It’s All in the Family: The Sipkas

It’s not unusual for a student to choose AU in part because their parents or grandparents attended here. What is more unusual is if the whole family chooses AU.

For the Sipka family, Dad Tim BA ’75, Mom Chris (Cohagen) BA ’76, Tim’s sister Joyce (Sipka) Winner BA ’77, her husband, Jimmy BA ’76, and all three Sipka sons each said yes to the AU experience. According to the parents, the sons chose AU on their own.

Brent Baker BA ’85, director of development at AU, said, “All of these folks are warm, engaging, and love AU. They’re all engaged in their communities and are involved in the transformation of others’ lives.”

Tim graduated with a degree in math. He has been a professor at Alma College in Michigan for 40 years.

Chris was a physical education, health, and recreation major. After teaching middle school P.E., she now serves in an outreach ministry, living out her faith in the context of sports leagues, exercise classes, neighborhood gatherings, and other community events.

The oldest son, Phil Sipka BA ’02, played football at AU. Dad Tim relates, “He would probably tell you he was at a chapel when Bart Campolo was here and gave this challenge, ‘Would you give up a year of your life working in the inner city?’ and he took that to heart.” Now, Phil owns and runs Kusanya Coffee in Englewood, Ill., one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the Chicago area.

Son number two, Steve Sipka BA ’07, graduated with a degree in Christian ministries. He runs Exodus House in Anderson, a residential treatment program for men recovering from addictions

Mark Sipka BA ’12, the youngest of the three sons, graduated with a degree in communication arts. He now lives in Los Angeles performing stand-up comedy and remains connected with many other former Ravens. Mark and other alumni debuted “Itinerary,” a short film, at AU this past Homecoming (see Alumni News on Signatures Page 21 for more on “Itinerary”).

Mark agrees with the same message his parents have shared about AU. He says, “Looking back, I am thankful for this school that says, ‘You can do this. You can really do what you want to do. It’s not just here. You can carry these values on. You can live these values beyond here.’ And when a teacher tells you that you can do something, that really sits with you.

“AU is this beautiful home that really wants to bring the best out of us. I mean, I have two parents who are doing exactly what they love and are passionate about, and that shows. I have brothers who are doing what they love, so I’m from a family that encourages that, and I’m from a school that encourages that as well.

“We’re all doing what we were made to do, and it’s very clear.”

[Photo: The Sipka family, from left on couch: Tim, Chris, Phil, Steve, Steve’s wife Elyse, and Mark standing.]

About the Writer: Tammy Tilley is a freelance writer for Signatures magazine through the Office of Marketing and Communication.

Anderson University is a private, liberal arts institution in Anderson, Indiana with a mission to educate students for lives of faith and service in the church and society. Anderson University is recognized among top colleges by U.S. News and World ReportColleges of Distinction, and The Princeton Review. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, the university now offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in businessmusic education, and theology.

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