As a freshman with an undeclared major, Hillary Delhagen ’09, questioned if Hope College was right for her. Hundreds of miles away from her home in upstate New York, Delhagen was struggling to find her place at Hope College and was thinking about transferring. However, after pushing through the hard adjustment of freshman year and exploring various passions, Delhagen found her calling at Hope. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She then went on to Adler University to pursue a Master of Arts in Art Therapy: Counseling.

Delhagen currently works as a Creative Arts Therapist at Rikers Island Correctional Facility and NYC Health + Hospitals. Though she loves her job as an art therapist, it wasn’t until her junior year that she knew it was a career. It was guests speakers who came into her Behavioral Disorders class that introduces the idea to her. “[They] shared with our class their personal experiences while living with schizophrenia and what they do to cope. The gentlemen shared that the most powerful ways they cope with their mental illness was through poetry and art. It was in that moment I knew exactly what I was meant to do. It seemed so obvious to combine my greatest passions, art and psychology”

“Without the support that Hope provided I would not have had the courage to step outside of my comfort zone and embrace my life calling. Without the freedom to explore my passions I would not be where I am today. Hope taught me that we must recognize, embrace and celebrate the uniqueness of all people, regardless of their background and their past actions.”

In addition to her work at Rikers Island, Delhagen is working at Counseling Space, P.C. At Counseling Space, they partner with each client to create a comprehensive plan that is centered on discovering inner strengths – rather than focusing on weaknesses. This work, and the work at Rikers Island allows hillary to live out both of her passions each day. Each day, she gets to work directly with ohers using art to help them reach their full potential. She never pictured herself working in a correctional facility in the Bronx but she loves what she gets to do each day.

“I can say with confidence that if I had never attended Hope College I never would have ended up where I am today. I am guided by the values and principles instilled in me through my time at Hope…I discovered I was just where I needed to be! I realized that I was being given the gift, opportunity and freedom to explore my passions the moment I walked onto Hope’s campus.”

Hope College allowed her the freedom to explore potential career options before finding the perfect one for her. Her advisor encouraged her to embrace her curiosity, embrace her interests and embrace what made her think. She took full advantage of the liberal arts education Hope College provided her. The impact of that education has stayed with her and she is able to use it everyday while at work with clients.

Hope College is proud to give Hillary Delhagen ’09 the 2019 10 Under 10 Award. The “10 Under 10 Awards” honors emerging leaders who are making significant contributions by living out their callings; engaged in the local and global community through professional and/or volunteer involvement; and use their education to think about important issues with wisdom and clarity, communicate effectively to bridge boundaries that divide human communities and act as agents of hope living faithfully into their vocations. Designed for alumni who are within 10 years of graduation, they are presented by the Hope College Alumni Association. Make a nomination today!

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