10 Under 10 Award Recipient: Chaz Shelton ’09

“He is focused on creating the technology of today to feed the people of tomorrow by growing food in arid climates.”

Ten Under Ten Award Recipient Chaz Shelton ’09

“Attending Hope College shaped me to be a person who asks the ‘why’ questions? The experience developed me to be someone who digs deep both professionally and personally. Above all, my experience at Hope College grew me into a person that takes personal ownership of my faith.”

Chaz Shelton graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in economics and management from Hope College. He received a certificate in economic growth and development from the University of Pennsylvania and continued his education by pursuing a master of business administration degree with a concentration in finance and entrepreneurship from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.

Shelton has held various professional positions within the business industry. He was a consultant for the Cerner Corporation, a senior data migration specialist for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and a strategy and marketing manager for Xerox Healthcare.

In 2015, Shelton expressed his entrepreneurial spirit by founding Merchant’s Garden AgroTech, where he currently serves as the chief executive officer. Merchant’s Garden is an agricultural company focused on providing communities local produce through the sustainable practice of aquaponics. It is currently servicing southern Arizona and is the only Monterey Bay Sustainable Seafood Certified Farm in the state.

Shelton has been honored for his work as a graduate student and young business professional.

He received the National Social Impact Award from AmeriCorps and a graduate fellowship from both Management Leadership for Tomorrow and the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management. During his graduate studies, he was selected as the $100,000 Business Plan winner by the Indiana University.

Outside of his professional career, Shelton has volunteered with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and serves as a YoungLife Committee Member with the University of Arizona.

Carl Scholten and Chaz Shelton receive their Ten Under Ten Award presented by Associate Professor of English Jesus Montano.

The “10 Under 10 Awards” honor 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!

10 Under 10 Award Recipient: Izzy Rhodes ’11

“She advocates for the de-stigmatization of mental health in the church and supports families experiencing medical trauma.”

Ten Under Ten Award Recipient Izzy Rhodes ’11

Similar to many undergraduate students, Izzy Rhodes entered Hope College as a freshman undecided on a major and no hint of what the future would hold. Rhodes graduated cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Hope College.

“Receiving a liberal arts education helped me to learn discernment. The supportive environment at Hope, especially from the faculty and staff, was formational as many people came alongside me to encourage and speak into my life. Hope did not just offer me an education; it enabled me to discover who I am and how I want to engage meaningfully with the world.”

Shortly after completing her undergraduate studies, Rhodes continued her education in order to equip her with the skills necessary to fulfill her calling of helping and serving people through a combination of theology and social work. She spent the first two years of her graduate studies at Western Theological Seminary, where she received a master of divinity degree with an emphasis in pastoral care and counseling. During her studies at Western Theological Seminary, she served as a chaplain intern with the Holland Hospital, focusing on acute crisis trauma response and behavioral health.

Rhodes then continued her studies at the University of Denver where she received her master of social work degree with a concentration in health and wellness and an emphasis in trauma. During her time in Colorado, Rhodes held various positions providing her real exposure and experience to pair with her studies. She served as an adjunct faculty member with the Institute for Life and Care, creating  psycho-educational curriculum specific to client needs in order to prepare them to engage and fulfill their role more fully, and as a pediatric intensive care unit social work Intern, assessing needs, offering resources, navigating support systems, and addressing barriers to care for patients and families. Rhodes also served as the pastor of community engagement for City Church Denver, overseeing community groups, offering emotional and logistical support to neighborhood leaders, and assisting in leading liturgy and administration for worship services.

Following the completion of her graduate studies, Rhodes returned to western Michigan to pursue her career as both a chaplain and social worker. She served as the local mission program specialist for the Reformed Church in America, focusing on training and empowering churches to engage and support their local communities. Since the summer of 2016, Rhodes has served as an on-call crisis chaplain with Holland Hospital, where she works with patients and families in the emergency department and intensive care unit supporting them as they navigate critical choices in care and advocating for them within the hospital system.

Rhodes has been honored for her professional work as a social worker and pastor. She presented at the National Conference of the American Sociological Association, received the Stanley A. Rock Award in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Western Theological Seminary, and is a member of the Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society at the University of Denver. Rhodes created an independent study called “Theology of Trauma: A Reformed Perspective” during her time at the University of Denver and is an ordained minister of word and sacrament with the Reformed Church in America.

Outside of her professional career, Rhodes has been an active member of her various communities. She participated in Community Service Days with the University of Denver, volunteered with the Animal Welfare Network in Kenya, Africa, and was a member of the Mental Health Task Force with the Holland Free Health Clinic.

Izzy Rhodes receives her 10 Under 10 Award from Assistant Professor of Sociology Pam Koch.

The “10 Under 10 Awards” honor 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!

10 Under 10 Award Recipient: Quinn Nystrom ’08

“She brings a voice of hope and knowledge to people living with diabetes.”

Ten Under Ten Award Recipient Quinn Nystrom ’08

At a young age, Quinn Nystrom spent a year meeting thousands of people with diabetes, advocating and speaking upon their behalf across the nation as the National Youth Advocate for the American Diabetes Association. During this time, Nystrom realized that if she developed her communication skills and knowledge in policy making, she would be a more impactful speaker and advocate. This passion eventually led her to attend her dream institution, Hope College, where she graduated cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in communication.

Upon the completion of her undergraduate studies, Nystrom began a role with AmerisourceBergen as a program and account manager. In 2014, she continued her career in a new role as the Public Relations and Social Media Specialist and the Interim Marketing Manager for the Tri-County Health Care System in Wadena, Minnesota.

Living out her passion to become a full-time speaker and diabetes advocate, Nystrom founded Qspeak, which allows her to speak, advocate, write, consult, and raise funds for diabetes on a full-time basis.

“Ten years after graduating from Hope College, I’m living out my dream [of] being a full-time professional speaker and published author. I get to speak to other people with diabetes, their caregivers, as well as health care professionals about the trials and tribulations that I’ve gone through with this disease….My message is hope-filled, that regardless of life’s challenges, when we have hope, faith, and love, we can overcome any obstacle thrown our way. I’m grateful to Hope College for equipping me with a strong skill set in order to be able to impact so many lives through my God-given vocation.”

Nystrom has been honored for her advocacy and leadership locally and nationally. In 2014, she received the Dreamcatcher Award from the Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation and in 2015, she was recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans by the Minnesota Jaycees. Nystrom was nationally recognized by the American Diabetes Association by receiving the Advocacy Act Award in 2016. More recently, she was selected to serve as an Initiator Fellow with Initiative Foundation to help foster young entrepreneurs in Central Minnesota. Nystrom furthers her advocacy work serving as the national diabetes ambassador for the Center for Change, providing her a national platform and opportunity to speak on the high prevalence of Type 1 diabetes and eating disorders. She also serves on the Advocacy Committee and Community Leadership Board with the American Diabetes Association.

Alongside her professional career, Nystrom maintains an active role in her community as an elected council member for the city of Baxter, Minnesota. She serves as the Parks and Trails Commission, Community Behavioral Health Hospital, and Brainerd Lakes Area Sex Trafficking Task Force liaisons.

Learn more about Quinn on her website: quinnnystrom.com and follow her on these social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn .

Quinn Nystrom receives her 10 Under 10 Award from Assistant Professor of Communication Rob Pocock.

The “10 Under 10 Awards” honor 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!

We Love You, Nykerk!

Hope College – The 83rd annual Nykerk Cup competition held at the DeVos Fieldhouse.

Nykerk is something that is hard to explain- and I’ve had a lot of practice trying. It’s typically brought up in a conversation by someone asking me about why all of my friends are dressed up in navy sweaters and white turtlenecks. I usually laugh and launch into an explanation of the 84-year-old Hope College tradition that impacted me so much; I wanted to come back and coach.

Being a song girl was something I wore with pride. I loved walking to our practice room and seeing girls that became my close friends over the four week season and the morale boys who did everything in their power to make us feel appreciated. There is nothing like working for weeks on something and then finally hitting the chord perfectly or putting up the correct prop at the exact time. We knew we were doing something right when we made our coaches tear up.

These feelings were nothing in comparison to putting on the ‘nun-fit’ as we call it and standing with my Even Year Sisters for the last time. Getting up on the bleachers was an incredibly bittersweet moment- I mean, this is what we worked for, but this was also our last time as song girls. At the end of the song, it is a tradition for all the song girls to put our hands up and stay that way until everyone stops clapping.


Our Sophomore year was no different, but as our hand went up, the tears came down. I looked to my left and noticed that a girl who has become one of my best friends purely because we met sitting next to each other at practice freshman year, was overcome by the same emotions. We loved Nykerk, and we will always keep it in a special place in our hearts.

Hope College – The 83rd annual Nykerk Cup competition held at the DeVos Fieldhouse.

Song isn’t the only event; there is also play and oration. I have so much appreciation for each of these segments of the competition as well. Nykerk is much more than a song; it is an event that teaches the women of Hope College to stand tall and be proud of the work we are putting into our school. When all three of our events combine in a way that every participant left their heart and soul on the stage, we know we have accomplished our goal of working together to do something magnificent.

Hope College – The 83rd annual Nykerk Cup competition held at the DeVos Fieldhouse.

We end each practice with a song I’ll leave you with that I believe captures why we do what we do every year in this tradition:

“We love you Nykerk, oh yes we do. We love you Nykerk, and we’ll be true. When you’re not with us, we’re blue (so blue!). Oh, Nykerk, we love you!”

You can help support student activities like Nykerk and keep the tradition strong. Make your gift today and show your love for Nykerk.

Join us for the 84th Annual Nykerk Cup Competition on Saturday, October 20 at 7 pm at DeVos Fieldhouse.

One Big Weekend Top Ten | Events You Don’t Want To Miss!

Alumni, families and friends,

We’re looking forward to welcoming you back to campus for One Big Weekend: Homecoming and Family Weekend October 19 through 21, 2018. There’s a full list of the events happening on campus at hope.edu/onebigweekend. Here’s our Top Ten events you won’t want to miss! Register today and make plans to join us!

1. Shop, Sip, Save and Dine Downtown Holland
Celebrate this special weekend the Hope way – on 8th Street! The party starts at Courtyard Marriott from 5-9 pm where you can pick up all the info you need to make the most of your time downtown. Dozens of shops and restaurants will be featuring special deals and freebies for the Hope community!

2. Rev Up for the Game
The Pregame Pit Stop is the perfect prep for the football game! Grab a bag of popcorn, play a few games, and check out the Formula SAE car before heading into Ray & Sue Smith Stadium for a showdown between the Hope College Flying Dutchmen and the Olivet Comets.

3. Get Fit and Have Fun
Race through the streets of Holland while grabbing a donut hole at every mile! The Donut Run 5K benefits Dance Marathon (which ultimately benefits the Miracle Kids of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital). Once you are all warmed up, head to the Pine Grove to round out a fitness-filled morning with some yoga with Heather Winia ’91.

4. Stroll the Market
Grab a hot cup of coffee at a local shop and head to the Holland Farmers Market and check out the newly renovated Civic Center!

5. Stop by for Swag
Stop by the One BIG Weekend Resource Center to snag some weekend info, yummy snacks and even a few freebies. Be sure to show them your Guidebook app to receive free sunglasses. And since the Resource Center is conveniently located in the Bookstore, you’ll be able to update your Hope wardrobe too!

6. Worship with Community
Finish up the weekend with worship in Dimnent Chapel. Hope will partner with Pillar Church in this service for the Holland community featuring Rev. Jon Brown ’99 and the Alumni Chapel Choir.

7. Fill up at Phelps
Alumni and families will join students in Phelps Dining Hall for the Campus Cookout. Everyone will love this tailgate themed menu!

8. See What’s New
Departments, clubs and Greek organizations will be hosting gatherings all over campus! Be sure to check out the full schedule of events to take part in special events like the Homecoming Gala Concert, Boerigter Center Open House, Nursing Department Open House, Athletics Garage Sale and more!

9. Check out Campus
Take some time to explore campus! Check out the special places you once spent so much time and the new spots current students hang out. Use this app to get a deal at the new Kletz Market inside the Bultman Student Center and be sure to look around while you are there!

10. Nykerk Cup Competition
DeVos Fieldhouse will host the 83 year old Nykerk Cup competition on Saturday night! Freshmen and sophomore students will showcase their talent in Song, Play and Oration to earn the coveted Nykerk Cup for their historic “Even Year” or “Odd Year” teams. You won’t want to miss it!

The 121st Pull | Saturday, September 29

To witness a Pull Day is remarkable. The event itself is an absolute spectacle, a marvel, the proportions of which our lovely little college rarely sees. It seems that all of Hope College comes out to watch. They come to support friends, to cheer on their year, to support the new team, to marvel, to gasp, to hold their breath with us, and some, I imagine, come for the same reason people watch a train wreck- they just can’t look away. What they’re looking at is one of the nation’s oldest, longest lasting college traditions: the Pull. At Hope College, for over 120 years, twenty freshmen have lined up against twenty sophomores to test their mettle. Between them, as tradition dictates, must be the mighty Black River and a single length of shipping-grade rope. The rules are simple. Three hours. No half-time, no time-outs, no trick plays. With the junior and senior classes coaching the freshmen and sophomores, respectively, the young pullers are surely and rightly guided on their course. Beside them, twenty “moralers” become the puller’s senses, voice of reason, and life-line, as their hearing, sight, and spirit begin to fade. These are the players in “the tug-of-war the Gods gather ‘round to watch”.

Hope College – The 2015 Pull event held on both sides of The Black River. The 2018 Sophomores won the event which lasted the full 3 hours.

We don’t do it because it’s fun (although it certainly becomes quite fun). We don’t do it because it’s easy (it’s not). We don’t do it to party, or to waste time, to “blow off steam,” or because we’re “full of meanness” or any such nonsense. We do it for three distinct reasons: For each other, for tradition, and for ourselves. The Pull is the crucible in which iron-clad community is formed. Brotherhood and sisterhood convenes upon us here. There is no greater bond imaginable than with another with whom you have suffered. Together, we commiserate during weeks of grueling practice, training, and competition. We study together, we eat dinner together. We cry together at our defeats, celebrate together in victory, and rally together again when one of us falls. We do it for community, for harmony. Still, three and four years later, our best friends came from the Pull. This tradition served for us as a vehicle for the most intensive and important human bonding we have known in our lives.

Hope College – Moraler LauraGrace Orner ’20 at the Pull on The Black River.

Even beyond the community that’s formed, we do it for tradition’s sake. In a culture that is largely focused on innovation, the Pull reminds us that we “stand on shoulders of giants.” Pull represents what motivated, bright, and passionate young folks can do when given a task as difficult as maintaining a tradition over 120 years. To achieve this end, the Pull has had to evolve every few years over the last century, avoiding crisis and extinction time and time again. Notably, it has been college students sustaining this ritual over the years, carrying the flame through the storms of the changing times, continuing to provide freshmen and sophomores with an outlet for self-growth and community. It has been future lawyers, doctors, teachers, and people of influence – it is they who have been faced with the choice through the decades: continue or quit? We have modernized, sure. Although the collective “we” have changed some traditions, written rules, made Pull safer and more inclusive, we continue to carry a torch for generations to come and we will not cease. We carry a flame that seems to have grown fainter over the last decade, yet, it is with the passion of hundreds of years of students before us that we resound, “Pull is here to stay.” Pull is about tradition.

The Pull, above all else, is about self-growth. To be brief, as a lifelong athlete, the physical and mental barriers that the Pull will ask you to break are unparalleled by those of any sport, club, or activity that I know. To “pull” is to reach deep into the recesses of your physical, and mental resources and, finding nothing left, giving more. To “pull” is to go beyond your physical limitations – to “morale” is to drain all available emotional resources and still find more to give. For the morale, the Pull demands complete selflessness. To morale you must ignore all physical pain, push away any emotional distractions, and quiet all senses. All that matters is the caller ahead of you and the puller at your side. Each practice, coaches stand in front of their morale, critiquing every minute movement. The Pull demands perfection, without it you will hurt your puller and your team.

The Pull 2017 – Even Year and Odd Year Pullers prepare for The Pull.

Every year Pull Alumni (on both sides) return to share how the Pull has taught them about their own limitations. They tell stories of challenge, of a great suffering, a deep loss. They tell us how they were able to overcome; they think back on the Pull, they recall their great strength and boundless perseverance, and they hear their coaches yelling, still, the oft quoted reminder that “pain ends.” Of course, pulling a rope will not teach you how to survive bankruptcy or mental illness, but it will, without a doubt, teach you about fortitude, sacrifice, and the spirit of continuation. There is no greater ally in life than this: self-knowledge and an unrelenting will. These have been revealed to us through the Pull.

Writing about the Pull has always been difficult for those of us involved in it. It seems a daunting task to discuss, describe, or explain such an activity so inherently experiential, so physical, so rooted in sensation– to tell people how a “tug-o-war” has moved parts of your spirit, changed parts of your personality, altered how you think. Those lucky and honorable few who have participated in the Pull may well agree; explaining yourself to non-Pullers becomes a challenge rivaling parts of the experience itself. Difficult as its explanation may be, the absurdity of the Pull is not lost on us. We know how it sounds. Crazy, right? It does sound a little crazy, even we can admit. But that’s why we coaches use the tried-and-true persuasion technique when recruiting unsuspecting freshmen at Hope as they stare at us nervously – we’re dressed in camouflage or khakis, maroon and gold or black and red, professing a love for the rope, for the dirt, for tradition, for each other:

“Come on out. Just one day. You’ll see.”

And to all those in our community who wonder, who ask, who can’t really make sense of it all, we extend to you the same plea. You’ll see.

William Lake
’19 Pull Team
’21 Pull Coach

LauraGrace Orner
’20 Pull Team
’22 Pull Coach

Whether you were a puller or a moraler – your bond, heart, spirit and dedication are the same. You can help support the Pull and other student activities like this, by making a gift today!

Announcing the 2018 10 Under 10 Award Recipients

“This is my anchor of hope for this people in the future.”

Much has changed since A.C. Van Raalte used those words to describe Hope College over 150 years ago. Hope no longer houses all its students and classrooms within the walls of Van Vleck Hall, but the goal of preparing students to be a positive impact on the world of tomorrow most certainly remains.

In the fall of 1862, Hope College enrolled its first freshman class of 10 men. In October 2018, we will celebrate our first recipients (men and women) of the 10 under 10 Awards. The awards are designed to honor emerging leaders who are engaged in the local and global community and who exemplify the attributes of a Hope graduate. Full criteria can be found here. Nominations flowed in and a team of Alumni Board members, faculty and staff were presented with the task of selecting the final 10 recipients. The Alumni Board of Directors enthusiastically confirmed the selections and are pleased to sponsor this award.

These 10 recipients have backgrounds and interests as varied as the programs offered at Hope. They are taking their liberal arts education to new heights and impacting the world in big ways.

We are pleased to announce the following Hope College 10 Under 10 Award Recipients for 2018:

Sarah Watkins ’08 Fabian
Assistant Professor of Theatre

She creates new worlds on the stage and instructs others on how to do the same.

 

Xander Krieg ’12
Founder and CTO of AI software company

He developed an algorithm that allows a greater understanding of facial expressions and emotions.

 

Jonas Lawson ’13
Political Advertising Account Executive

He oversees high profile campaigns advertising at the local, state and federal levels.

 

Maggie Mohr ’09
Postdoctoral Fellow in Neurobiology

She has made significant contributions in neuroscience through her research.

 

Quinn Nystrom ’08
Speaker, Author & Diabetes Awareness Advocate

She brings a voice of hope and knowledge to people living with Diabetes.

 

Izzy Rhodes ’11
Hospital Crisis Chaplain
She promotes enhanced attention to mental health in the church and supports families experiencing medical trauma.

 

Travis Rieth ’10
Photographer, Writer & Consultant

He travels North America as a photographer, writer, consultant, adventurer and advocate.

 

Chaz Shelton ’09
Founder & CEO of Hydroponic Food Company

He helps to make fresh food accessible and affordable using science and technology.

 

Carl Scholten ’11
School Principal

He leads school staff and encourages academic and spiritual growth in students.

 

Katherine Stritzke ’08 Simons
Strategy and Marketing Professional

She creates strategies for large-scale business transformations.

Alumni, students, families and friends are invited to celebrate at the 10 Under 10 Soiree during One Big Weekend on Friday, October 19 from 7 – 9 pm at City Flats Hotel as part of Hope on 8th Street. You’ll celebrate with these recipients in a casual meet-and-greet setting with appetizers and a cash bar. No registration is 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 2019? We are accepting nominations! Simply fill out this short form and your nominee will be added to the list and considered for next year’s awards.

A Message from the Registrar

“You’re a person!” exclaimed a surprised student when first meeting with me. Most students, and some families, don’t realize a Registrar is a person’s role and not just the name of an office. While there is a head Registrar, the Registrar’s Office, including our Advising Suite, is first and foremost a team. Our team consists of dedicated staff and advisors that are happy and eager to help students navigate their academic journey.

It isn’t always easy to describe the exact role and function of a Registrar and the Registrar’s Office because our team sits in the center hub of a very large, multi-spoke wheel. The spokes are our students, departments, divisions, administrators, and other offices around campus; and without our spokes we simply wouldn’t be what we are. We have a broad scope of responsibility within Hope College ranging from implementing the college’s academic regulations, maintaining the academic record of all students, building the class schedule, implementing the registration process for classes, determining students’ graduation eligibility, awarding degrees, collecting and distributing grades, and enforcing rules for entering and leaving classes. These are just a few of the ongoing tasks of Hope’s Registrar’s Office that keeps the wheel turning properly.

Carol DeJong meets with a student in the Registrar’s Office

Because a Registrar is charged with enforcing the college’s academic policy, our perception can be rather intimidating or scary. Yet, I diligently strive to be as friendly and welcoming as I can – and have actually been told by several students that I am very approachable. I believe part of what has made me so approachable and open-minded is that I, myself, am a parent of two sons that attended Hope. Reflecting on my thirty years at Hope College, I think I learned the most about the college, and myself as a parent, through the experiences of having my sons attend and graduate from Hope, ’09 and ’10.

I pride myself in being approachable for one of the most enjoyable parts of my job is my personal interaction with students, getting to know them and their talents, and helping them successfully navigate their college career. The highlight of my year is very early May, when my office lines-up students for commencement and assists them with their procession into the ceremony. I get to see the faces of students who have worked so hard to accomplish their goals and it makes me excited for their future.

Carol DeJong, Dean for Academic Services and Registrar

Reunion In A Box

The Idea
A few years ago, a group of alumnae met up at a lake house on the shores of Lake Michigan for a weekend of laying out on the beach, eating popcorn and sharing updates on life and memories of their time sharing a cottage Senior year. When they arrived at the house, they were greeted by a Hope College glass for each of them and orange and blue pom poms, gifts from the Alumni Association after being notified of the gathering. The weekend was a success and the glasses were a hit. Everyone returned to their corners of the country with new tan lines, new laugh lines, new memories and a little piece of Hope.

This simple event planted the seed of an idea to create a program supporting smaller alumni-planned reunions. We love having our alumni join us for our two big events of the year on campus – Homecoming & Alumni Weekend – but we know it’s not always possible to coordinate schedules and travel plans to make it back at the same time as your former fraternity brothers, suitemates or ultimate frisbee squad. So we wanted to create a way for our alumni to connect with the College, no matter where or when they gather.

So we turned to our amazing graphic designer to create a design for an exclusive t-shirt, available only to alumni who participate in these “mini-reunions.” Then we gathered all of our favorite Hope goodies (mints! playing cards! pens!) and created passes for a meal at Phelps and use of the Dow. It turned out to be a pretty great pile of Hope swag, but we had to figure out a way to get to the location of the little reunions. Thanks to our love of online shopping, we fully recognized the joy receiving a box full of clothing in the mail can bring. We circled back to that same amazing graphic designer who whipped up a super cool box to ship off our goods in, and Reunion in a Box was born!

The Program
Whether the venue be Universal Studios, a cabin in the mountains of Colorado, the fairway of a golf course or a backyard full of babies and barbeque, we can help turn it into a Hope reunion!

Once you’ve made your plans to reconnect with your Hope crew, sign up to receive a Reunion in a Box using this form. We’ll need to know the date and location of your event, as well as the name, email address and t-shirt size of each of the alumni participants. Be sure to give us at least ten business days before your event to ensure we can get you the box in time.

We’d love for you to share photos and memories of your reunion on social media using #HopeReunions. Hopefully, other alumni in your networks will be inspired to participate in the program as well!

The Fine Print
Each alumnus is eligible to participate in a Reunion in a Box one time. The minimum number of attendees (including organizer) is three with a maximum of 20. Have more than 20 alum who want to get together? Email us and let us know!

We will either ship the box to you or hold it here in our office for you to pick up if your reunion happens to be in Holland. Quantities are limited, so order yours today!

Reunion in a Box materials are intended to be used at events whose primary focus is a gathering of Hope alumni.

Thoughts from a New Graduate

By Victoria Ward ’18

Graduation came so fast, and I was flooded with so many emotions all at once. I wasn’t sure which one was expected of me to display — the excitement, the sorrow, or the nerves. At a loss, I sat in the ocean of navy blue robes with a proud reflective smile painted across my face. As the long list of names was read, I lost myself in the sea of memories and accomplishments from my time at Hope.

It struck me hard as I looked at the faces that I had spent so much time getting to know over my college career. The eyes of strangers who had become my family and for some, back to strangers again. I had watched as the light in their eyes changed with life experiences as we grew together. I witnessed new lines form under their eyes that showed the impact of long nights awake studying, laughing, crying, and living together. Seeing the traces life had left across my loved ones reminded me how lucky I have been to have had them in my life. Time froze around me as I remembered that they would leave my life as quickly as they had entered it, and we’d be left to the mercy of texting and Skype until we would see each other again.

Shifting my thoughts, I compared who I am now versus how I always pictured myself on graduation day. While much changed, the principal characteristics still remained true. I still love beaches, languages, running around in the woods climbing trees, art and theatre. Most of my goals I had either accomplished or amended around my ever-changing life. I was more invested in my theatre degree than I expected I could be and more confident in it as well. Theatre is a difficult field (like many of the arts) because there are a lot of unknowns in the profession. People outside of the craft often ask the age old question: “Oh you’re a theatre major… What are you going to do with that?”

I started my first two years at Hope pursuing acting. I loved the art, and I wanted nothing more than to always have the family that is made during a production. The part of a liberal arts education that I love is it teaches you the versatility of the arts. As a theatre major, I was required to take classes in acting, technical theatre, design, and directing, which ultimately makes a better theatre artist regardless of the specific field because you learn how to speak everyone else’s language. It was through the other classes where I discovered lighting.

Lighting is the combination of all my passions blending together into a playground of creativity and expression. Once I started, I knew I had found my calling. My passion in life is bringing people together through shared experiences.

“If you can bring people of all backgrounds and classes together in one room and get them to laugh and cry together and experience being human it helps them realize that we’re not all that different on the inside. On a human level, we can come together and create something beautiful that makes you feel for a change.” Nathan Allen – Director

This quote from a former director led me to create my manifesto. Even if a theatrical production doesn’t change everyone who leaves, I want to help remind people of their humanity during the time they were in the theatre. Compassion is vital, and theatre can open and expand our minds to find common ground, giving us an opportunity to celebrate our differences. This is the same reason I love languages.

I started learning French in seventh grade and instantly felt a connection to the language and culture. I continued through high school, and it seemed only fitting to get involved in the French Department at Hope. There were definitely times during my college career where I struggled and questioned my choice, but I wanted to stick it out. After many sleepless nights of debating if studying abroad was going to be worth it, I finally decided on applying to the CIEE program in Rennes, France. My confidence in the language wasn’t going to grow until I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone. On January 3, 2017, I got on a plane to France to start the biggest adventure of my life.

For me, the first couple years of college was about finding new parts of who I was. My time in France became about finally putting all of those pieces together. A few weeks into my time abroad, I began to feel very shaken and stripped of my cultural identity. I am someone who usually thinks out loud to process, and without my newly made Hope family right there or my theatre to run away to when I felt lost, I finally had the chance for proper introspection. Being alone and having time to think gave me the chance to recreate who I was. I spent a great deal of time reading philosophical and religious texts in the park by my homestay and truly pondering my beliefs. I became more confident and comfortable in being alone and being with my thoughts again. I branched out of my comfort zone and let my curiosity guide me for the first time in my life, and I loved it.

Hope has a motto of making its students “global citizens,” and I have always respected this ambitious goal. It wasn’t until I was completely immersed in a culture so similar yet so different from my own that I realized just what being a global citizen meant. I came to understand how complicated human interactions can be when you add cultural, religious, and political differences into the mix of varying opinions. I had never before felt so tested in my faith and patience than I did in France and again after I returned to the states.

My new global view has shifted drastically in my understanding of how humans function. I could feel where it was easier to stick with what was familiar and safe instead of embracing the unknown that is other ways of doing life. I felt that urge to quit and retreat to what I knew, but I refused to be discouraged in my dream of bringing people together peacefully. If I could manage to put my upbringing aside to at least hear how another person lives their life, I could be living proof that it is possible to extend that hand and find common ground in a time where our world is at such unrest. My time at Hope was not only where I gained my scholastic education, but also where I learned more about humanity. I lost myself and found myself more times than I could have imagined. I believe I was meant to end up at Hope to find myself and to strengthen my character before going out into the world as a working, influential adult.

Today I feel prepared for life after college. Having a study abroad experience taught me how to go with the unexpected and take things as they come and how to live in the moment and let go of the anxieties that stem from the unknown; something that I, as a planner, would never do. I now know that I can survive thousands of miles away from my comforts and adapt to a new life and be okay. Hope helped me learn and establish a solid foundation for my career and build networks before I had even graduated. My scholarships and support from the Hope faculty and community have inspired me to continue giving back to this incredible legacy in any way that I can.

Looking back to the little freshman me, I never could have guessed in my wildest dreams how my Hope story has played out after it has all been said and done. I never thought I’d end up doing technical theatre instead of acting, and I never imagined my time abroad would have been quite as impactful on my life as it was. I have gone from a young, ambitious girl to a worldly, confident young woman in these four years. There are no words for how thankful I am for my opportunities as well as my hardships that have come my way and shaped me into who I am today. The life lessons are invaluable. I’m excited to step into the working world knowing I’m well prepared to succeed and that I have a support network cheering me on.