It’s a new year here at Hope College! Classes have begun, and we are off and running into Hope’s 158th academic year.
Do you remember your first day of classes at Hope? I certainly have fond memories of my first days as a student. In fact, (as cheesy as it sounds) I still see myself, first and foremost, as a kid from Michigan who had the extraordinary privilege of going to Hope College.
As is true for many of you, coming to this school changed my life. For one thing, the education — the academic preparation — I received here changed my life. I continue to believe that Hope is THE best-kept secret among U.S. liberal arts colleges. Period. Not Christian liberal arts colleges. ALL liberal arts colleges. We are working hard to make sure that’s a secret no longer. But even more important than what I learned here was who I met here. I met my wife here, I met lifelong friends here, and I met faculty here who cared for me and invested hours in my success, both in the classroom and out. Most importantly, I met God. During my years here, God for me became a Someone, not a something. All of that together meant, while a student at Hope, I learned I was on this planet for a reason. I learned that, as part of God’s calling for me, even my secular work can have a very sacred purpose.
This is what Hope does. We provide a transformational experience, which includes education, of course, as well as faith formation and calling discovery.
Our first-year students spent the first 18 years of their lives getting ready for this moment… and the transformational experience that will follow. As I wrote to our students last week, one of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain: “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” We believe God put our students on earth for a reason, and part of our purpose at Hope College is to help them discover their purpose.
For me, things have come full circle. The last 18 years of my own life have led me back to this moment! Since graduating from Hope in 2002, I have been on the East Coast, working in government and business. And now, my wife Sarah and I find ourselves “first-years” again at Hope College.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have shared many of the same emotions as our students. We feel nervous, excited, hopeful and eager to get started. Mostly, we feel extraordinarily blessed to be “home,” serving the place that launched a transformation for us more than 20 years ago.
The entire campus community has warmly welcomed us back. We arrived on June 28, greeted by welcome boxes from Student Congress as well as a treehouse and swing in the backyard of the president’s home, which the campus built as a surprise for our three children. The best part of this job has been interacting with Hope’s amazing students — take a look at a fun video that our Public Affairs and Marketing team put together on move-in day.
I ask that you keep Hope College in your prayers as we begin the new academic year. I look forward to connecting with you soon! In the meantime, if you know students or families who may be interested in learning more about Hope College, please share their names at hope.edu/refer.
Spera in Deo, Matt
— Matthew A. Scogin President Hope College
P.S. Some of you have been asking about the Presidential Inauguration, which will take place Friday, September 13, at 2:30 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. I hope that you will be able to join us for this historic moment in our college’s history, if not in person, then in spirit. For those who are unable to attend, the ceremony will be streamed online at hope.edu/live.
Every time a nomination for a 10 Under 10 Award is made, the completed form is sent to my email inbox. Reading through the educational, professional, and humanitarian pursuits of Hope’s youngest alumni is most certainly one of the greatest highlights of my job (and I get to eat Phelps on the daily at a discounted rate, so that’s saying something!) It is impossible not to find joy in reading about all the ways Hope alum within ten years of graduation have already started living into their callings.
All nominees are considered by a selection committee made up of Alumni Board members, faculty, staff and current students. While the selection process is incredibly difficult for all involved, it is also so much fun to really dive deep into the accomplishments and attributes of each alum. The selection committee is able to read about the impact Hope has had on the development of who they have become and what they are doing in the world. I’m confident everyone leaves those meetings full of pride, amazement and inspiration.
And while each recipient always makes me fangirl a little bit, one of the greatest things about this award to me is the fact that it is not just celebrating these 10 individuals. It represents all of the impacts Hope has had on its graduates, and the impact that they in turn can have on the world. While we can only highlight a small percentage of our young alumni, the hope is that they will not overshadow our other recent graduates, but serve as an example of the amazing people who count Hope as their alma mater. We couldn’t be more proud of the many alumni who happen to not be on this list, but are living beautiful lives that reflect their unique abilities, attributes and passions.
The criteria for the 10 Under 10 Awards was crafted by the Alumni Board to seek out graduates who are exuding the best of Hope. Each of the recipients are:
Emerging leaders making significant contributions by living out their calling.
Engaged in the local or global community through professional and/or volunteer involvement.
Serving as an outstanding young role model for current and future students and alumni by showcasing the attributes of a graduate anchored in Hope.
Alumni, students, families and friends are invited to the 10 Under 10 Soirée during One Big Weekend on Friday, October 11 from 7-9 pm at City Flats Hotel as part of Hope on 8th Street. You’ll celebrate with these young alumni in a casual meet-and-greet setting with a short award presentation, appetizers and a cash bar. Registration is not required and you may come and go as you please. You won’t want to miss it!
Do you know someone who belongs on this list for 2020? We are accepting nominations! Simply fill out this short form and our nominee will be added to the list and considered for next year’s award.
We are pleased to announce the following Hope College 10 Under 10 Award Recipients for 2019:
In 1927, distance travel by automobile was less common than today. The U.S. had only recently introduced the numbered highway system, using existing roads, and the interstate freeways were still some three decades in the future. Even so, a trip home to Long Island from college in Holland mightn’t normally have merited a story — complete with a three-deck headline and a two-column photograph — in the local newspaper.
It happens, though, that Hope classmates William A. (Bill) Heydorn ’28 of College Point, New York, and Howard R. Sluyter ’28 of Paterson, New Jersey, made a particularly unique odyssey. They conducted what the newspaper characterized as an “epochal tour” in a “superannuated Ford assembled from a junk pile for a $10 bill” — about $147 in today’s dollars. The photo shows Heydorn at the wheel of the aged Model T, which the story noted was reliable but decidedly basic transportation: the four-door convertible lacked a top.
“They surprised family and friends by rumbling into College Point after a four-day trip from the Michigan town, and after a day’s visit they returned in as good time without a mishap of any sort,” the article notes. “Chalked with the names of the cities and towns through which it had passed, the Ford attracted considerable attention parked in front of the Heydorn home.”
The account continues, “En route from the college town on the shores of Lake Michigan the expedition paused in Detroit where in front of the big Ford factories a respectful salute of two honks was sounded. The boys drove through the southern Ontario peninsula and visited Niagara Falls and Buffalo along the way.”
As Heydorn’s son Dr. William H. (Bill) Heydorn ’55 of Tiburon, California, explained, his father attended Hope for three semesters, transferring in his junior year to meet the requirements for seminary. The elder Heydorn and Sluyter had known each other for several years before coming to Hope — Sluyter’s father had pastored First Reformed Church in College Point from 1915 to 1920, immediately prior to moving on to Paterson. They made the journey during the summer between their junior and senior years, which they’d spent working in a gravel pit between Holland and Grand Rapids.
After Hope, William A. Heydorn ’28 attended New Brunswick Seminary and became a pastor, serving churches in Schenectady, Kinderhook and Hawthorne, New York. He died at age 50 on Oct. 15, 1958. Howard R. Sluyter ’28 became a prominent businessman in Grand Rapids and Dallas, and served on the college’s Board of Trustees from 1968 until his death at age 79 on July 12, 1986.
In addition to being immortalized in print, the tale of the 1927 road trip made an important impression on Bill Heydorn ’55 (who is a physician who served in the U.S. Army for nearly 30 years and has stayed active in medicine since retiring as a colonel in 1989), including not least of all by influencing his college choice.
“The article and his scrapbook provided the incentive for me to stop in Holland on a trip around the country in between my junior and senior years of high school. The pickup truck used for the trip was adorned with the names of the places we traveled through,” he recalled. “I had a list of individuals of ‘friends of my dad’ who we could call upon, including his English teacher Irwin Lubbers, who was now college president. Dr. Lubbers personally gave of his time to tour the campus and convinced me this is where I wanted to go.”
I am writing to share with you my experience on one of the most amazing trips I have ever been on in my life – and I have been fortunate to visit over 45 countries during my career.
My wife, Gail, and I joined 26 other alumni and friends for a Tanzania Safari with the Hope College Alumni Association’s Global Travel Program. Going on safari has always been high on my “bucket list” and the idea of going with an award-winning wildlife photojournalist and other Hope alumni and friends was too good to miss. On all scores, the trip exceeded my lofty expectations – from wildlife viewing to cultural excursions to getting re-acquainted with a number of former classmates and fraternity brothers to meeting and making many new friends who share a common love for Hope College.
The trip was well organized by Pat Van Wylen, who did a fabulous job with logistics before and during our excursion. She was ably joined by ornithologist, professor emeritus, and founder of Birder’s World Magazine, Eldon Greij, as well as distinguished alumnus, Tim Laman ’83. I cannot hope to compare to the quality of Tim’s work. You can see for yourself on Instagram, where he now has over one million followers! Eldon and Tim were so gracious in imparting their vast knowledge and experience that it made the trip a phenomenal learning opportunity.
Tanzania is ranked as one of the best African countries for safaris. It is not hard to see why. With almost a third of Tanzania protected for wildlife, viewing opportunities were endless. We followed what is called the northern safari circuit, where we witnessed an amazing array of wildlife and enchanting landscapes. This program was designed to maximize animal viewing and it more than accomplished that goal from dawn to dusk each day. The trip also included a number of cultural experiences designed to provide insights into the history, people and culture of Tanzania.
We experienced a wide variety of ecosystems with unique habitats. We traveled from forest and woodlands with scattered lakes, ponds and wetlands, to wooded savannah where trees and grasslands are interspersed, and finally, to grasslands — both short and tall — culminating in the Serengeti. What an amazing place! But I am getting ahead of myself. One of the points that Eldon and Tim kept emphasizing was to stay in the present moment. Don’t anticipate what is to come next – you never know what is just around the bend of the road.
After flying into Schiphol airport in the Netherlands (how appropriate) from various parts of the US, we flew as a group into Kilimanjaro Airport near Arusha, Tanzania where we stayed at the African Tulip, a luxury boutique hotel.
Our first full day in Africa was spent at Arusha National Park with habitats varying from wetlands to ponds and forests. Eldon was in his happy place because we saw so many different varieties of birds, including flamingos, herons, stilts and plovers. We also saw baboons – including a rare albino – along with zebras, giraffes, buffalo and monkeys. The highlight was watching the huge black and white Colobus monkeys that are unique to this particular area.
The next day began at the Tengeru Cultural Tourism Center where we learned about the Meru people and examined coffee and banana cultivation within a facility that captures, recycles and produces its own biogas. Not only did we get to share a meal, but we followed the coffee harvesting, roasting and grinding process all the way through to enjoying a fresh cup with Mama Gladness and our new friends.
We then moved onto Tarangire National Park. Tarangire has biodiversity not found elsewhere in the northern circuit. We spent two days where the Baobab trees dotted the landscape and there was an abundance of excellent wildlife viewing. The waterbuck, impala and gazelle became commonplace along with large elephant groups. We spotted lions, watched a leopard stalking a warthog and a Goliath heron perched on a rock in the river.
We next moved on to spend two days exploring the enchanting Lake Manyara National Park. Ernest Hemingway once called this area the “loveliest place in Africa.” The park, with its phenomenal assortment of wildlife, is set up against the imposing huge western wall of the Great Rift Valley. The forest, lake and wetlands are home to a diversity of bird species so vast that it was hard to keep up on the ornithology lessons from Eldon. We spent our nights at The Retreat at Ngorongoro, a gorgeous new lodge at the top of the western wall. While there we visited the Iraqw to learn about their culture and history and to tour a nearby hill-side home. We witnessed a traditional marriage ceremony and some of our group had the opportunity to ‘renew’ vows.
Next, we were off to Ndutu Lake, within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It lies on the southern edge of the Serengeti plains and is filled with Acacia trees. We spent the night at the Ndutu Safari Lodge. The area is famous for cheetah and grazing mammals, such as wildebeest, zebras and gazelles, all of whom are at home in the short grass plains of this region. And, sure enough, Ndutu did not disappoint. On the drive in, we encountered two male lions relaxing under some trees near the lodge.
The next day we were up before the sun to see if could observe cats on the move. And observe we did. We were not half a mile down the trail before encountering a pregnant lion out hunting. After an encounter with our two males again, we happened upon a group of two females and six kittens at a watering hole. While photographing these beautiful creatures, our guide spotted what he suspected was a cheetah chasing a wildebeest. We arrived just as the cat took down its prey. As we sat in the middle of the vast plain, we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of the Great Migration as thousands of zebras and wildebeest came thundering out of the trees on the surrounding hillside and began to fill up the surrounding area from horizon to horizon. It was an awe inspiring site to say the least.
We then spent two days exploring Serengeti National Park, the preeminent park in East Africa and home to more than 2 million large mammals, including the big cats — lions, leopards and cheetahs. We spent two nights at the elegant Serengeti Serena Lodge. Where else in the world are you going to suddenly encounter a female cheetah and her six kittens resting in the shade of an Acacia tree? Or a pregnant leopard sleeping on a branch of a tree? Or another out stalking prey in the tall grass?
On our way to the Ngorongoro Highlands, we visited Olduvai Gorge (although we were instructed that the correct name is Oldupai – after the plant that grows there). The site is famous for early hominid findings from the team of Louis and Mary Leakey. A fascinating and well done museum has just been opened on the site and we were treated to a lecture and overview of the history of the site by the museum director.
After a couple of hours touring the Gorge, we move from one UNESCO World Heritage Site to another. At the top of the highlands sits the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, a collapsed caldera that is the largest in Africa. We packed a picnic lunch and descended from the beautiful Ngorongoro SOPA Lodge, located on the crater rim, into the spacious crater floor, where an absolutely incredible experience with wildlife awaited us.
Over the course of the next few hours, we witnessed several hunts and attempted hunts between lions, buffalo and hyenas. At one point, we were positioned in between two very different encounters. On our right, two packs of hyenas were attacking a buffalo calf that had become separated from its mother and the herd. The buffalo tried for the longest time to fend off the attack, but was simply out numbered. On our left, we witnessed the sight of a young male lion that somehow found itself surrounded by an angry herd of buffalo that began hooking the helpless cat and throwing it into the air over and over again. It is amazing that the lion survived the repeated attacks and continued to fight back. After 15 minutes or so, the buffalo abandoned the cat. But we were not finished. One of our vehicles spotted another hunt underway with two lionesses stalking a small buffalo herd. A seeming stalemate ensued until four more from the pride arrived to join in the hunt. It didn’t take long after that for the buffalo to fall. We watched in astonishment.
Tim Laman summed up everyone’s sentiments for the day: “At times these scenes were not pleasant to watch, I will admit. Nature can be harsh. But it was real, and it was amazing to witness the cycle of life in a place that is still wild. We need places like that on earth, and it is good for us to visit them. As Tennyson wrote, on this day, we truly witnessed nature red in tooth and claw.”
We also visited a Maasai school in the area that Hope College groups have been financially supporting for the past few years. We also brought a number of gifts such as soccer balls, frisbees, jump ropes and other toys for the children to play with. It was fun to play with such an energetic group of students. We visited classrooms where we exchanged songs. In spite of our best efforts, we were totally outclassed by the students singing the Tanzania national anthem. They were beautiful.
But our adventure was not over. There is no pavement on the roads around the rim of the crater. Given that the rim is quite often in the clouds during this the rainy season, the volcanic soil turns into a deep, red, slippery mud. Our drive up the night before had been harrowing enough, but two more days of wet made the drive even more treacherous. We attempted to get permission to go out via the park, but we were denied. So . . . we forged on. This is where you really appreciate the skills and experience of our guides from Roy Safaris. Although one of our vehicles did indeed become stuck trying to avoid another vehicle mired in the mud, they were able to free both from the mess.
On our final morning before heading to the airport for our flights home, many of us visited the Plaster House. Plaster House is the home of the Rehabilitative Surgery Program of the Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre in Northern Tanzania. It was established in 2008 to provide a unique and loving home away from home for children receiving pre- and post-operative care and rehabilitation for a surgically correctable disability. It was truly a moving experience to see these children and their families recovering from surgeries to correct club feet, harelip and cleft palates that had hindered them from leading a normal life.
I leave you with this picture of our fearless leaders. Our amazing guides are decked out in Hope College track warm ups. From left to right are: Hussein, Tim Laman, Niko, Pat Van Wylen, God Bless, Eldon Greij and Moses.
I cannot recommend highly enough that you check out the opportunity to participate in a future program. New Zealand with Dave Van Wylen and Croatia with John Tammi are two destinations currently open for registration. It is a great way to re-engage with your alma mater.
I want to take a moment to introduce myself and my new role at Hope. I am both an alumnus and a parent of two third-generation Hope students. This April, after a 21-year career at a Fortune 250 company, I made the decision to accept a role at my alma mater focused specifically on parent engagement and philanthropy. I am grateful for the education and opportunities that Hope has provided for my family and delighted to join a team that is focused on transforming the lives of our students, our community, and our world.
One of my objectives is to engage alumni and families to expand the reach of the college via enhanced learning and vocational experiences through the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career. By establishing the Boerigter Center, Hope College is one of the few higher education institutions nationally to streamline the intersection of calling, academic advising, experiential learning, and internships/career connections. This forward-thinking was recently highlighted in a New York Times article titled, “One Way to Make College Meaningful.”
Strong and diverse networks are a key element that make these types of programs successful. Parents and alumni play an integral role in identifying and cultivating experiential learning opportunities for our students as well as expressing the value that Hope College brings to your family and community.
I look forward to connecting with you in the near future to personally hear your ideas and insights about Hope College. Together we can build the network and support the services needed to enhance students’ experiences, equipping them to impact our community and our world.
Daniel J. Osterbaan ’91
Director of Development for Parent Giving
Development and Alumni Engagement
On Sunday, June 23, over 60 Merchants and Makerswill gather in the recently renovated Holland Civic Center. Shoppers and party goers will gather to stroll the booths, snack at the food trucks, grab a drink at the bar and listen to music by Plain Jane Glory.
This isn’t your grandmother’s bazaar, although she would probably have a blast. It’s Etsy in person. It’s a curated party of handmade goodness. It’s a new generation of craft fair and it’s a growing movement that has more than doubled in size and number since it started just two years ago.
It also wouldn’t be happening if Hope College Residential Life and Housing hadn’t paired up Shyle Edelmayer ’07 Lyons and Meghan Follen ’07 French as roommates in Dykstra Hall when they arrived at Hope in the fall of 2003. They first met during Orientation at their residence hall check-in and became fast friends. Their parents all went to high school in Grand Haven and they both had grandfathers who played football at Hope. Shyle and Meghan went on to live in Gilmore Hall and VanDreiser Cottage before graduating and pursuing their own professional interests.
Shyle worked at Bethany Christian Services in foster care, Habitat for Humanity as a volunteer coordinator and with a YMCA after school program. Meghan’s career focused on graphic design, marketing and special events. When Shyle moved to San Diego, Meghan moved into her apartment in Grand Haven.
It was in San Diego when Shyle attended maker’s arcades and realized that the craft fair concept could be a lot more fun. She had a vision for events that would create community and be more enjoyable for shoppers and vendors alike. In a world of Target and Amazon, she realized that people craved an experience where they could meet the people that make food, drinks and goods locally.
After Shyle moved back to Michigan she teamed back up with Meghan to host the first Merchants and Makers at Watermark Church in February of 2017. They have since incorporated, grown to host events in all seasons that draw up to 75 vendors and 1,400 shoppers. Each event has a unique location, group of artists, music, food and drink. They have continued to grow and support a community of artists, who gather once a month to talk marketing, social media, product photography and pricing strategies and to encourage one another. They focus on collaboration over competition and always have room to welcome new makers.
They look back at their experience at Hope College, and their old scrapbook shown below, with nostalgia. They recognize that they first learned about purpose and calling at Hope. They have taken those lessons to heart as they have followed interests and talents that light them up and meet a need in the community. They also learned to be adaptable and open-minded and about the importance of building community.
Their advice for students today is to spend more time creating, taking more than just required courses. They encourage everyone to explore interests and passions and remind students to be open-minded about where life can take them. Shyle went from social work and foster care to selling clothes, to motherhood, to heading down a completely different path with Merchants and Makers. She has a degree in social work that she may never directly use again. However, she shares that it isn’t any less valuable. The skills she learned in public service she now applies to creating new communities and new markets.
If you’d like to see this community in action, check out the Merchants and Makers event at the Holland Civic Center on Sunday, June 23 from 12 to 5 pm. There is a $3 entry at the door. Cash and cards are accepted. Shyle and Meghan can’t wait to meet you there.
Hope College provides instruction and experience in every major arts program. In fact, Hope was the first private, liberal arts college to hold national accreditation in art, dance, music and theater. Perhaps it is not surprising that a visit to New York City, which has been a shining theatrical center since electricity first hit Broadway in the 1880s, would put you in contact with Hope College alumni on stage, behind the scenes and, in some cases, programming the lights.
One out of every ten Hope graduates majors in the arts and they are twice as likely than their counterparts to live in New York. While they each have unique stories, they also have common experiences. Some were encouraged to apply for a Distinguished Artist Award scholarship when they first considered Hope. Others met a unique blend of distinguished professionals and young artists from all over the country when they participated in Hope Summer Repertory Theatre (HSRT). Still others benefited from Hope’s connections to the Great Lakes College Association and the NY Arts Program, putting their creativity to work with an immersive internship and seminar experience in NYC.
Susan Checklick ’97 is a self-professed jack of all trades, master of none. With 20 years of experience on Broadway as a wardrobe supervisor, she floats between HR manager, professional shopper, tailor, team builder, pants-presser and counselor. Currently, she sets up shop below deck at the Music Box Theatre. Established by Irving Berlin in 1919, it is now home to the award-winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen. Her prior experience includes Tuck Everlasting, Newsies, Matilda and In the Heights. She credits faculty mentors like Michelle Bombe and Perry Landes for identifying her talent and providing her a safe place to explore prior to returning to New York.
Lindsey Ferguson’09 is a dynamic freelance performer with experiences ranging from aerial trapeze, Broadway magic in The Illusionist, performances at Radio City Music Hall, television and film appearances like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and immersive theatre with Third Rail Projects. She moved to New York 11 years ago after auditioning through a connection from a visiting professor. Inspired by her faculty, she also has intentionally sought out teaching opportunities, including at Joffrey Ballet School, Hope College and Montclair State University. While a dance major, theatre at Hope College was a big part of her life. She even met her fiancé while a cast member with HSRT.
Isaac Bush ’09 is from a third generation Hope family and has used the stage to launch from Muskegon, Michigan to experiences in London, Brazil, China and across the United States. He credits his student role with Rose and the Rime for the trajectory of his career. This nationally acclaimed play developed at Hope in 2007 has inspired his training at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London as well as his founding of the Circle Theater of New York. From using Hansel and Gretel to tell the story of child soldiers in the Middle East, to exploring the intersection of media and populism, his work uses theater to examine the consequences of our actions and how they affect the most vulnerable in society.
Jeremy Lydic ’02 was a football player in Iowa when he discovered his true passion for music and theatre. Focusing on this, he chose to attend Hope. He studied abroad in London and gained experience as a production assistant. After graduation, he moved to New York with fellow alumni to become a singer and director. After being on stage as much as he could and singing in choirs and experimental operas, he decided to focus on backstage skills first learned at Hope. His career grew to include work with the Public Theater, Einstein on the Beach, Pomegranate Arts and his own design and production company. He has worked on over 60 Broadway productions, including Book of Mormon, Something Rotten and Cats, and has toured internationally in over twelve countries.
Nathan Hart ’01 went from performing in plays to preaching in pulpits. He was a student of the religion, communication and theatre departments at Hope but discovered his true self through theatre. Upon urging from a faculty member, he attended Princeton Seminary after graduating. Internship experiences, including with the Yankees team chaplain and with Bible studies on Wall Street, shaped his vocational interests and built an important network. He took his first call to a congregation on Long Island and then worked with students on the Upper East Side. Eight years ago, he responded to a call back to pastoral ministry at Stanwich Church in Greenwich, Connecticut. He recently became its senior pastor.
Lydia Ruth Dawson ’13 knew she could start a successful career in New York after she danced with the Joffrey Ballet as a Hope College sophomore. It didn’t hurt that she was an English literature and musical theater composite double major with dance and Spanish minors where she broadened her skill set and was encouraged to grow. She has performed with American Ballet Theater, appeared in film and over 20 regional theater productions, danced in three off-Broadway shows and has been on a national tour with Cirque BELIEVE. You can find her working at SoulCycle, dancing at Steps on Broadway and Broadway Dance Center when she returns from St. Louis where she is currently performing in The Boy from Oz.
Megan Mills ’99 moved into Kleinheksel Cottage with a group of transfer students when she came to Hope as a junior. She knew she was forming lifelong friendships immediately. With her time at Hope limited, she got involved with chapel and the theatre department. She graduated and moved to New York where she worked “survivor jobs” alongside backstage roles on Broadway and Off-Broadway. For eight years she created, directed, taught and studied improv. Then, at the age of 30 and within a year of getting married, she had a stroke. One year later she had open heart surgery. She credits her journey to a healthy recovery to a deep-rooted faith planted at Hope and a little improvisation.
No matter how their journey brought them to the city that never sleeps, they all had a common starting point at Hope College. It served as a foundation of curiosity, identity development and practical experience that they continue to build on today.
These graduates were clearly influenced by an intentional liberal arts approach to education. They have developed a wide base of knowledge and an intense desire to know and to understand.
“Lindsey Ferguson believes her range of knowledge across history, religion and culture makes her more than just a talented dancer, but a smart dancer.”
Lindsey Ferguson believes her range of knowledge across history, religion and culture makes her more than just a talented dancer, but a smart dancer. She can share wisdom and opinions on her craft, providing her a seat at the table when decisions are made. Likewise, Isaac Bush’s journey has been invigorated by the liberal arts, allowing him to find solutions to problems, such as limited funding for the arts, with approaches inspired by other industries. Lydia Ruth Dawson feels that her job as an actor is to convey truth. Her varied exposure to history, literature, science, art and faith allows her to more believably convey characters onstage.
This has provided them all with an incredible ability to adapt to the challenges of their industry. Lindsey’s freelance career requires a constant flux from gig to gig. Isaac faced limitations in casting in the United States and realized that on an international stage he could stand out. Jeremy Lydic had a well-rounded education beyond acting and singing. This allowed him to use design, stagecraft, electronics and crew skills in ways that made him marketable and created a network in the industry. Megan Mills explored life’s possibilities through improv. She learned to listen, adapt, encourage and question. She sees parallels between the improv stage and faith, sharing that “when we jump in to help each other through life’s rough patches we can create something better and move forward.”
Each of these graduates had glimmers of passion for the arts during their youth. Susan Checklick loved to sew with her mom and later merged this with a love for theatre when she became a wardrobe supervisor. Lindsey Ferguson remembers dancing in the living room as a toddler. After growing up in a small town in upstate New York, she found out about Hope College and continued to dance here. Nathan Hart credits the theatre department at Hope as helping him discover his true self. When he was young he thought of acting as pretending, but at Hope realized that acting comes from a place of truth and from answering questions like, “who am I really?”
The career can be brutal with rejection on a weekly basis as agents tell you who you should be. In this environment, these alumni shared the importance of knowing who you are at a deeper level. They know that uniqueness as an individual is what makes them an artist. Lindsey recognizes that she needs to be open to others having influence on her creative vision, but ultimately knows the story she wants to tell is her own. Isaac Bush reflects on his identity as a white male and the responsibility he feels to incorporate different voices and advocate for those that are marginalized.
In addition to understanding themselves, these graduates know the importance of being part of a community.
Susan’s friendships within the theatre community on Broadway are her favorite part of her work. Her strongest moments, like those on stage, are when she connects with others as human beings. Lindsey sees her art as a gift and responsibility to others. The phrase, “it takes a village”, recurs constantly. Nathan acknowledges that the Hope network is far more scarce in New York than it is in the Midwest. This makes the awareness of that network and the importance of community building even more meaningful. In addition, Lydia Ruth Dawson believes her ability to adapt quickly, find balance and create community is invaluable as she constantly tours around the country. As a transfer student with only two years at Hope, Megan Mills learned to jump in to communities as soon as you can. She says, “the time you have with those around you might be short, but with intention they become people you couldn’t imagine doing life without.”
Finally, many of their journeys included practical, hands-on learning experiences and a desire for even more business training.
With a chuckle, Susan Checklick said, “the only thing they didn’t teach me in school was Excel spreadsheets.” Isaac Bush envisions future programs on campus that pair business students with arts majors to work on interdisciplinary projects. His advice to future artists is to take business classes. He knows they are not the exciting classes theatre majors want to take, but acknowledges that they are necessary to keep art available and affordable. In his words, ‘you need business acumen to survive.”
“There is no such thing as failing. There is only learning.”
Susan also goes so far as to say that there is no such thing as failing. There is only learning. With just 27 shows operating on Broadway, there is limited demand for her work at that level. She credits internships and summer work as what has helped her to stand out. Jeremy Lydic encourages others to explore curiosities and interests, adding “you never know when they may lead to job opportunities or creative relationships.” Nathan Hart had internship experiences that opened his eyes to how the world works beyond the classroom. He thinks of them daily. As she reflects back on her years at Hope College, Lydia Ruth Dawson sees Hope as a “lovely bubble,” acknowledging that it only prepares you if you get out of it from time to time to see what you need to be prepared for.
My name is Yea Rang Song. I will be a junior this fall, and I am pursuing a degree in religion with an emphasis on biblical studies, German and classical studies. I plan to go to seminary after college and prepare to become a missionary like my parents; their lives as missionaries in South Africa and Zimbabwe have inspired me to help others.
Two years ago, on August 16, 2017, my plane landed at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was exhausted from a long flight from South Korea but also excited for the “dream come true” college life. I remember getting into a white van with the Hope College logo on it and setting off for Holland, Michigan to begin a new adventure.
Growing up in South Korea, South Africa and Zimbabwe, I knew I wanted to attend college, but I wasn’t sure where. I began researching different colleges, but was interested in Hope because it was recommended to me by my cousin. Unlike other colleges and universities, Hope had the best acceptance letter! All the other places sent a short email or letter congratulating me, but Hope’s was different — it was very personal. They responded to every single detail that I had written in my application essay. That is when I decided that I wanted to be part of a community like Hope College.
When I got out of the van, I found myself surrounded by a beautiful green campus. It was quiet because I had arrived a week earlier than other incoming freshmen. This was so I could attend a time of orientation designed especially for international students. This week-long series of events and activities put on by the Fried Center for Global Engagement was set up to help us learn about Hope, Holland and Michigan. My favorite part was visiting the Sleeping Bear Dunes and Mackinac Island. Looking back at this experience, I am even more grateful for the warm welcome I received and for all of the staff members at the Fried Center for Global Engagement.
Freshman year was the year of adjusting to American life. Although I had grown up in various countries as a foreigner my entire life, living in America was different. All my professors made their very best effort to make me feel more comfortable and welcome. After class, they would take time to talk to me – it felt good that they went out of their way and were willing to get to know me. Of course, there were times when I didn’t understand why people were saying certain things or doing things in a certain way, but because of these experiences, I was able to learn.
Being part of the Phelps Scholars Program allowed me to experience a more diverse community. All the professors and the students tried their best to understand students from different cultures and values. This program is also where I met my group of close friends. Knowing that there will always be a community for me made my first year at Hope easier.
I got my first job working in Print and Mail Services during the second semester of my freshman year. I learned a lot, and it helped me improve my communication skills. Even at work I felt welcomed. At the beginning of each semester, my boss brought us a meal while going over the goals for the semester. She even provided all the student workers snack bags before finals. Through her actions, I could see how much the staff at Hope cares about their students, and once again there was proof that I had made the right choice in coming to Hope.
After freshman year, I went back home for the summer. Although it was hard to leave home again, returning to Hope for my sophomore year was easier because I knew I had a community at Hope waiting for me which had become my second family. It was also the year I began working in the Development and Alumni Engagement office and learning more about fundraising. I learned how many people give back to help support students like me. In this new job, I had the great opportunity of thanking people for their gifts by writing notes to them.
All of the “different” I had experienced in the past two years was a good different. Growing up as a missionary kid, serving was always a part of my life. It was not until I started working on Hope’s campus that I realized the true meaning of reciprocal service. Serving and being served was a new life experience for me. I am looking forward to traveling to Germany to study abroad this spring and learn even more about what it means to serve in a global society. Hope College has been a blessing to me.
You can help support students like Yea Rang when you make a gift to the area that you love at hope.edu/give.
This was a record-breaking year, thanks to your incredible efforts. With the new “Give To What You Love” campaign, the campus community rallied around Day of Giving with incredible enthusiasm. In 36 hours, $281,395 was raised to support Hope students from over 1,500 donors. (Prior to this year, our best Day of Giving was 2017, when we received $162,101 from 855 gifts.) We couldn’t have achieved this success without your passion and collaboration — and maybe a little competition, too. What if somebody missed Day of Giving and they still want to make a gift? How exciting! Go tohope.edu/give which features an online form for making gifts.
Thank you for coming together for Hope students. Your generosity inspires us — and it tells us that you believe in the transformative power of a Hope education. We are so grateful for your enthusiastic support.
The U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will hear a trust tax case that has significant implications for states and trust beneficiaries. A Hope College graduate, Raj A. Malviya ’02, was part of a prestigious group of eight other national trust and estate experts who drafted and filed the amicus brief. He attended oral arguments at the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. on April 16.
Raj’s involvement is remarkable, considering he is at a relatively early point in his career. However, for those that know him, they aren’t surprised.
Raj has been practicing law since 2005, focusing on estate and tax planning. Today he is a partner at Miller Johnson in Grand Rapids, MI. He is well versed in all aspects of planning for families with foreign ties as well as working with clients like business owners, licensed professionals, film and music artists, public figures and diplomats.
He is involved in a number of professional associations, including the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan, and several sections with the Grand Rapids Bar Association. He is also a member of the Society of Trusts & Estates Professionals. In 2014, he was appointed to the State Bar of Michigan Probate and Estate Planning Council and was selected from among many qualified candidates across the country to be a Fellow in the American Bar Association Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law.
Raj is a fellow with the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, a group of peer-elected trust and estate attorneys from across the United States and abroad. His previous involvement with this group includes being selected as a member of the ACTEC Foundations Young Leaders Program. In 2017, he was elected a fellow by their Board of Regents.
As an advocate for diversity, he was also the co-founder and past president of the South Asian Bar Association of Michigan and served as the Michigan Liaison to the North American South Asian Bar Association where he helped form their Tax Section made up of attorneys, educators, law students and other professionals. In addition, he is an alumnus of the Fellows Program of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity.
In 2016, Raj was one of West Michigan’s young professionals honored by the Grand Rapids Business Journal in their “40 Under Forty.”
Prior to this prestigious start to his career and true to a liberal arts background, Raj was a biology and business administration major at Hope College. He was also a member of the Omicron Kappa Epsilon fraternity and the men’ tennis team on which he held a 55-22 career record in singles and a 46-18 career record in doubles.
After Hope, he went on to earn his LL.M. in Taxation from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and his JD from Valparaiso University School of Law.
This trust income tax case is already getting national attention from a variety of media outlets including Forbes and Bloomberg.
For his part, Raj had this to say about the experience, “It was a privilege to collaborate with national experts on the ACTEC brief. The fiduciary income tax nexus rules across the states are nowhere close to being uniform and vary considerably in scope. Our goal was to provide education to the Court and focus the issues that govern this complex area of tax law. We felt that our brief made a meaningful impact in the case.”