Frances Traisman ’89 Gets Ready for MLB Opening Day in Tokyo, Japan

Joe DiMaggio once said that Opening Day for Major League Baseball is “like a birthday party when you’re a kid.” For generations, the day has symbolized a fresh start and a sure sign of spring. This year, for one Hope College alumna, opening day will start early. Really early.

On March 20 at 2:35 AM Pacific Daylight Time, eight days and several hours before the rest of the league, Frances Schrock ’89 Traisman will be cheering on the Seattle Mariners as they play an international opener in the Tokyo Dome against the Oakland Athletics.

The Mariners have been connected to Japan since Nintendo purchased a majority of the team in 1992. They have had Japanese players on the roster every year since 1996. That is the same year that Frances Traisman was hired. Now as Senior Vice President of Sales, the former Hope College English major oversees business development and revenue generation through ticket sales, corporate partnerships, sponsorships, radio broadcast sales, customer engagement and analytics.

Frances Schrock ’89 Traisman

After graduation in 1989, Frances spent a year in China teaching English to college students in Hangzhou. A fellow teacher she met there encouraged her to move to Washington, D.C. She eventually landed a ticket sales job at the US Senior Open golf tournament at Congressional Country Club. She loved it. After the tournament, she and her husband, Cliff, packed up a moving truck and their yellow Labrador, Tuco, and headed for Washington (state this time). There, they started a family and their new careers.

Now in her 23rd year with the Seattle Mariners, Frances shares that she enjoys the benefits of her liberal arts education every day. “In our ever-changing world, having broad knowledge of a variety of subjects has made it easier to navigate the changes,” says Traisman who was part of Sigma Sigma and the Vienna Summer School during her Hope days. “Whether evaluating capital improvement projects, researching business development opportunities, or making sales presentations, I draw on a variety of skills and experiences gained at Hope.”

The connections she made while at Hope have also been instrumental in determining where she is today. Her travels to China were at the suggestion of a fellow Hope graduate, and she was introduced to her husband by one of her best friends from Hope. While she has been geographically separated from Hope for a long time, the Hope community continues to play a strong and supportive role in her life.

“Smart people with a curious nature and a broad familiarity of how the world is connected are key – and those are the type of graduates Hope produces.”

As she thinks about today’s students, she says “there are tremendous opportunities in sports and entertainment, especially in the world of data analytics. While it’s important to have someone to write code and structure data, it is as important, if not more so, to have people who can bring the data to life and use it to recommend improvements. Smart people with a curious nature and a broad familiarity of how the world is connected are key – and those are the type of graduates Hope produces.”

Frances’s advice to students interested in a career like hers is to do your research and talk to as many people as you can. Many opportunities exist in sports management, you just need to find the one that fits you.

Wake up early, brew some coffee and tune in to the opening games in Japan on March 20 & 21 on ESPN at 5:35 AM EDT.

Hope Alumni Bring Unique Perspectives to the Tech Industry

One of the best parts of my job is meeting some of Hope’s 33,000 alumni on their home turf. With graduates living in all 50 states and over 80 countries around the world, the opportunities for connections are endless. Whether it’s entrepreneurs from Nairobi, newly found connections in Tokyo or young alumni making their mark in Chicago, it is inspiring to meet alumni as they pursue lives of leadership and service in a global society.

This exciting professional privilege reached new heights during a trip last fall to California and Washington State. In part because of a new partnership between the office of Alumni Engagement and the new Boerigter Center for Calling and Career, my goal was to establish connections with alumni in technology to share with current students on campus.

We have over 1,750 alumni living in states with Pacific shores. As you might expect, a fair number, over 600 in fact, live in the San Francisco and Seattle areas. Many of them, also as you might expect, work in the tech industry. This was the focus of my trip.

I had a great visit with Eva at Joanie’s Cafe. Her story of creating community within her field is inspiring.
I had a great visit with Eva at Joanie’s Cafe. Her story of creating community within her field is inspiring.

After Lyft rides during the first 24 hours in the Bay Area in two Lexuses, a Mercedes and a BMW, I knew I was not in Holland, Michigan anymore. My first appointment was in downtown Palo Alto with Eva Gaumond ’90. She has had an accomplished career as a user experience (UX) leader, often fostering collaboration and utilizing empathy she learned as a psychology major at Hope to get to the heart of user needs. After moving to the area and wishing there were more professional development opportunities in her field, she simply created them herself, co-founding a now 2,400 member non-profit professional UX organization from the ground up. It was an impressive start to my day.

Facebook’s new headquarters, MPK20.
Part of Facebook’s new headquarters, MPK21.

After breakfast, I made the short six mile trip out to Facebook’s new headquarters, MPK20. Designed by world-famous architect Frank Gehry, the 430,000-square-foot space, spread over 22 acres, is LEED-certified and boasts a 9-acre green roof (complete with work cabanas) and underground parking lot. While entering this compound of an office building was a unique experience, what made it even more meaningful was connecting with a friend now working inside.

I first met David Moore ’10 when he was an intern in the alumni office. From there he joined the Canadian digital marketing and e-commerce team at Gordon Food Service in Grand Rapids before moving to Philadelphia to work at a start-up using machine learning to personalize websites and apps. Now David counts himself fortunate to live in San Francisco where he works in product management on video products at Facebook. We were joined for lunch by another Hope alumnus, Josh Metzler ’99, who has been a software engineer at Facebook for the last seven years. A chemistry and religion major while at Hope, Josh is a self-taught coder who has now been working for the world’s largest social media company for longer than most of its 25,000 employees.

Facebook employees and Hope College alumni, David Moore ’10 and Josh Metzler ’99, take a break to talk about their Hope College experiences.
Facebook employees and Hope College alumni, David Moore ’10 and Josh Metzler ’99, take a break to talk about their Hope College experiences.

The Indian cuisine at Facebook is legit. Over naan and tandoori chicken we discussed how a liberal arts background has shaped how they solve problems at work. They shared that Hope gave them the freedom and supportive community to be curious. Then David told me this story: A friend of his visited during a semester off at Harvard and attended a class at Hope with him. Afterwards the friend remarked, “that was a better class than I’ve experienced yet in Cambridge – intimate, thoughtful, engaging.” At the time, David wasn’t sure he believed him. Now, after applying his Hope experience in Menlo Park, he thinks he does.

“Hope gave them the freedom and supportive community to be curious.”

Influenced by courses like creative writing and religion, these Facebook staffers talked about technology as being about understanding the deeper needs people have – some they can share, some that they can’t. Their work is focused on bringing the world closer together and understanding people’s perspectives. This way of thinking not only makes for a better interface on an app, but also helps to figure out how machine learning can help identify bad actors.

Golden Gate Bridge
After an evening enjoying some of the sights in San Francisco, I spent the next day connecting with alumni at Google and Tesla. At the Googleplex in Mountain View, a gathering of Hope alumni Googlers met over breakfast. In a testament to the longevity and relevancy of a liberal arts background, we had graduates from each of the last five consecutive decades represented.

Crossing the commencement stage back in Holland with dates ranging from 1979 to 2018, these product directors, software engineers and recruiting coordinators compared notes on what can help a graduate of this decade stand out. The consensus was that students should articulate the soft skills they have developed through a liberal arts education — skills like teamwork, problem solving and communication — alongside demonstrated hard skills developed through experiences like coding competitions, proficiency in programming and scripting languages.

“Students should articulate the soft skills they have developed through a liberal arts education — skills like teamwork, problem solving and communication.”

Google employees outside the Googleplex headquarters.
Karl Rasche ’00 (Senior Software Engineer), Ron Heiby ’79 (Technical Program Manager), Chris Turkstra ’93 (Product Director for Google Assistant), Douglas Van Wieren ’88 (Software and Site Reliability Engineer), and Josias Sanon ’18 (Recruiting Coordinator).

Later in the day, at a new Tesla office building in North Bay, you could sense the fast pace of innovation. There I connected with Blair Williams ’10 and Randy Johnson ’07. They shared how the undergraduate research program and international exchange programs sparked their interest in language and culture and opened the door for graduate experiences at places like Stanford, which in turn opened doors in Silicon Valley. They also shared how a liberal arts background has helped them to be well-rounded and not just technical. Through experiences at Hope they were able to wrestle with philosophical, societal, and spiritual questions, improve writing and communication skills, and becoming well prepared for working on cross-functional teams. The icing on the cake was the personal relationships with research advisors and senior seminar professors that turned into personal friendships which have shaped their lives in immeasurable ways.

“A liberal arts background has helped them to be well-rounded and not just technical.”

Blair Williams '10 and Randy Johnson '07 at Tesla.
Blair Williams ’10 and Randy Johnson ’07 at Tesla.

After two hours in flight over the peaks of Mt. St Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier, I landed in Seattle. Among other alumni and employer connections, I met Thao Le ’11. Today she is a senior financial analyst at Amazon. Just a few years ago she was an international student at Hope College from Vietnam. While at Hope she majored in accounting and had internships at The Stow Company and Perrigo. Her first job after Hope was with Deloitte in Seattle working on an audit team. Traveling frequently while working with international teams at Amazon, she now uses leadership development and cross-cultural skills honed at Hope as a member of Mortar Board, Phelps Scholars and Hope Asian Perspective Association. We toured a new Amazon Go store and The Spheres, Amazon’s innovative downtown hub that brings a direct link to nature to Amazon employees. With her office right down the street, Thao shared that she enjoys working and visiting this unique home to more than 40,000 plants from the cloud forest regions of over 30 countries.

Thao Le ’11 shows off The Spheres at Amazon in downtown Seattle.

Once I was back on campus the next week, it was time to share lessons learned from these alumni with colleagues and students. Their stories can serve both as inspiration for future generations of Hope College students and for other alumni to get involved.

If you are interested in sharing your own career expertise, hosting a student or hiring a Hope graduate, complete the form at hope.edu/impact and a member of our team will be in touch with next steps.

One Big Weekend Photos and a Chance to Share Your Feedback

On October 19-21 we had over 40 events throughout the combined Homecoming and Family Weekend with over a thousand alumni, families and friends celebrating their common connection through Hope College.

If you were one of the many on campus, we want to know more about your experience. Your input helps us make each year better than the last. Please take this short survey. We will pick three survey responses as winners of a $100 Hope College Bookstore gift certificate.

You are also always welcome to ask questions or share feedback with us by emailing alumni@hope.edu or parents@hope.edu.

We also hope that you enjoy some of the photo galleries posted since the event:

Leecox Omollo ’02 Creates Kikwetu Coffee with Lessons Learned at Hope

“Awaken your senses.” That is the goal of Leecox Omollo, a 2002 Hope College graduate and software engineer turned coffee entrepreneur.

When he arrived at Hope from his hometown of Nairobi in the fall of 1998, he didn’t like coffee but loved the excitement and “vibe on campus” among international students. That is, until winter. Classes became harder, the weather harsher and the stress of second semester began to overwhelm. He found solace in the Fried Center on campus.

As a sophomore, he drew energy, if not yet inspiration, from coffee. At first he concealed its “unwelcome taste” using sugar. He embraced it purely as a stimulant to propel him through a rigorous schedule of work and school.

He tells the story of how that all changed when he stopped at a new coffee shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He finished his first cup of what he called the most flavorful and aromatic coffee before hurrying back to the counter for a refill. “Where is this coffee from?”,  he asked the owner behind the counter. “It’s from Kenya,” came the reply. He was dumbfounded. Strangely, leaving Kenya had allowed him to fully appreciate Kenyan coffee.

He went on to graduate with a major in computer science from Hope College in 2002, a masters in computer science from Grand Valley State University and a MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Chicago, where he resides today.

Leecox and Martha during their visit to campus in February of 2018.

By the time he met his wife, Martha, in 2004, he could share with her his interest in coffee. They visited many coffee shops in many cities, met lots of interesting people and witnessed first-hand the power of coffee shops to connect people and elevate communities. The idea of starting a coffee business slowly began to form in each of their minds. Kikwetu Kenya Coffee Company was finally born in 2014.

Kikwetu is a Swahili word that  translates to “our home”. During a recent visit to campus for a presentation at a Global Coffee Hour hosted by the Fried Center for Global Engagement, Leecox shared how the values of Kikwetu were informed from the home and foundation he found at Hope:

Invigorating
He shared that the experience he had at Hope, while not without challenges, was full of passion and energy. It was invigorating in mind, body and spirit. At Kikwetu, he hopes to build on the values of quality, invitation and the experience of being fully alive as a human.

Global
He believes that differences between cultures and people should not be viewed as threatening, but should rather be highlighted and celebrated. The importance of global connections and a broad worldview are values he says he learned at Hope and wants to continue in his work.

Kikwetu hosts Kenyan runners at the Chicago Marathon in 2016.

Connecting
He also shared that he wants to build a company around the understanding that real connections between human beings matter. He believes that coffee and tea, when properly unleashed, have a unique power to connect individuals and communities around the world. He draws inspiration around the connections he made with his host family at Hope and the relationships he has developed with local farmers in Kenya.

To learn more about Kikwetu and their single origin coffee from central Kenya, follow them on Facebook or check out their website.

A Tradition of Travel Gets a Boost

Alumni tour the streets of Vienna during a travel program in 1965.

Hope College began hosting educational tours for alumni and friends in the 1960s. The integration of learning with Hope faculty and the opportunity to connect with friends from the Hope community have always set these programs apart.

Over the past few years we have had increasing momentum for lifelong learning and travel. After two recent sell-out trips and wait lists almost as large as the trips themselves, we have decided to officially expand our offerings and launch a new Hope College Global Travel Program.

In addition to responding to the interests of alumni and friends, there are other strategic reasons to grow this program. Hope’s strategic plan calls for programs to expand faculty and staff cross-cultural perspectives, increase access to off-campus study for students and build a stronger network of lifelong relationships among alumni and friends of the college.

If you are a Hope graduate, parent, Hope Academy of Senior Professionals (HASP) member or friend of the college and have a desire to travel, learn, expand your worldview and connect with the Hope community — then this Global Travel Program is for you!

Every single traveler on our last program said that they would travel with Hope College again and that they would recommend the program to a friend.

UPCOMING TRIPS

Happy Travelers
Happy travelers at the end of their recent adventure in Tanzania.

We custom-design our programs relying on the expertise of our faculty, alumni hosts and staff.  Just like Hope College students studying abroad, you will gain new insights about the places to which you travel and return home with greater knowledge and understanding of our world.

We are moving from a program every few years to 2-3 programs each year. Destinations in the next year include: a Tanzania Safari (back by popular demand), a Discovering the Balkans River Cruise (in partnership with HASP but open to all) and a New Zealand Adventure.

MEET THE TEAM

Pat Van Wylen, pictured with her husband Dave, on an international adventure.

Pat Van Wylen recently joined the Alumni and Family Engagement team as the global travel coordinator. Previously, Pat worked in St. Olaf’s College’s International and Off-Campus Studies Office, organizing and co-leading a variety of international study abroad programs for St. Olaf College students and alumni. More recently she co-led alumni and family travel programs. In addition to having a passion for learning through travel, she also promotes health and wellness and has taught Health Dynamics at Hope.

100% of travelers on our last program said that the experience met or exceeded their expectations.

GLOBAL SCHOLARS FUND

A group of Hope students hike on the Iberian Peninsula during a recent off-campus study program.

Participants in this program will also be supporting today’s Hope students as they step beyond borders and connect with the global community. Proceeds from the Global Travel Program, as well as gifts from individual donors, support the Global Scholars Fund for student off-campus study grants.

SIGN UP AND SHARE YOUR IDEAS

If one of these trips doesn’t fit your travel goals or schedule, you can sign up to receive updates on future programs and share ideas for new times of the year and new destinations. You can also share photos from past trips if you have already traveled with Hope. Email your photos and suggestions to vanwylenp@hope.edu. We will use the feedback to plan for the future and we will share photos on our new online gallery.

At Hope College, we understand that the world is much bigger than the few blocks our campus sits on. Join us and become a student of the world.

What Comes Next? A Snapshot of Life After Hope

On Sunday, May 6, nearly 700 members of the Hope College Class of 2018 will walk across the stage at Commencement and begin the “lives of leadership and service” the mission of their alma mater beckons them to. But what exactly does this look like? Where do all these graduates go? What do they do?

Anecdotally, we know that Hope College alumni live out their callings in ways as unique as they are. From writing about race to eradicating polio. From winemaking in NYC to brewing in Michigan. From performing at the Oscars to Inventing America. From baseball strike zones to Superbowl flags thrown. From Peace Corps placements to global health equity. From cyber spying to wildlife photographing. While these individual stories are powerful examples of Hope graduates making a difference in the world, a quantitative analysis of life after Hope tells a powerful story as well.

Members of the Class of 2017, encouraged by faculty, prepare to walk in Commencement.

Take the Class of 2017 for example. Within six months of graduating from Hope:

  • 94% were in the workforce or graduate school.
  • 86% of those employed full-time were employed in their field of study.
  • 80% said they had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams.
  • 96% participated in experiential learning opportunities, including internships, off-campus study and research.
  • Of those in graduate school, 85% were in their first choice.

Read a full report of the 2017 Graduate Survey.

Members of the Class of 2007 are led by faculty through campus on graduation day.

While it is important to get a great start right after college, we know that the true value of a Hope education is how it influences lives over a longer period of time. In this spirit, we also study graduate outcomes for alumni a decade after Commencement. Our ten-year graduate survey, most recently conducted with the Class of 2007, shows that:

  • Ten years after graduating, alumni report that the top three factors that have helped them secure employment are academic major, the value of a Hope degree and work experience. Only 1.2% are not employed and looking for a job.
  • 94% said their professors cared about them as a person and 64% said they had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams.
  • 94% report being satisfied or very satisfied with their social well being, 93% with what they feel their purpose is in life, 89% with their job and 87% with their health.
  • The average salary of $69,500 is in the top 20% for annual income of 32 year olds in the United States.
  • 45% have completed a graduate degree. 86% of those that went to graduate school attended their first choice school.

We look forward to celebrating at Commencement this weekend and can’t wait to see how each member of the Class of 2018 turns their own Hope College education into a unique and meaningful life after college. Now and in the future,  they are agents of hope who live faithfully into their vocations. They make a difference in the world.

 

Alumni and Students Find Kinship through Turbulence and Hope

Each spring, as tulips begin to emerge and before tourists descend on Holland, alumni from around the world return to their alma mater for Alumni Weekend (photos from April 27-28 coming soon).

There are many highlights. Reunions for five classes and the Fifty Year Circle reconnect classmates on a campus where much has changed, but somehow much as stayed the same. Alumni applaud student accomplishments on playing fields and in concert halls. Distinguished alumni return to be honored for lives of leadership and service. And, in the sacred space of Dimnent Memorial Chapel on Saturday afternoon, Allison Utting, a Hope College senior, addressed the 50th Reunion Class of 1968 with the following speech:

People like to say that history repeats itself. However, I am a part of the small, but correct minority that believes history does not repeat itself. Rather, it rhymes. Certain themes and attitudes cycle through the generations, manifesting themselves over and over again, but never in the same way twice. As a history education major here at Hope, I am accustomed to tracking these rhythmic cycles and exploring them with my students. Perhaps, as a result of this, or of my “old soul”, I feel a certain kinship with your generation. Both the 1960s and the 2010s, the decades in which your generation and mine came of age, will be remembered as turbulent times in our nation’s history. The year of 1968 in particular, the year of your graduation, fits this description well. In 1968, university students across the nation protested the Vietnam war. Today, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and others are marching on the nation’s capitol calling for an end to school shootings. In 1968, athletes raised their fists atop the Olympic podium in Mexico City during the National Anthem. Today, athletes are choosing to kneel on football fields across the nation. In 1968, riots erupted at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Today, oratorical riots are commonplace in cyberspace and on cable news. In 1968, you suffered through the assassinations of not one, but two prominent leaders. Today, thankfully, we have not seen such violence, but do continue to see the increasing vilification of the “other side.” Both you and I entered our adult lives at a time of uncertainty and change. Regardless of your political leanings, this has undoubtedly shaped the way we came to view the world and our role in it. In this, we are similar.

But, there is another thing that binds us inextricably together and that is Hope’s firm foundation in the historic Christian faith and its unwavering commitment to producing globally minded citizens who are ready to go out and use their education to be of service to the world. Amidst the changing times, I am thankful for the steadiness of Hope. This is not to say that Hope is stagnant, in fact, much has changed since you were here. Van Wylen Library opened in 1989 thereby replacing Van Zoeren which has been converted into an academic hall I frequent often. The beautiful Lubbers Hall became home to humanities and social sciences while the A. Paul Schaap Science Center was completed to reflect and support Hope’s outstanding reputation in the sciences and undergraduate research. The demolition of Nykerk Hall (may it rest in peace) helped make way for the beautiful Bultman Student Center where students fifty years from now may continue to join together in fun and fellowship at Hope. Chapel services are no longer required, but every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, you will hear the joyous sounds of hundreds of Hope students and faculty bursting forth from these walls in worship, just as they have always done.

Today, Hope is as committed to its founding principles as it has ever been. And that is the magic of Hope. That is what allows every student of Hope, young and old, odd year and even year, to find common ground in their shared experience. It is a place where mistakes can be made and forgiveness can be learned. It is a place where hard conversations can be had and ideas can be challenged. It is a place where loves are found and passions are pursued. It is place where all students can explore their calling and their faith in an environment that is nurturing and personal. Like many that came before me, I discovered who I am, and whose I am along the shores of Lake Michigan, under the pine grove trees, and in these pews. And for that, I will forever be thankful to Hope.

So, as history continues to roll through its rhythmic cycles, let us all find comfort in the steadiness of Hope, the lessons we learned here, and in the never-changing love and grace of God to whom we owe everything. For, we are the people of hope and people of hope. Spera in Deo. Thank you.

 

Hope Students and Alumni Connect in Japan

Classrooms may have been quiet on campus last week during spring break, but learning continued around the world. Specifically, experiential learning and alumni networking as part of a series of events in Japan.

On March 24, Hideo Yamazaki ’76, Alumni Association Board of Directors member,  worked with staff and volunteers to host 76 guests at a Hope College Tokyo regional event.  The outreach is part of a continued tradition of building community in Japan, with four major events in the last few years. At the events, former Japanese exchange students are welcomed into the Hope community with the presentation of an Alumni Association certificate. Twenty joined the ranks at this particular event.

Also present at the event were parents, friends and students, including the Baker Scholars. Led by professor Steve VanderVeen, the Baker Scholars connected with a variety of companies, including Amway Japan, during a nine day visit in the country. These relationships have been a continuing tradition as well, with multiple student groups connecting with alumni at the company through the years.

“Their engagement and questions showed that they were truly the best of the best – not only at Hope, but among U.S. college students.   Thank you for sending them our way.” -An Amway Japan executive following the student visit.

If you are interested in learning more about recent international alumni connections, please contact Jim Van Heest, Senior Regional Development Director.

Cheers to international travel and experiential learning!

Hope College Graduate to Officiate Super Bowl…Again

Before we hear Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth announce the starting line ups for Super Bowl LII, before the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots make their opening drives, before Justin Timberlake performs at half-time and before we tune in for 30-second commercials worth over $5 million each, Perry Paganelli ’80 will be somewhere in the depths of U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis lacing up his black turf shoes and putting on his zebra-striped #46 uniform.

Back Judge Perry Paganelli ’80 #46 follows the action in the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers against the New York Jets at Heinz Field on October 9, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

Perhaps at this moment he will be thinking about how far he has come from history and education classes, baseball practices and football games on the campus of Hope College. Either way, it won’t be the first time he’s prepared to officiate football’s biggest game. In fact, making calls on the NFL’s biggest stage is a family affair.

In 2007, Perry officiated with his younger brother, Carl, in Super Bowl XLI in Miami, when Tony Dungy’s Colts beat Lovie Smith’s Bears for the Lombardi Trophy. It was the first time in NFL history that two brothers had been assigned to officiate a Super Bowl game. Yet a third brother, Dino, also officiates in the NFL. Paganelli’s father, Carl Sr., also had a distinguished football officiating career and has trained more than 30 current NFL officials.

Perry Paganelli ’80 pictured in his junior class photo from the 1979 Milestone yearbook. (Photo by Hope College Milestone)

At Hope, Perry played football and baseball for the Flying Dutchmen while preparing for a career as a teacher. During his senior season, he led the football team in pass interceptions and achieved All-MIAA honors as a designated hitter in baseball. As an alumnus and varsity letter winner with a career in professional sports, he is one of Hope’s notable H-Club members.

The Paganellis started their collegiate officiating careers in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA), of which Hope College is a member. Perry, who resides in the Grand Rapids area and had a teaching and coaching career at Rogers High School, has been an NFL official for 19 seasons. Super Bowl Sunday will be his 300th career game.

Perry Paganelli ’80 poses with the 1979 Hope College Flying Dutchmen baseball team in the back row, fourth from the right. (Photo by Hope College Milestone)

Tune in to see this impressive Hope graduate in action on February 4, 2018 on NBC at 6:30 pm ET.

You can also read about another alumnus making calls under pressure in the big leagues. MLB umpire DJ Reyburn ’99 was featured in the April 2017 issue of News from Hope College.

Hope Alumnus Fights for a Polio-Free World

Jalaa’ Abdelwahab ’97 during a return visit to Hope College.

Each step of Jalaa’ Abdelwahab’s journey in life has uniquely prepared him for this next one. . . eradicating polio.

Growing up in Ramallah, Palestine, he remembers being influenced by witnessing the public health hazards created by nearby Israeli settlements and within Palestinian refugee camps. He attended classes in secret as occupation forces denied young adults like him the right to an education. After he finished high school, he secured a scholarship to Hope College.

At first he wanted to be a doctor. Influenced by his upbringing, he had a deep desire to promote equality in society. However, early in his studies he realized that he wanted to find solutions for large-scale health problems, rather than work with just one patient at a time.

Jalaa’ credits his professors for helping him nurture diverse interests – from biology to painting and poetry to acting. He also grew from his involvement in activities like a semester abroad in Australia, the Model Arab League, the International Relations Club, and serving as a resident assistant. Each new endeavor gave him an opportunity to hear the stories of students from different backgrounds and to share his experiences with them.

“Hope College helped me develop a comprehensive package for life. It helped me develop very strong academic discipline, but it also gave me room to build and express social and artistic skills.”

Jalaa’ graduated from Hope with a degree in biology and biochemistry in 1997. Passionate about establishing communities founded on principles of equality and health, he pursued his Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology at the University of Michigan. He then joined the Public Health Prevention Service fellowship program working with the Center for Disease Control and UNICEF and became involved in eradicating polio and measles, starting first at the WHO African Regional Office in Harare, Zimbabwe. He also worked for two years with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on epidemiological investigations of tuberculosis in the city. Upon completing his fellowship in 2003, he joined CDC as a Public Health Advisor in the Polio Eradication Branch providing technical support to Egypt and India.

Jalaa’ Abdelwahab ’97 inspects a vaccine with national staff in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. (Photo by IES Abroad)

But it was on a field assignment with the polio eradication program in South Sudan during the civil war that he discovered his calling. In an interview with IES Abroad, he shared, “that experience was beyond anything I could describe. I realized how noble and simple the goal for polio eradication is: once eradication is achieved, every single person will live without the threat of death or disability from polio. It is the definition of equity—something I have always dreamed of seeing and experiencing growing up in Palestine. I felt committed and inspired, and I embarked on a journey to fight this disease in all corners of our planet.”

A child receives a polio immunization in Northern India. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux)

Today, he coordinates with UNICEF, WHO, CDC, Rotary International, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to work closely with country offices, regional offices and government counterparts to implement strategies to stop poliovirus transmission in the most complex settings around the world. They conduct mass vaccination campaigns during short periods of time to vaccinate every single child with two drops of polio vaccine in an effort to wipe out the virus once and for all.

They are getting close. In the past 20 years, the number of cases has fallen by more than 99 percent. In 1988, there were 350,000 cases of polio each year, affecting 125 countries. In 2017 there were only 16 cases in two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan. Jalaa’ recently discussed this as a panelist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and was featured in an article on polio eradication in TIME Magazine.

Jalaa’ has several scientific publications to his name, including on tuberculosis and polio as well as published poetry. In the midst of working to eradicate diseases around the world, he has stayed actively connected to his alma mater. In 2005, he delivered the annual A. J. Muste Memorial Lecture and sat down with Hope students to discuss their vocational goals. Jalaa’ returned to campus to speak at the college’s Critical Issues Symposium in 2008. In 2010, he returned again to connect with students and community members as a recipient of the Young Alumni Award.
“The best feeling is when you reach a child who hasn’t been vaccinated. You know that this beautiful human being in front of you deserves this protection just as much as any other child in the world. Once we realize we’re living in a global village and we should all be treated as equal, we all benefit.”
Jalaa’ Abdelwahab ’’97 was drawn to a career in global public health because of the opportunity it offered to make a difference. He is pictured with a child in Merka, Somalia in 2006.

Thanks to the incredible dedication of influential figures such as Jalaa’ Abdelwahab, estimates indicate that not a single person may suffer from polio in 2018 and the years to follow.

Anna Gibbs ’20 and Scott Travis ’06 contributed to this post with information from earlier work by News from Hope College and IES Abroad.