Alistair Robertson named Tabor College Commencement speaker

Alistair Robertson (g’84) had no idea how much weight a magazine advertisement could carry.

Alistair Robertson
Alistair Robertson (g’84)

A pre-med major at Cal State University-Northridge, Robertson was pursuing a degree in the medical field thanks to his mother’s influence as a nurse. At the same time, he was walking alongside his best friend that was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Feeling moved to be a source of hope and light in his life, Robertson felt God put a call on his heart to study psychology or social work and help those with mental illness or other needs.

On a later afternoon, Robertson was reading a copy of Campus Life, a Christian magazine for high school students. It’s where he found a full-page advertisement that read, “Tabor College, Liberal Arts Christian College, highly accredited for Social Work.”

He had not heard of a Mennonite Brethren church, but his pastor affirmed his decision to move to Kansas.

“I felt it was God’s way of revealing and affirming that I was to study social work at Tabor College,” Robertson said. “… My pastor told me that I’d meet wonderful, God-honoring people and that I would be in good hands.”

Nearly 40 years after graduating from Tabor, Robertson will return to campus to deliver the keynote address at the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies.

Robertson found a home in Hillsboro and also met his wife, Sevia (Holmskog, g’82). Her parents, Norman and Beverly, coached and taught at Tabor College. Beverly taught English for 19 years, while Norman coached men’s basketball and taught for eight years.

After finishing his bachelor’s degree, Robertson had brief stints at Prairie View Inc. in Newton, Kan., and Menninger-Children’s Hospital in Topeka, Kan. That led him to his master’s degree, studying social work at the University of Kansas in the early 1990s.

He and his wife remained in Kansas until 2002, deciding to move to California and join the Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera, Calif. He has been at the hospital since 2002.

A heart for service has also been a mainstay in his family’s life.

From 1991-92, Robertson and his wife served as missionaries at Children’s Haven International in Reynosa, Mexico. Short-term missions work has also taken him to Kenya, leading training for social work and healthcare workers.

Alongside his current role at the hospital, Robertson serves as an adjunct professor of social work at Fresno Pacific University.

Tabor also stretches to their children. They have two adult sons, Malachi and Josiah (g’17).

His journey of finding Tabor College and shaping God’s calling on his life has taken him across the globe. However, it provided the framework of his Commencement address, “It’s Not Weird, It’s God’s Grace.”

 “Tabor has such a deep, personal connection with its students, but first and foremost with God’s kingdom,” Robertson said. “For me, I’m excited to be at a place where my faith journey took root. I’m so grateful and indebted for the invitation to speak.”

Secondly, it was he and his wife’s relationship with the President and First Lady.

“My wife and I have so much appreciation and respect for David and Karen Janzen,” Robertson said. “They are lifelong friends, and it stretches back a generation too with my in-laws and their parents as well. It’s truly a family thing.”