Hometown Hillsdale: Rachel Mohning Doty, ’97

Written by Stephanie Gordon

Rachel Mohning Doty, ’97, loves calling Hillsdale home because its generations past and present work together to create a strong community. Hailing from a hog and grain farm in northwest Iowa, Rachel is accustomed to the close-knit, small-town life. It’s a life she wouldn’t trade; she learned great things, met her husband, and raised her family here in Hillsdale. For Rachel, Hillsdale is home.

“I learned of Hillsdale College because my parents were faithful Rush Limbaugh listeners,” Rachel said. When it came time for Rachel to consider colleges, she and her family took a rare vacation to Michigan and visited Hillsdale’s campus. “I loved it. It’s the only college I applied to, and thankfully, I was accepted.”

Rachel was an undeclared major when she arrived, but two economics professors, Richard Ebeling and Gary Wolfram, were influential in her deciding to pursue a business major. Rachel minored in Spanish and said Dr. Kevin Teegarden of the Spanish Department taught her how to really think and get out of her comfort zone. “I developed character and professional aspects that my job now requires,” she added. As of today, Rachel has been in the banking business for 28 years.

During her junior year, she went to work part time for the former Old Kent Bank in Hillsdale, now Fifth Third Bank. She also met her husband, Thad, that year. “He was not a student,” Rachel said. “He grew up in Hillsdale, and he was working as a law enforcement officer at the time for the City of Hillsdale.”

After graduation, she married Thad and went to work full time for Old Kent Bank until 2014. During that time, Rachel and Thad raised two daughters, Taylor and Paige. Both daughters attended Hillsdale Academy. 

“We reconnected with other Hillsdale College families, which was wonderful,” commented Rachel on their Hillsdale Academy experience. “And through the school we met other strong local families, which we definitely appreciated.”

With the busyness of their daughters’ extra-curricular activities and sporting events, plus traveling for work, Rachel started a new job in 2014 as a business lender with Southern Michigan Bank and Trust (SMBT) in Hillsdale. “My home office is in Hillsdale, but I serve clients as far north as the Mackinac Bridge, and down into northern Ohio and Indiana,” she said. “Southern provided a work-life balance that allowed me to be there for my kids during that busy time of our lives—to be 10 minutes from work and school. It was a wonderful decision.”  

In addition to working for SMBT, Rachel is a devoted member of Hillsdale’s Rotary Club and the Hillsdale College Women Commissioners, and she sits on the advisory board for Hillsdale’s Salvation Army. “I love to see the support in our local community,” said Rachel. “You don’t get that in a bigger city.” Rachel said she also can’t ignore the beauty that exists here in Michigan. “In three hours, I can be laying on the beach, or in four hours I can be in the woods up north.” 

Rachel believes each of us has been intentionally created (Psalm 139) for a purpose. She challenges everyone, especially current Hillsdale College students, to lean into the hard work of determining God’s plan for their lives and live every day working toward a goal. 

“For me, this included taking risks; leaving home at a young age and experiencing selflessness and joy as a wife and mother,” she said. “My ability to develop meaningful relationships with numerous clients across all socio-economic backgrounds comes from an intentionally diverse past and present circle of friends and strong professional female mentors in my career. I never imagined the plans the Lord had for me.”

While Rachel plans to always call Hillsdale home, she is looking forward to her future with her husband. Even though they stay busy with their careers (Thad is now a lieutenant with the Hillsdale City Police Department), they plan to travel, enjoy time with their daughters, and of course, take in the beauty and wonder of Michigan.

Stephanie Gordon, a lifelong Hillsdale native, is the managing editor of the Student Stories Blog. She is married to chiropractor, Dr. Matt Gordon, and has three children – Eloise, Flora, and Jack. When she has a spare moment, she enjoys paleo baking, floating on Baw Beese Lake, and breaking a sweat at the gym.

Published in January 2023