The 121st Pull | Saturday, September 29

By William Lake ’19 and LauraGrace Orner ’20

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 students activities like this, by making a gift today!

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.

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.

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.

 

Spring Update from Student Development

Dear Hope Families,

Richard Frost, Dean of Students

Here at Hope, we are in the final weeks of the academic year, and the entire community is ready to finish strong. As you probably know, this time of the year is filled with meaningful tasks — completing classwork, preparing for final exams, finding summer work, planning to launch a new career and attending year-end events. One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is seeing students celebrate their achievements and other important milestones with friends and loved ones. This will certainly be the case on Sunday, May 6, when we gather for the graduation of the Class of 2018!

At baccalaureate and commencement, graduates always tell me how fast their college years went by. They say that, “Time flies when you are having fun!” I would revise that to say, “Time flies when you are engaged in meaningful, life-changing experiences.” Over the course of this year, your student has worked hard in classes, developed relationships with faculty who have guided and challenged them, engaged in opportunities to deepen their faith, and made lifelong friends. No wonder time seems to go so quickly!

As the dean of students, I want to thank you for being a part of the Hope family. Our community is better because of the energy and gifts you and your student have shared with us. Whether your student will be continuing as a student next year or stepping into the new role of Hope alumnus, there is much to look forward to in 2018-19. Most exciting of all, we will be conducting a search for our next president, helping us begin a new chapter at Hope.

For those parents and families who will be joining us on May 6 for graduation, we look forward to celebrating your student’s many accomplishments and will be shedding a tear as we say goodbye to the Class of 2018, whom we love dearly.

Thank you!

Spera in Deo
Richard A. Frost
Dean of Students

The Hope Gratitude Project

Gratitude, is it your attitude? This February, Hope students put gratitude into practice during the first ever Hope Gratitude Project hosted by the annual giving team.

“We are always looking for ways to educate students and get them involved; expressing gratitude for scholarship gifts really seemed to fit.”

The Hope Gratitude Project was a month-long student-focused event intended to encourage thankfulness throughout the Hope Community. The team provided calendars to students which contained one gratitude action per day and encouraged them to lead a full and grateful life. From positive personal activities such as “Complaint free day!” and “List ways you’ve impressed yourself” to interpersonal thankfulness like “Thank a professor who challenged you” and interactive events in the Bultman Student Center. The campus was brighter in a traditionally gloomy winter month.  

Through two events, students came together to write over 150 personal thank you notes to donors. One student exclaimed,

“This is so great! I’ve always wanted to express how thankful I am to people that give!” – Annie ‘20

The Hope Gratitude Project challenged us to balance academics, faith, family, and gratefulness (among a long list of other commitments). Being grateful to ourselves and others takes a small amount of time each day, and can have such a positive impact on daily life. A simple smile or encouragement to a friend can make a big difference in our lives, and other’s lives.

Being grateful doesn’t have to stop now that February is over. Keep it going, and find a way each day to complete a simple act of gratitude!

The Power of Hope

Every fall, the Hope College community welcomes a new class of students to campus. These students will experience the power of a Hope education.

They will thrive in small classes, where one-on-one collaboration with professors is the norm. They will experience a uniquely vibrant Christian character, with many opportunities to explore their faith. They will participate in one or more of the 1,800+ internship opportunities and 300+ study-abroad opportunities in more than 60 countries. They will mature as leaders, guided by staff who care about their personal, professional and spiritual development. And, they will begin their career or enroll in graduate school soon after graduation, ready to lead and shape their communities.

Together, our faculty and staff support the mission of Hope College — to educate students for lives of leadership and service in a global society through academic and co-curricular programs of recognized excellence in the liberal arts and in the context of the historic Christian faith. Donors bring this mission to life for countless accomplished students, making a Hope education accessible for many who might otherwise deem it impossible. Ninety percent of Hope students receive financial aid based on need or merit, and about 750 students benefit specifically from donor-endowed scholarships.

“Hope is a place that opens doors, offers a multitude of opportunities and connects students to people who sincerely want to help,” said Meghan Lau ’15 at Hope’s annual Scholarship Luncheon.”

“Each story of every scholarship, every donor and every recipient is unique.”

Your gift to Hope makes a significant and positive impact on the students of today and tomorrow. Visit hope.edu/give for more details on supporting student scholarships.

Heartened by Hope

Ask Alexis-Simone Rivers who influenced her most during college, and she’s quick to recognize two people: her mother, and her scholarship donor, Mrs. Libby Hillegonds.

Alexis-Simone Rivers and Mrs. Libby Hillegonds.

As a shy freshman, Alexis-Simone had mapped out her future around the certainty of a nursing career. During her first year at Hope, which was a period of discernment, she realized that nursing was not, in fact, her calling. Suddenly having to rethink her vocation, Alexis-Simone was disheartened. But, knowing she was supported by the William Hillegonds Scholarship — and encouraged by her mother — Alexis-Simone found heart, persevered and even chose to study abroad the spring of her sophomore year.

“Being in Argentina was my most challenging semester,” she says. Challenging, and life-changing. Alexis-Simone returned to campus with a new sense of purpose and identity. She switched her major to business and marketing, and leapt into leadership positions. She served as the Advising and Transition Orientation director, a program coordinator and mentor for the GROW Peer Mentoring Program, a core member of the Student Activities Committee, and the president of two student organizations.

Alexis-Simone Rivers ’16 receiving her diploma at commencement.

When Alexis-Simone received her diploma in May 2016, she was a different person.

“I’ve learned not to lose sight of my goals and ambitions,” she says, “and to remember I am a child of God.”

Your gift to Hope makes a significant and positive impact on the students of today and tomorrow. Visit hope.edu/give for more details on supporting student scholarships.

Meet the Provost

As provost, I think about academic affairs at Hope College every single day. I focus on our students’ education and experience. I spend most of my days meeting with faculty, staff, and students asking questions and listening for what’s going well and what can be improved.

Here’s what I know so far. We have 235 full-time faculty who are well-educated, well-equipped scholarly teachers. I appreciate that at Hope College, full-time faculty teach the vast majority of our courses. Unlike our competitors, we don’t have many part-time instructors—and when we do, they’re practitioners in their field who add to the quality of our education here. And at Hope, we have zero graduate teaching assistants—unlike large land grant research institutions. In short, the vast majority of our professors hold the top degree—PhDs in their fields–and they hold leadership roles in their professional associations and are national experts and authors in their fields. I appreciate the fact that our faculty’s full-time careers are to teach well, conduct research, mentor students, and work closely with students in countless ways. And the faculty are caring and very student-centered—they love to work with students. Students are the highlight of our collective work.

So, I think we get it right—after 21 years of academic leadership experience and having seen various models, I believe it’s best to have a hybrid model of teaching really well and doing research. Some schools teach a lot but don’t do much research or stay on top of their fields. Other institutions do research and teach a little—to varying degrees of success, quality and engagement. We do both and we do them well.

I’ve also spent a good amount of time meeting with and listening to our students, individually and in groups. Our students’ stories and lived experiences are impressive here. I appreciate all that they’re able to juggle here at Hope. Many are double majors–bringing together interesting combinations of study like Engineering and Dance, Computer Science and Classics, Communication and Religion, Neuroscience and Art, the list goes on. I’ve learned to listen for the “and”—they study this AND that. Students can do that here at Hope; students cannot do so everywhere.

And then I like to ask students what else they do with their time here. Many engage in interdisciplinary projects. Hundreds of students conduct collaborative undergraduate research with our faculty members. Many are involved in the National Science Foundation-funded research projects. Students present and publish their research with our faculty—in many institutions, this is unheard of at the undergraduate level. I know many places will use the student labor and intellectual contributions but not give them credit. Hope College shares the research opportunity and the authorship with our students. To give you a sense of our undergraduate research prowess at Hope College, the Council for Undergraduate research awarded us along with two other institutions in the nation for our high level and high quality of undergraduate research. And our students earn major international awards and recognitions for their excellence through prestigious awards like Lilly, Goldwater, Mellon, Fulbright, and more. Having served as a founding graduate program director elsewhere, I’ve concluded that our undergraduate education is a whole lot like graduate education elsewhere in the depth, quality, and research experiences that our students have alongside our talented faculty. We’re providing rich, robust, and rigorous academic experiences for our students.

In addition, our students tell me that they are athletes, musicians, dancers or artists. And most students are leaders and community servants who care about things that are bigger than themselves. Our student body is full of smart and ambitious, but other-centered individuals. It is the well-rounded and the holistic approach to their education and their lives that I love the most.

And let me tell you about a Hope College student I know particularly well, my son. This year, our oldest child started college at Hope College. He chose Hope for the superb science programs, to have the opportunity to play Division III lacrosse, to engage in a wide array of study abroad and undergraduate research opportunities, and because of the vibrant chapel program. I can tell you that wearing my two hats of provost and mom in one place have thrilled me. Hearing our son talk about how much he loves his classes, the faculty, the Phelps Scholars program, lacrosse, residential experience, and his new friends makes my heart sing. After a 21 year career in higher education, where I have truly loved academics and have seen its power daily in everyone else’s children, I now have the opportunity to watch my child (whom I love deeply) love what I love. And it’s ridiculously good!

So, I’m delighted to lead at Hope College.

A place that celebrates a well-rounded education, holistic student experience, and a relational endeavor that weds academics and faith in a safe and idyllic playground on the shores of Lake Michigan where gorgeous sunrises and sunsets fascinate us each day! This is all distinctly Hope College and I’m genuinely pleased to travel this academic, relational, and spiritual path with your child and student. Know that I’m as invested in your child’s education as my own son’s four years here.

Grace and peace to all of you, friends!
Cady Short-Thompson, PhD
Provost, Hope College