Twin Military Dependents Find Bethel Feels Like Family

Chloe ’24 and Izzy Smith ’24 were used to meeting new people and making new friends after growing up as military dependents and moving often. But when they started at Bethel, they forged deeper, faith-based connections. And they’ve found support to utilize their military benefits.

By Jason Schoonover ’09, content specialist

March 02, 2021 | 9:30 a.m.

Izzy ’24 and Chloe Smith ’24

Izzy ’24 and Chloe Smith ’24 found support at Bethel as they transitioned from growing up in a military family to life in college.

When Chloe ’24 and Izzy Smith ’24 came to Bethel in fall 2020, Executive Director of Military and Veteran Services John Morris urged them to lean into their strong cultural and interpersonal skills. “You’ve got to use those now because Bethel’s a subculture and you’re going to have to develop new relationships,” Morris recalls telling the twins. After a childhood as military dependents, they were used to moving and making new friends. They’d been born in England and then lived in Idaho, South Dakota, and Germany as their father, Senior Master Sgt. Joshua D. Smith, moved often for his role as an aircraft maintenance mechanic in the U.S. Air Force.

But they faced challenges too. At Bethel, many other students didn’t grow up in military families and some had lived in the same house their entire childhoods—something new to the Smiths. Still, the twins are thriving at Bethel. Izzy plays on the women’s soccer team, which is playing this spring after COVID-19 caused delays to the fall season, and Chloe is part of a residence hall worship team and is applying to be a resident assistant. But most importantly to them, they’re forming deeper, faith-based relationships that were hard to forge growing up. 

“Being here at Bethel, you see God working in the people around you, and you see how He has impacted their lives. With that, you build stronger connections and you get to know people a lot deeper through that, which I’m incredibly grateful for.”

— Izzy Smith '24
Chloe agrees, adding that Bethel, “just feels more like a family.”

Morris, a retired colonel who also grew up as a military dependent, isn’t surprised by Chloe and Izzy’s success. “We get used to that at Bethel because we have some pretty extraordinary students,” Morris says. “But I think their accomplishments are very noteworthy for freshmen.” The Smiths represent a student population that Bethel is well qualified to serve: military dependents who attended Department of Defense (DOD) schools. Morris and the Office of Military and Veteran Services help military dependents utilize their military benefits, adapt to Bethel, and connect with other military-affiliated students. “Morris was so helpful,” Chloe says. “He explained every single thing to us, and he just has been so open and welcoming for us to go to him if we need something.” Along with his office, Morris notes Bethel is well equipped to serve students like Izzy and Chloe. In addition to military-affiliated students, Bethel has a long history of serving the children of missionaries and corporate leaders whose careers bring their families overseas. And Morris notes many professors have lived or worked overseas.
Chloe ’24 and Izzy Smith ’24

Chloe ’24 and Izzy Smith ’24 moved often growing up as their father, Senior Master Sgt. Joshua D. Smith, center, served in the U.S. Air Force. Also pictured are their mom, Kasey, and brother, Tyce.

For their college search, Izzy and Chloe wanted to attend a faith-based university, and their grandparents live in the Twin Cities near Bethel. The two visited in summer 2019 and fell in love with Bethel’s Arden Hills, Minnesota, campus. When they started using Bethel as the standard to judge other campuses they visited, they knew they had found their spot.

At Bethel, Chloe and Izzy found themselves living outside of a military environment for the first time. Along with the structured environment of the military, Chloe and Izzy relied heavily on their parents through challenges and moves. But when they arrived at Bethel, their parents were still in Germany with an eight-hour time difference. “Luckily I had a built-in buddy to help me through everything,” Izzy says, pointing to her twin. They grew up predominantly with other military kids, with whom they could bond quickly over shared experiences and a familiar routine—you ask about your parents’ rank, job, and what base you were at before, but deeper connections were challenging.

Though Chloe admitted it could be a bit scary leaving the military environment, she and Izzy soon found a new shared mission in Bethel’s faith-based community. “We’re all here serving God for a reason and that’s our main focus,” Chloe says. The two grew up in a Christian family, where their parents modeled how to continue growing their faith. Izzy adds that they often found it hard to be open about their faith growing up as they tried to respect others’ beliefs. But at Bethel, they can grow in a Christian environment where they’re not forced to attend things like Chapel, but they can participate as deeply as they want. Chloe has also enjoyed learning more about various Christian denominations and perspectives, and she enjoys being able to start class with devotions.

Chloe ’24 and Izzy Smith ’24

Chloe Smith ’24, left, is majoring social work at Bethel, while Izzy Smith ’24, right, is majoring in biokinetics.

Both women are pursuing their passions at Bethel. Chloe, who is majoring in social work, is following in her father’s footsteps. She is in her second semester as an Air Force ROTC cadet, as Bethel is part of Detachment 410 of the Airforce ROTC based at St. Thomas University in St. Paul. “I’m super excited to be able to serve,” she says, adding that she’s also excited to be able to connect with her dad that way too. Looking forward, Chloe is interested in one day becoming a special investigator in the Air Force. Izzy, a biokinetics major, is also looking to give back in her future career. She plans to take education courses to become a physical education teacher in a middle school or high school. Growing up in DOD schools, Izzy found it hard to connect with teachers, but she was able to connect with her PE teachers. “They really had a huge impact on my life and my career decisions,” she says.

And they’re starting their journeys with help. Chloe and Izzy are each using 12 months of full-time college credit through their father’s military benefits. The Smiths found support through Morris and the Office of Military and Veteran Services. “It’s just been super helpful to be out of the environment where we naturally know or have people to help us with that stuff to have Morris be someone that we can kind of lean on for that,” Izzy says.

Find the support you need at Bethel.

Bethel’s Office of Military and Veteran Services offers resources and support for currently-serving military members, veterans, and their families. Military benefits, grants, and scholarships make a Bethel degree a logical and accessible option for military members, veterans, and their families.

Learn more