Leeving: Bethany Diffenderfer
"Leeving" is a series that highlights graduating seniors and their time and accomplishments at Lee, detailing the experiences had, knowledge they've gained, or the people they've met.
It has been said that “not all good things come easy.”
For graduating senior Bethany Diffenderfer, the above quote is especially true.
“I was drug here by my mother. I didn’t want to go to Lee at all,” said Diffenderfer. “Sometimes your parents know so much more than you, though, and it took me a while to admit that she was right.”
A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Diffenderfer originally had different collegiate aspirations than the rest of her family, five of her siblings already having come to Lee.
After she was finally convinced by her mother to give the university a chance and attend Lee Day, Diffenderfer’s interest in the university was piqued by being “super nerdy” and visiting a Kairos information session. Regardless of what she thought about her social status, Diffenderfer “immediately found a family in Kairos.”
Kairos, however, is not the only group of people that presented a strong family dynamic to Diffenderfer. As her college career progressed, Diffenderfer began to develop close relationships with some of Lee’s brightest faculty members such as Dr. Matthew Melton.
“Dr. Melton is one of the main reasons I came to Lee. He’s kind of been a surrogate dad for me at points,” said Diffenderfer. “Just knowing that I can go to his office for any sort of advice is such a great relationship to have with the dean of your department.”
Along with Dr. Melton, Dr. Phil Cook and Dr. Sherry Kasper have helped Diffenderfer maneuver through a whirlwind of difficult questions and situations that she has been faced with throughout the past four years.
“It was fall of 2015 that I found out my parents were getting divorced and my church was falling apart,” said Diffenderfer. “That shook up my entire world.”
Because of the encouragement and love shown by her Lee community, Diffenderfer has learned how to better love her family despite the emotional and spiritual turmoil that they have gone through.
“I grew up a Messianic Jew. We just didn’t talk about grace and faith,” said Diffenderfer. “Lee was super helpful in helping me realize that grace and forgiveness exist and that’s what God is all about. That has been something that has changed my whole world.”
Because of this newly added element to her faith, Diffenderfer has been able to work toward putting her family struggles behind her and has honed in on closing out her senior year strong. A health science major with a pre-PA (pediatrician’s assistant) emphasis, she is graduating this May with honors.
As for post-collegiate plans, though, Diffenderfer has her sights set on a different career path than originally anticipated.
Diffenderfer will be working as a Recruitment Consultant for Frank Recruitment Group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this summer.
“I was pretty sure I wanted to be a pediatrician’s assistant, but I had a senior moment where I rethought everything,” said Diffenderfer. “I found the job on an online board, interviewed for it, and have fallen in love with the thought of being in recruitment.”
While she does see working in Pediatrics as a part of her future, Diffenderfer is excited to begin her job in recruitment in the summer, and for now, “Pant suits are the dream.”
Because of Lee, Diffenderfer has said that she has grown in ways that she never thought she could, learned to not be ashamed of her story and said she understands that there is a lot more to learn from the rest of life’s experiences.
“The most remarkable thing we have is our story and the ability to share that with other people,” said Diffenderfer.