Julia Goeks ’21 continues a legacy at Ripon College

Julia Goeks, a senior from Lake Forest, Illinois, is the fourth-generation member of her family to attend Ripon College. “I take that as a sign of how special the community is that it has been part of our family history for so long,” she says.

Goeks is pursuing majors in chemistry and physics and a minor in mathematics. She is the president of the Society of Physics Students, treasurer of the chemistry club, a member of the Queer Straight Alliance, and a flute player in Symphonic Wind Ensemble.

Geoks’ great-grandfather, Roland Wernecke, class of 1925, majored in economics and philosophy.

Her grandparents, Mary Wernecke Goeks and Robert Goeks met at Ripon and graduated together in 1951. Mary majored in psychology, and Robert majored in economics.

Her father, Todd Goeks ’81, had a self-designed major in geology-ecology and a second major in biology.

“For me, being a legacy student is something I’m proud of, although not the main reason I chose Ripon,” Goeks says. “I came to Ripon because I had the chance to meet some of the professors, and between the community and the professors’ willingness to challenge us as students I was excited to come. That being said, being part of the legacy makes me feel connected with a unique part of our family history.”

She adds that being a legacy has made her stand out to some professors and faculty who know of her family’s Ripon College history. She was able to meet a member of the faculty she might otherwise never have gotten to know – Professor Emeritus of Biology Bob Wallace.

“During his first year of teaching at Ripon, he taught my father,” Goeks says. “Then when we came to visit, my father was super-excited to introduce me to Dr. Bob, who he mentioned shares my love of new vocabulary words.

“Although I spend a fair amount of time in Farr Hall, not much of it is on the biology floor, so I’m glad our paths crossed. Now we trade vocabulary words when we see one another, or sometimes over email. He’s currently helping advise my research project for my physics senior thesis – I’m going to be looking at the strength of cage-like structures in rotifers, which should come as no surprise to those familiar with Professor Wallace’s fascination with his favorite ‘little beasties.’”

Although her experiences have differed from those of her grandparents and her father, Goeks has certainly created her own path and is leaving a legacy of her own at Ripon. “Although I’m not in psychology like my grandmother or on the swim team like my father, I can say with certainty that my four years here have been an incredible experience in so many ways.

“I think it would be fun to continue the tradition of having a Goeks at Ripon, so if successive generations decide to come here I will get to share the same connection with them as I have with my father and grandmother.”

Beatriz Pedroza ’21
Avalon, California


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