Tale of Two Roommates
Hogle Hall helps alumnae find common ground for a lifelong friendship
by Emily Wallis (’06)
Worlds collided for Roxanne Mennes (alum, non-grad) and Karla Joost Reed (’89) when they were paired together as roommates during their first year at Westminster. Karla remembers greeting Roxanne, a Los Angeles native, as she stepped off the plane in Salt Lake City wearing snakeskin jeans and black eyeliner. “I was in awe of her style,” recalls Karla. “She was so trendy, had so many clothes and so much hairspray—things that just hadn’t made their way to my small town in Nevada yet!”
By the end of their first year, Karla and Roxanne had grown close enough for Karla to bring on the big ’80s bangs and for them to share their clothes and styles, but their friendship was more than skin-deep. “We came from very different backgrounds,” explains Roxanne, “but we were both hard workers and ended up having a lot in common.”
Karla and Roxanne agree that living on campus in Hogle Hall was an essential part of finding an identity, creating a worthwhile college experience, and building lasting relationships. Because their room was directly across from the only phone on their floor, the women adopted a social administration role among their dorm-mates. The two often stopped by other rooms to drop off messages and frequently left their own door open to socialize, which extended their social network into a solid group that stuck together throughout their years at Westminster and beyond.
Both women navigated a full course load and work schedule each semester, but they still made time for fun. The women fondly remember the exhilaration of new, spontaneous adventures, including late-night runs to Dee’s (a Westminster rite of passage), driving around downtown, and even fostering a lost puppy that would later find a lifelong home with Roxanne.
Karla and Roxanne quickly connected over these lighthearted exploits and the shared experience of living together away from home, but their friendship has truly solidified as they’ve supported each other through life’s more serious ups and downs.
Each suffered the devastating loss of a parent while at Westminster: Karla was the first when she lost her father, and Roxanne’s mother passed away a year later. “We became even more like sisters,” says Roxanne. “Karla’s family really took me in and made sure I felt loved, especially around the holidays.”
Since their time in college, Karla and Roxanne have leaned on each other through marriages, divorces, and the adoption of Karla’s now four-year-old daughter, Ellie. The admiration in Karla’s voice is clear when she talks about Roxanne. “There’s a special energy around her,” Karla says. “People want to know her, and we’re lucky to have her in our lives.”
They continue to nurture their rock-solid bond despite vastly different career paths and homes in different states. Roxanne is an attorney and advocate in the Pacific Northwest, and Karla has scaled back her work as a teacher to spend more time at home with Ellie, back in Nevada. The two former roomies stay in touch through text messages and cross-country visits whenever possible. Their fun looks a little different now, but Karla and Roxanne still seek out adventure by hiking, exploring each other’s cities, and catching up. “We’re still on the same wavelength,” says Karla. “We always pick up where we left off.”
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster College’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.