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!

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:

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.

Hope Alums and Students Make Their Mark on HSRT

From the managing director to a teaching artist to a scriptwriter to Oscar Madison, Hope College alumni (and current students too!) have been making their mark on this year’s highly entertaining and successful season of Hope Summer Repertory Theatre. This is not a new phenomenon; Hope theatre majors and professionals have long had great representation behind and on the HSRT stage. But this year, HSRT’s 47th, 23 Hope students and alums make up almost 20 percent of the company.

From left to right: Front Row: Brynne Fritjofson, Anne Bakker, Rachel Dion, Emmie Sandstedt, Cara Maas; Second Row: Saem Cho, Gracen Barth, Mikayla Contreras , Teresa Cameon, Kierney Johnson, Megan Clark, Mollie Murk; Third Row: Ben Douma, Ken Chamberlain, Kenny Cole, Nils Fritjofson, Griffin Baer, Reagan Chesnut, Riley Wilson, Eric Van Tassell. Not pictured: Chip Duford, Paul Anderson, Claire Bouwkamp

While HSRT’s new Artistic Director Lenny Banovez hires a majority of HSRT cast at national auditions in Memphis and St. Louis during the spring, Managing Director Anne Bakker ’85 is also cognizant of the quality of talent she has right here at home. She attributes that to Hope’s strong department of theatre and its commitment to educate and prepare young talent for professional theatre. “Our theatre department has always been integral to the success of HSRT,” says Bakker. “The team effort between the two programs (academic and professional) is a special one.”

Longtime HSRT cast member Chip Duford ’90 and relative HSRT newcomer Mollie Murk ’16 share Bakker’s sentiments. Though two-and-a-half decades separate their Hope educational experiences, a common thread of Hope educational appreciation runs between them. Both started at HSRT as acting interns and both now are members of its professional ranks — Duford, in his 25th season with HSRT, is an Actor’s Equity performer and Murk, in her third, is the head of education.

Chip Duford as Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple.

Duford started out as a pre-med major at Hope, but “that lasted three seconds I think,” he laughs. He received great encouragement from professor emeritus Dr. John Tammi and visiting visiting HSRT Shakespeare and voice coach, Peggy Loft, formerly of the Juilliard School, to consider a career in theatre after he performed in several Hope productions as an undergrad. By his junior year, it was official; he was a theatre major and interning for HSRT. “I feel like I was able to discover myself at Hope,” says Duford.

Mollie Murk

Murk, on the other hand, always knew she wanted to be involved in Hope theatre. As both a theatre and dance major, she involved herself in as many aspects of theatre productions as she could — primarily acting and choreography but also costume design, teaching, dramaturgy, directing, and playwriting. “I just would love to shout out Michelle (Bombe, director of theatre) and Daina (Robins, chairperson of theatre). They create an environment where they really believe in their students and they find us to be capable of things that we never knew that we would be. The professors always encouraged us to take risks and challenge ourselves. No opportunity is ever handed to you as a Hope student— you have to work hard to seek opportunities out, which is exactly how I’ve learned the theatre industry at large works too.”

Erik Durham on the set of Dragon Pack Snack Attack.

And then there’s Erik Durham ’13. Not technically a member of the company, Durham is one of the main reasons why the children’s play, Dragon Pack Snack Attack, made its professional debut this summer as part of the HSRT lineup. While a theatre major at Hope, Durham needed a project for his capstone Theatre 490 class. So he chose to write a musical play based upon the children’s book of the same name, Dragon Pack Snack Attack published in the mid-1990s by none other than two more Hope alums, Jeff Grooters ’92 and Joel Schoon-Tanis ’89 who also, by the way, created the art of this summer’s promotional poster. Durham took the 15-page book with little dialogue but cute content and made it into a 50-minute play with nine songs. “I probably read that book front to back 50 times trying to process what I was going to do with it,” Durham explains. “It was a very daunting task, but Daina had persuaded me to go deeper and pushed me to do something new. It was a very humbling process.”

Dragon Pack premiered at Hope as a student production in 2013, and then it sat. “For five years, I had it in my back pocket,” Durham says, “though I had tried a couple times to pull it out for HSRT to consider.”

With Bakker and Associate Managing Director Reagan Chesnut ’09 at HSRT, Dragon Snack was revived for the professional stage this summer. Musical director Alex Thompson took the songs Durham had “written” and created sheet music with vocal arrangements for them. “I said, ‘Hey, I just want it to be very transparent. I’m not a composer,’” confides Durham. “All of my original music came from my singer/songwriter background so it was all very chordal with some improvisation. He was like, ‘I got this.’ Now he’s transformed the music into something ten times better than what I ever envisioned.”

“The theater itself becomes our home, so sharing that home with others is an exhilarating experience for each company member.”

HSRT has a few weeks to go, abut energy remains as strong and high as it did on opening night back on June 13. Hope affiliation aside, making beloved or new characters and stories come to life for two hours is the joy and challenge for anyone in cast and crew. For the audience, both forgetting and thinking about the world around them is imperative to well-performed and well-meaning theatre. HSRT ever has this in mind.

“I love coming back is it’s a unique theater experience here in HSRT,” says Duford, whose home base is Grand Blanc, Michigan and who performs annually in “A Christmas Carol” for Meadowbrook Theater in Rochester. “We perform in a thrust stage space with the audience surrounding us. Plus, we’re in repertory so we have the challenge of performing a different role every night. (This summer, Duford is Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple, Uncle Henry/the royal gatekeeper in The Wiz.) Over the years, it’s been those unique challenges for an actor plus the fun of being here at Hope Summer Repertory Theatre that brings me back.”

“I just love how the HSRT company each summer really becomes a strong community,” adds Murk, who works as the artist-educator for Kentucky Theater Festival when she is away from HSRT. “There’s something special about everyone working 13 hour days to give the audience a unique, exciting, and welcoming experience when they walk in our doors. The theater itself becomes our home, so sharing that home with others is an exhilarating experience for each company member. I notice each year that the theatre professionals who work for HSRT really want to impact the community and truly be a part of western Michigan’s growing artistic scene.”

Got tickets? Check out HSRT’s calendar and ticket availability.

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.

Book on Forgotten African American History Puts Author Anna-Lisa Cox ’94 in the Spotlight

 

Anna-Lisa Cox ’94

As a scholar of 19th-century U.S. history, Anna-Lisa Cox ’94 isn’t accustomed to being in the spotlight. With the forthcoming publication of her book The Bone and Sinew of the Land: America’s Forgotten Black Pioneers and the Struggle for Equality, however, she’s found herself the subject of numerous media interviews, recipient of multiple invitations to discuss her work and soon to begin a month-long book tour starting on the East Coast with a June 11 preview in Holland. Amazon named The Bone and Sinew of the Land a June Best Book of the Month in history, and well-known scholar Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard University has described it as “a revelation of primary historical research that is written with the beauty and empathic powers of a novel.”

It’s all an adjustment, but she’s glad for the interest in her topic and the opportunity it presents to share a rich history long lost.

“I am a little stunned by the advance interest in my book,” said Anna-Lisa, who is a nonresident fellow with Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, “but I am relieved that the response has been warm.”

Focusing on the Northwest Territory (modern Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin) between 1800 and 1860, Anna-Lisa found that African Americans played a larger role in settling the frontier than previously believed. She identified more than 300 African American farming settlements that were home to land-owning farming families in the region, before the Civil War. There were tens of thousands of these free African American pioneers who came to settle this early American frontier in what was the nation’s first Great Migration.

“Loren Schweninger points out in Black Property Owners in the South, by the mid-1800s a farmer with property worth between $2,000 and $5,000 was in the top 13 percent of wealthy landowners in the United States at that time, regardless of skin color,” she said. “Many of these settlements included farmers with such wealth, and some were even wealthier.”

“It is amazing how these histories have been lost, but there is a lot of richness in the past for us still to learn,” she said. “From a local history perspective, Ottawa County had some very early African American settlers before the Civil War, including a successful blacksmith.”

Anna-Lisa, who is currently based in Michigan, has been conducting research on race relations in the 19th-century Midwest for several years. Her award-winning publications also include the 2007 book A Stronger Kinship: One Town’s Extraordinary Story of Hope and Faith (Little, Brown), which tells the history of the southwest Michigan community of Covert, which became integrated in the 1860s. She has also recently helped create two historical exhibits based on her original research at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, including one on black pioneers. She was back at Hope this past spring semester as a visiting faculty member, teaching a course on Michigan history.

She explains that the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 provided the impetus for thousands of African Americans to relocate to the wilderness lands in what she describes as the nation’s first Great Migration. It forbade slavery in the region, and offered equal voting rights to men regardless of their skin color. With the territory largely unsettled, it also meant that the African American pioneers could build new lives away from racial prejudice.

As the decades passed, Anna-Lisa noted, the opportunities for African Americans declined as the region became more heavily settled and they found themselves facing familiar biases as the frontier receded. As the publisher’s description of the book explains, “Though forgotten today, in their own time the success of these pioneers made them the targets of racist backlash. Political and even armed battles soon ensued, tearing apart families and communities.”

With the U.S. of the present day continuing to wrestle with <<equality>>, she feels that remembering is essential.

“The Northwest Frontier was the largest piece of land set aside as free from slavery in the New World,” she said. “This was a truly revolutionary frontier. What’s been lost is not only this first Great Migration, but all the settlements that were part of it.”

“These African American pioneers who came out to settle the frontier long before the Civil War are an integral part of our American past, but their history has been buried for far too long,” she said. “If we lose who helped settle the frontier, who was essential in these states’ histories, we lose a sense of who belongs.”

The book-tour events will provide multiple opportunities to learn more or to connect with Anna-Lisa. They include:

Monday, June 11: Maple Avenue Ministries, Holland, Michigan, 427 Maple Ave., 7 p.m.

Tuesday, June 19: Harvard Book Store, co-sponsored by the Hutchins Center; Boston, Massachusetts

Thursday, June 21: Politics & Prose; Washington, D.C.

Friday, June 22: Solid State Books; Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, June 26: Seminary Co-op; Chicago, Illinois

Wednesday, June 27: Anderson’s Bookshop; Naperville, Illinois

Sunday July 8, 2 p.m.: Allen County Public Library; Fort Wayne, Indiana

Monday, July 9: Literati Bookstore; Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tuesday, July 10: Pages Bookstore; Detroit, Michigan

Tuesday, July 24: Wisconsin Historical Society; Madison, Wisconsin

In addition, more about the book is available online at https://www.publicaffairsbooks.com/titles/anna-lisa-cox/the-bone-and-sinew-of-the-land/9781610398114/ or https://www.amazon.com/Bone-Sinew-Land-Americas-Forgotten/dp/1610398106 .