My Journey to Hope

My name is Yea Rang Song. I will be a junior this fall, and I am pursuing a degree in religion with an emphasis on biblical studies, German and classical studies. I plan to go to seminary after college and prepare to become a missionary like my parents; their lives as missionaries in South Africa and Zimbabwe have inspired me to help others.

Two years ago, on August 16, 2017, my plane landed at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was exhausted from a long flight from South Korea but also excited for the “dream come true” college life. I remember getting into a white van with the Hope College logo on it and setting off for Holland, Michigan to begin a new adventure.

Growing up in South Korea, South Africa and Zimbabwe, I knew I wanted to attend college, but I wasn’t sure where. I began researching different colleges, but was interested in Hope because it was recommended to me by my cousin. Unlike other colleges and universities, Hope had the best acceptance letter! All the other places sent a short email or letter congratulating me, but Hope’s was different — it was very personal. They responded to every single detail that I had written in my application essay. That is when I decided that I wanted to be part of a community like Hope College.

When I got out of the van, I found myself surrounded by a beautiful green campus. It was quiet because I had arrived a week earlier than other incoming freshmen. This was so I could attend a time of orientation designed especially for international students. This week-long series of events and activities put on by the Fried Center for Global Engagement was set up to help us learn about Hope, Holland and Michigan. My favorite part was visiting the Sleeping Bear Dunes and Mackinac Island. Looking back at this experience, I am even more grateful for the warm welcome I received and for all of the staff members at the Fried Center for Global Engagement.

Freshman year was the year of adjusting to American life. Although I had grown up in various countries as a foreigner my entire life, living in America was different. All my professors made their very best effort to make me feel more comfortable and welcome. After class, they would take time to talk to me – it felt good that they went out of their way and were willing to get to know me. Of course, there were times when I didn’t understand why people were saying certain things or doing things in a certain way, but because of these experiences, I was able to learn.

Being part of the Phelps Scholars Program allowed me to experience a more diverse community. All the professors and the students tried their best to understand students from different cultures and values. This program is also where I met my group of close friends. Knowing that there will always be a community for me made my first year at Hope easier.

I got my first job working in Print and Mail Services during the second semester of my freshman year. I learned a lot, and it helped me improve my communication skills. Even at work I felt welcomed. At the beginning of each semester, my boss brought us a meal while going over the goals for the semester. She even provided all the student workers snack bags before finals. Through her actions, I could see how much the staff at Hope cares about their students, and once again there was proof that I had made the right choice in coming to Hope.

After freshman year, I went back home for the summer. Although it was hard to leave home again, returning to Hope for my sophomore year was easier because I knew I had a community at Hope waiting for me which had become my second family. It was also the year I began working in the Development and Alumni Engagement office and learning more about fundraising. I learned how many people give back to help support students like me. In this new job, I had the great opportunity of thanking people for their gifts by writing notes to them.

All of the “different” I had experienced in the past two years was a good different. Growing up as a missionary kid, serving was always a part of my life. It was not until I started working on Hope’s campus that I realized the true meaning of reciprocal service. Serving and being served was a new life experience for me. I am looking forward to traveling to Germany to study abroad this spring and learn even more about what it means to serve in a global society. Hope College has been a blessing to me.

You can help support students like Yea Rang when you make a gift to the area that you love at hope.edu/give.

Day of Giving 2019

This was a record-breaking year, thanks to your incredible efforts. With the new “Give To What You Love” campaign, the campus community rallied around Day of Giving with incredible enthusiasm. In 36 hours, $281,395 was raised to support Hope students from over 1,500 donors. (Prior to this year, our best Day of Giving was 2017, when we received $162,101 from 855 gifts.) We couldn’t have achieved this success without your passion and collaboration — and maybe a little competition, too. What if somebody missed Day of Giving and they still want to make a gift? How exciting! Go to hope.edu/give which features an online form for making gifts.

Thank you for coming together for Hope students. Your generosity inspires us — and it tells us that you believe in the transformative power of a Hope education. We are so grateful for your enthusiastic support.

From all of us at Hope College: Thank you!

Participation Matters

“Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play today.”

In this season, many Hope LAX, SB, BB, Golf, XTC&F and 10S athletes (you know who you are by your Twitter handles) echo John Fogerty’s refrain. Wanting to play, striving to win is their mission. And don’t we all want to participate in life in some way to affect outcomes?!

Participation matters in sports, academics and co-curricular activities at Hope College. It also matters in giving to your alma mater. Numerous buildings and projects on campus are named for distinguished Hope graduates who provided a special or penultimate gift to capstone a distinctive career and lifetime of giving. The impact of such philanthropy is obvious, but Hope is built no less on gifts at a variety of levels by thousands of alumni, parents and friends. Many of the college’s major donors presented three-figure ($100+) annual gifts thirty years ago. By today’s standards, that equates to a good cup of coffee a couple times a week. While that may sound a tad hyperbolic, what is not is that their giving began and was sustained by establishing a habit. Just like that cup of coffee.

Hope requires a broad spectrum of donors to remain competitive and to keep the Hope experience accessible and affordable. Tuition and fees alone do not support the kind of Hope experience we strive to provide. Your philanthropic participation begins a journey toward a lifetime of joyful giving, bolsters our reputation scrutinized by external reviewers such as Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report, and fortifies the value of your hard-earned degree. Your gift also leverages other gifts and grants. Many national foundations examine participation rates in advance of affirming a grant. Participation from many stakeholders is considered, including Board of Trustees (100% expected), Alumni Board, Administrative Council, Deans, faculty and alumni.

It is easy to deflect. Many constituents suggest that we seek major funding from recognized philanthropists in our region with names that include De__  or Van_____. Some also suggest the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or Warren Buffett, even though their funding priorities are narrowly defined and their beneficiaries are often pre-selected.

Younger alumni cite their debt loads following graduation. I’m keenly aware, since my debt was equivalent to a very handsome new car. I’m also reminded that my financial aid package in the form of scholarships and Hope grants was also equivalent to a few nice cars, and made possible by donors I didn’t know or meet.

I’ve heard the chorus many times: “When I win the lottery or inherit a fortune, I’ll give a major gift to Hope.” Steady-and-regular wins the race if we participate together. Your gifts, combined with others, transform Hope and expand opportunities for students to learn, discern, serve and make a difference in communities and our world.

The transformational education that Hope has provided for more than 150 years has been possible only because of generous support. Through those many decades, Hope has been a good steward of resources entrusted by parents, friends, corporations, organizations and alumni. Hope is worthy of your investment.

Are you ready to participate?

Visit dayofgiving.hope.edu to learn how your gift, no matter the size, makes an impact. #Give2Hope

Day of Giving 2019 – Join Our Team!

Get ready!
Hope College’s Day of Giving is 14 days away. We need your voice, your networks and your enthusiasm to help promote Hope College. Please join our team on Thursday, April 11 and Friday, April 12 and become an online ambassador!

What’s an Ambassador?
An ambassador can be an alumni, parent, employee or friend that is willing to promote Day of Giving through their personal networks, especially social media using #Give2Hope. Ambassadors will receive a personal online link and be able to promote a specific category, program or department. The individual ambassador with the most gifts tied to their ambassador link will win a Hope College prize pack!

Words of the Week: Give to what you love!
This year, you can designate the area you would like to support. This option allows you to “pick your passion” and support the areas you feel most closely connected to. Help us spread the word: Give to what you love at Hope College!

Help us make the day a success. We will supply you with a toolkit full of easy to post pictures and graphics, sample posts and more. Did we mention the one-of-a-kind t-shirt? All you need to do is sign up and start promoting Hope College on your social media accounts.

Please consider helping our efforts this year and sign up to be an ambassador!

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.

Scholarship Day of Giving: Challenge Edition

Scholarship Day of Giving: Challenge Edition is Thursday, April 19. Giving to support student scholarships at Hope College is a direct way to benefit those we care most about — our students.

Here’s how you can be involved:

Make a gift at hope.edu/give2hope.

Share #Give2Hope throughout the day on your social media channels.

Change your Facebook cover photo to the Scholarship Day of Giving image (above). You’ll want to download the image or save it to your desktop. Go to Facebook. Edit your cover photo. Update your cover photo.

Change your profile photo to the Challenge Edition image. You’ll want to download the image or save it to your desktop. Go to your social media channels and update your profile photo. Facebook will allow you to make this a temporary change and you will automatically transition back to your previous profile photo after Scholarship Day of Giving.

Sample Tweet: It’s Scholarship Day of Giving! Join me in supporting scholarships for Hope students. Give now! #Give2Hope

Sample Facebook Post: Today is the day! It’s Scholarship Day of Giving at Hope College! Did you know that 95% of Hope students receive financial aid? Today all gifts go to support scholarships. Today’s goal is 900 gifts in 24 hours. Want to help a student? Give Now! #Give2Hope

Watch the progress throughout the day at hope.edu/give2hope.

Thanks in advance for your support! Go Hope!

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!

Chapel Choir Will Cross Oceans

Gabby Barber, a junior at Hope College, is a music and political science major and on Chapel Choir’s leadership board. She has been a soprano singer in Chapel Choir for three years. When Gabby came to Hope College she knew that music would be a concrete part of her future, because it was a huge part of her past. She sang in high school choir, took voice lessons, participated in musicals, and knew she never wanted to stop singing.

Chapel Choir is a medium size ensemble made up of men and women who come from diverse backgrounds and majors, but they all have a parallel passion for singing and performing. As a group they have the very unique experience of traveling and singing, while becoming a tight knit group. Chapel choir performs at baccalaureate, opening convocation, vespers and many other Hope College events.

“Usually if there’s a choir singing, it’s us.”

Gabby’s favorite part of being a part of Chapel Choir is the amazing experience of putting herself out in the world through Chapel Choir tours. The choir performs for audiences of different geographical locations, social-economical and racial backgrounds, and the choir hopes that their music affects their audience in a positive way. Gabby’s years in Chapel Choir have brought a new understanding that you never know how the music is going to encourage a listener.

Gabby has been told that Chapel Choir’s 2018 Tour to South Africa will be a life-changing experience and she believes that statement.

“The way we get to interact with people though our music is so much bigger than just traveling and singing to people. We just need a little help to get there. The people that donate to Chapel Choir can know that they will change lives. 

Your Chapel Choir Fund gifts support Gabby and student choir members just like her. Gifts to the Chapel Choir Fund go directly to support sending chapel choir students to South Africa. You make an immediate and life-shaping impact for students when you join the community of Chapel Choir Fund donors. Your gifts create passion and bolster commitment to help students grow spiritually and musically.

Investing in Gabby and all Chapel Choir members provides them with an unsurpassed educational experience at Hope College. Your faithful giving makes a difference.

Lydia Berkey Doesn’t Shoot for the Stars, She Builds Her Own Ladder to Them

Lydia Berkey’s first three years at Hope College have been stuffed to the brim with her involvement on campus. She brings her leadership abilities and inspirational spirit to every project she undertakes. Now in her junior year, Lydia is the Vice President of Student Congress, and has previously been involved in the Student Activities Committee for two years. She works in the Bultman Student Center at the Student Life and Center for Diversity and Inclusion Office as a Student Manager, is a general member of Black Student Union and a member of the Gospel Choir.

Lydia grew up in Fenton, Michigan, with many Hope College alumni family members. During her visit to Hope College, she focused solely on Hope’s Social Work program. She instantly fell in love with it due to its esteemed program and it’s friendly, welcoming faculty members. Lydia has continued pursuing her passion of social work and has thrived at Hope College since day one.

Lydia’s post-graduate plans are to receive her Masters in Social Work. Her dream is to become a Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist with a focus on children.

“I have a passion for advocating for those whose voices aren’t heard.”

Your Hope Fund gifts support Lydia and students just like her. Gifts to the Hope Fund go directly to support student scholarships and make it possible for many deserving students to attend Hope College. You make an immediate and life-shaping impact for students when you join the community of Hope Fund donors. Your gifts create passion and bolster commitment to help students grow spiritually and academically.

Investing in Lydia and all Hope students provides them with an unsurpassed educational experience at Hope College. Your faithful giving makes a difference.

Ian Leads Hope Football to Best Season Yet

Ian Gorgenson played football and graduated from Lansing Catholic High School. As he began searching for colleges, he was attracted to Hope’s football program. After attending a tour and meeting the coaches, Ian knew Hope College was the place for him. However, as distinguished as Hope’s athletics are, they were not the deciding factor. His decision to attend Hope College as a student-athlete was deeply influenced by the people themselves.

“The people at Hope are the people I want to surround myself with.”

Subsequent to his first game freshman year, Ian has continued to start every Hope football game as a defensive linemen. He has proven his relentless talent repeatedly on the field. Ian’s first college career quarterback sack occurred in the first conference game of his freshman season. Now as a junior, he has steadily progressed in strength and explosiveness. His current statistics stand at 9.5 tackles for loss, and 5.5 quarterback sacks.

“The guys on the football team are guys I want to physically defend.”

Ian’s fascination in exploring how the Earth works drew him to declare a geology major and environmental science minor. He has participated in 10 weeks of research under Dr. Edward Hansen, and is an avid participator in the Geology Club. Ian’s athletic goals include becoming an All-American player and Conference Champion. His career objectives include working in environmental consulting or working directly with an oil company.

Your Orange and Blue Fund gifts support Ian and student-athletes just like him. Gifts to the Orange and Blue Fund go directly to support student-athlete scholarships and make it possible for many deserving student-athletes to attend Hope College and compete in athletics. You make an immediate and life-shaping impact for students when you join the community of Orange and Blue Fund donors. Your gifts create passion and bolster commitment to help student athletes grow spiritually, academically, and athletically.

Investing in Ian and all Hope student-athletes provides them with an unsurpassed educational and athletic experience at Hope College. Your faithful giving makes a difference.