Little did he realize how much that job would change him.
“In the middle of the pandemic, we didn’t really know what was going on,” Tanner said. “The ICU was filled. The morgue was filled. It was bad. We couldn’t admit visitors. Their loved ones came in with COVID, but they weren’t allowed in the building. Between having those difficult conversations with families and taking bodies to the morgue, it was just terrible. But at the same time, there was beauty in serving.”
“Before, I’d planned to move to New York after graduation. I was interested in finding a career at an accounting firm or investment bank,” Tanner said. “That all changed with COVID. I saw why all of my family had gone into health care. Being in the midst of the pain the pandemic brought and being able to help in a small way, I was drawn to it. I really am passionate about it now. I see myself being in health care the rest of my life.”
With a new sense of calling, Tanner returned to Union. “La Sierra wasn’t going back to in-person classes my junior year,” he said. “I really value in-person education, so I headed back to Lincoln.”
He was much happier the second time around. “When I came back to Union, what really changed was me,” Tanner said. “I decided that if this is where I am, I’m going to enjoy it the best I can.”
Strengthened by his new perspective, he not only rejoined Union’s basketball team, he also played on the Warrior men’s golf team for two years. “I’m not good at golf,” he said. “It’s really just a social thing. When you’re with good friends on a nice day, golf can be a lot of fun.”
“Sports teach you how to operate in a team setting,” Tanner said. “I’m used to working in a team, whether as a leader or follower. Sports are a big reason I chose to study business. This year was especially fun because as captain of the basketball team, I got to see my leadership style in action.”
Tanner hopes new students can learn to embrace whatever situation they find themselves in faster than he did. “You’re going to be put in places and situations in college and in life that you’re not going to really enjoy,” he said. “So what if you’re not always having fun? If you’re not winning games? If your high school friends didn’t follow you to college? Or if you’re stuck with a professor who you’re not fond of? You can choose to make the most of it. You can choose to be a happier person.”
“I get so caught up in stressing over things I can’t control. College has taught me to prioritize and focus on the little things I can control and trust that if God has a plan for me, I can put the rest in His hands. That realization really helped me find peace, and it’s made life much easier.”
This summer, Tanner will follow his calling to Florida where he has a residency in AdventHealth’s leadership development program.