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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
by William Lake '19 and LauraGrace Orner '20 on September 12, 2018
The Pull – Even Year
The Pull – Odd Year
Even Year Team
Odd Year Pull
Even Year Pul
Odd Year Team Coaches
Odd Year “In The Pit”
Even Year “In The Pit”
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”.
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.
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.
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.
’19 Pull Team
’21 Pull Coach
’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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!