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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: Sen. Danforth, Westminster graduate meet again after 20 years

By Cheri Ghan/Missourian Reader
May 7, 2012 | 12:07 p.m. CDT

Cheri Ghan is Chris Ghan's mother.

In October, 1992, our son had the opportunity of a lifetime. In fact, Christopher Ghan not only got to meet Missouri U.S. Senator Jack Danforth, he sat on his lap, played and posed for photos. Twenty years later, on Saturday, May 5, 2012, Chris Ghan graduated from Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. His commencement speaker was former U.S. Senator Jack Danforth. And, thanks to Westminster President Barney Forsythe, the two met again for another photo op.

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The first photo was taken after an interview Danforth had done at the Missouri School Boards’ Association. He was the honorary chair of the Missouri Mock Election that MSBA co-sponsored. My husband, Brent Ghan, was, and is, MSBA’s chief communications officer, and the interviewer. Brent and I both knew the senator from our days covering him as news reporters, so I didn’t feel shy about taking our son over to meet him. Since he was meeting Missouri’s senator, I thought Chris should be wearing Missouri colors, so I dressed him in black and gold and headed over to the MSBA office.

The senator was incredibly gracious with my request and not only let me shoot away, he played with Christopher for about 10 minutes while the video continued to roll. Unfortunately, I no longer have a VHS player, but I will always keep that tape and hope to convert it to DVD some day.

When I heard Senator Danforth, whom we continue to admire, would be the Westminster commencement speaker, I sent a letter to President Forsythe and shared the photo and the story. I hoped there might be a way for Chris to again meet the senator. Little did I know that President Forsythe not only shared the story with his cabinet at Westminster, he made arrangements for Chris to have his own private photo opportunity with Senator Danforth.

“Chris, I don’t think you can sit on my lap anymore,” the Senator laughed as he looked at the now 6’4” Chris.

The two recalled that day the first photo was taken 20 years ago and discussed Chris’s plans after graduating from Westminster with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies, Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in classics. Chris and Senator Danforth have more in common than it might seem. Danforth holds a degree from the Yale Divinity School, and Chris, who begins graduate studies in the University of Missouri Department of Religion in the fall of 2012, plans a career as a professor of religious studies.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.