Married couples work together for added happiness

Married couples work together for added happiness

by Morgan Perkins

A small part of Simpson’s married faculty and staff have found working together at the college to be a good fit for their lifestyle.

One of the couples here on campus is often seen sharing lunches together. This couple is is Ken and Rita Birkenholtz. Ken Birkenholtz is the vice president of business and finance and Rita works just down the hall from him as the manager of development services in the college advancement office.

Their story dates back to high school days in Prairie City, Iowa, according to Ken Birkenholtz. “We’ve been married since June of 1970, shortly after Rita graduated from high school,” he said.

Their decision to work together came after years of working in different towns. “Rita originally worked at Des Moines, but she hated commuting,” Ken Birkenholtz said. He started working at Simpson in the fall of 1994, and it was suggested that Rita apply for a position here also. In 1995, Rita joined her husband at Simpson.

Ken Birkenholtz said it is wonderful to work with his wife. “We are very compatible and could work together everyday,” he said.

There are additional advantages to working with his wife. “We have a lot of the same contacts, events, and friends. We eat together at Pfeiffer typically, and we like it,” Ken Birkenholtz said.

A second couple on campus is the Nostralas, both of whom are professors. Jennifer Nostrala is associate professor of theater arts and chair of the division of fine arts. Justin Nostrala is an assistant professor of art.

Both Jennifer and Justin’s roots go back to Simpson. “We both graduated from Simpson,” Jennifer Nostrala said. “I graduated in ’85 and Justin in ’86.”

“We had some classes together, then I went to Texas and Chicago. He went to Minneapolis and New York,” she said.

While they had each other’s addresses, they didn’t meet up again until a reunion on Simpson’s campus in 1995. It was for a gallery show that Justin was in, according to Jennifer Nostrala.

Jennifer and Justin Nostrala are in their second year of working together. “He taught here as a one-year replacement, then went to Mt. Union and now he’s back,” Jennifer Nostrala said.

Jennifer Nostrala said that they get to see each other, but not all the time. “I’m interested in his art classes and vice versa,” she said.

One of the best things about being able to work with her husband is, “a shared community and a shared understanding of what our jobs require of us,” Jennifer Nostrala said.