Lessons from a Cyber Spy and a Global Language Learner

On Thursday, March 2, we honored two impressive young graduates with the Hope College Young Alumni Award.

Sarah Sanderson Doyle ’03 is a Rotary International World Peace Fellow studying and researching peace and conflict resolution at International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan. A two-time recipient of highly competitive Fulbright Fellowships, Sarah is a teacher, writer, presenter, language learner and travel enthusiast.

Josiah Dykstra ’02 works within the Research Directorate of the National Security Agency on innovation, infrastructure and analytics for USCYBERCOM. He recently received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States on young professionals in this field.

I had the chance to listen to both of them connect with faculty and students earlier in the week and was struck by an interesting paradox between their two stories.

Sarah’s global experiences have created life lessons through learning where languages become a means to deeper human connection, empathy and potentially global peace. Her lessons included using language to shape your own voice, learn to listen and to speak up for those whose voices aren’t being heard.

Sarah shared from her travels that she has a problem with directions and finding her way around. This is made worse by the fact that in Tokyo she experiences complex labyrinths and tiny alleys that not even Google Maps has penetrated yet. To cope, she started looking up. Tall landmarks like cell phone towers, colorful buildings and the rare tree became a way to retrace her steps and start over again, this time with the confidence of knowing where she is going. She shared that this situation is very similar to the role that Hope College has played in her life.

“Spending four years at such an incredible institution gave me significant landmarks that have directed me in the past and continue to guide me in the future. Whenever I have felt lost, overwhelmed, stressed and afraid I retraced my steps to the framework and foundation that Hope College has laid in my life.”

-Sarah Sanderson Doyle ’03

On the other hand, Josiah’s work deals with languages unseen and unheard, creating networks of a different kind. In this world, peace is maintained through attacks, counter-attacks and threats of retaliation.

During a presentation on “American Self Defense in Cyberspace” with Professor Joel Toppen, Josiah shared some of his expertise with students and community members. Later, as he accepted the award, he sang (yes, the spy sings) a verse from a favorite hymn:

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run,
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

He shared that the sixth and final verse starts “let every creature rise and bring / peculiar honors to our King…” and that he has some peculiar talents of his own to share.

For example, he loves exploring. The unknown, the occasional challenge, those are exciting to him. Josiah also loves to travel and cook. He almost never makes the same thing twice. He liked school because it was an opportunity to learn and think about how the world works. He wrote a book on science in cyber security to help others be better explorers. He became an intelligence officer because that job is about figuring out who’s doing what and why.

“Hope College helped me be a better explorer. I’m glad I took political science, sociology and photography in addition to network design. The more I’ve studied cyber security, the more I value its intersection with economics, psychology and art. I can’t thank Hope enough for helping me develop as an explorer, not only in computer science, but as a laboratory for debating complex, interconnected ideas and questions. Questions like, ‘what kind of a world are we making and what kind of a world should we be making?'”

-Josiah Dykstra ’02

Neither Sarah’s or Josiah’s journey is inherently better or worse than the other. As I recently listened to them share their experiences, I thought that perhaps they are more like two sides of the same coin. It was clear that in both cases, the critical thinking skills, new perspectives and confidence gained at Hope College have empowered them to deal with complexity in a way that has proven invaluable.

View photos of the Young Alumni Award events.

Learn about the Young Alumni Award or make a nomination.

There’s never been a better time to consider attending Hope College. Here’s why.

 

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