Building a Life

Rose (Summer)What makes a place feel like home? 

It’s 5:00PM and as I walk out of the Alumni Office at Hope College, I’m rushing to get to my 5:15PM workout class. There’s construction, so I know I’ll have to take a few back roads. My mind is on auto-pilot while driving and once I arrive at my gym, I set out the necessary equipment and sweat for the next hour. The class finishes and I hurry home to put the chicken that I’ve been wanting to cook all day in the oven. My housemates are already there, singing along to the music in the kitchen while cooking. We discuss our days and laugh about the embarrassing events that occurred. After that, we decide to watch the sunset at Holland State Park before bed time. Driving to the beach, blasting “Uptown Girls” by Billy Joel, my heart is filled with happiness and I can’t help but beam with joy. By 10:30PM, I am reading Jesus Calling and crawling into my comfortable bed. With a few minor tweaks, this is how my day usually goes.

So why did I just tell you my daily routine?

Because I’ve built a life without even realizing it. I’ve made a place my home and set a beneficial routine. And I think that this is such an important step in a college student’s life. This life didn’t simply pop into existence by accident. This life took planning and intentional steps. I am developing my emotional, physical, and spiritual state each day. The friends that I surround myself with, the workouts that I (sometimes force) myself to go to, and my walk with the Lord take importance in my life. And it feels really, really good.

Maybe this is what everyone calls ‘adulting’.

Rockets and Music and Travel…Oh My!

Hello again!Trevor

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was given the opportunity to travel to the NASA White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico as a part of my internship with Jacobs Engineering. I have been working on a project to design a rocket test stand as a part of the Orion space capsule development, and in order to more accurately conduct our calculations, my project manager invited myself, the lead engineer, and a designer to accompany him on a trip out to the facility in New Mexico.

Due to the government involvement in this project, unfortunately I was not allowed to take any pictures while I was at the site. The guards with M-16 assault rifles at the entrance gate really reinforced the idea that this visit was not to be taken lightly! Over the course of my three days in New Mexico, I was privileged to walk where Space Shuttle engines were tested, explore Cold War-era command bunkers, and enjoy some of the best Mexican food I have ever had. The culmination of this trip was in my presentation of my work to a board of 30+ engineers, project managers, and board members from NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and Boeing. My school presentations have suddenly become much less intimidating…

My other major experience this summer was a trip up to Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania for a week-long choir camp with the Royal School of Church Music. I was blessed to sing with 200 of the best voices in America as we learned and performed a selection of classical and religious choral music. Among our repertoire was Psalm 90 by Charles Ives, Missa Sancti Nicolai by Joseph Haydn, and My God How Wonderful Thou Art by Richard Scarth. Hopefully I will be able to post recordings of our singing when they are released this winter!

That’s all for now, y’all…up next, a swimming leadership retreat, Resident Assistant training round 3, and the start of my final year at Hope!

My Summer Experience at Mason Street Warehouse

ToriThis summer I have the exciting honor to be working at Saugatuck’s Center for the Arts as a spotlight operator for their theatre, Mason Street Warehouse. Mason Street just closed the show Million Dollar Quartet with record ticket sales and we can look forward to their upcoming shows Murder for Two (July 22 through August 7) and The Great American Trailor Park Musical (August 12-28).

Murder for Two consists of two actors, one who plays the leading detective in a classic “who done it” mystery while the other actor plays a multitude of different perpetrators. The show covers a plethora of genres and iconic references from film noir to Scooby Doo. Tickets are going fast and I can not talk up the amazing talent of the people working at Mason Street enough! You can either call their box office at 269-857-2399 or visit their website, for tickets and more information. Here is also a word from their director, David Eggers, about the show.

As a theatre student, this opportunity has been nothing but rewarding. I am still narrowing down the specific area I want to specialize in and internships at local theatres like this where I can apply what I’m learning at Hope and get hands on experience is truly a gift. Working with lighting for the first time in a production has been a beautiful new way for me to see how I can still perform without standing on the stage. I’ve had to learn the actor’s physical cues and how to anticipate their next move almost through a silent language. It only strengthens the warm family dynamic that Mason Street supports which recognizes each and every person it takes to make a production possible. But aside from being welcoming, it is also an Equity theatre, so I am getting a chance to see what professional theatre is like from the inside while learning and working alongside the stage manager and master electrician.

Summer Send Off: Then and Now

Rewind to July of 2014. 

As an incoming first-year student at Hope College, I was a ball of nerves and excitement. Being the type of person that needs planning and order, not knowing what was to come when I stepped onto campus in the fall was a rattling concept. Thankfully, Hope College does a picnic called a “Summer Send Off” in four different areas: Naperville, Mid-Michigan, Southeast Michigan, and Southwest Michigan. Since I am from the Lansing area, I went to the picnic held at Patriarche Park in East Lansing in the summer of 2014. About 10 of my high school friends were also coming to Hope, so we all arrived together. Even though I was with the people I felt most comfortable around, I couldn’t help but be nervous. I was moving away from an area that I had lived my entire life, to a town where I had visited only a couple of times. Coming to Hope was more or less a leap of faith for me, as I hadn’t even gone on an official campus visit. From the very beginning of the picnic, I knew that this was where I was supposed to be. The people from Hope College that hosted the picnic were friendly and I didn’t feel completely clueless anymore. I had no idea how to do this whole college thing, considering how I was a first-generation college student, with no real guidance in this adventure. But after the picnic, the countdown was set for August 24, move-in day, and I couldn’t have been more excited.


Fast forward to now: July of 2016. 

Packing up the orange and blue Gatorades into the cooler and putting everything into the Hope van, I would soon be on my way to the first Send Off picnic of the summer. Ever since August of 2014 (Yes, two weeks after I stepped onto campus!) I have worked in the Alumni and Family Engagement Office, the very office that hosts the Summer Send Off picnics. I couldn’t help but look back on the time that I was so nervous about a simple picnic. Now, I am greeting the incoming students as they arrive, and making them feel at home before they even come to campus. Hope College has a way of doing that. As I stood under the pavilion, looking at all of the students that were listening to the Orientation Directors, I couldn’t help but look back on the time that I was sitting in their exact place. A feeling of peace and thankfulness washed over me. The leap of faith that I once took in 2014 brought me to a state of joy, contentment and peace in 2016.

If only these freshmen knew what they were in for.

At the Breakneck Pace of Life

Well it has been a LONG time since I’ve posted…but I promise I can explain. In the past two months I have…

  1. Raced a triathlon
  2. SURVIVED FINALS (finishing my Junior year at Hope)
  3. Participated in the Formula SAE competition at the Michigan International Speedway
  4. Started work at Jacobs Engineering – Technology Group in Tullahoma, Tennessee

So let’s back waaaaaaaay up.

One of the clubs I have loved being a part of at Hope is the triathlon club. Every year, we pick a triathlon that happens some time in that narrow window between Spring Break and finals. This year, we went to Kentucky for a race. We took about 20 people and it was TONS of fun! There is a picture of our group below.


After that I was mostly home free for the semester…finals week was tough, but I finished and was named to the Dean’s list for my grades!

Immediately after finals were over, I checked all of my residents out of their housing and then packed up and headed to the Michigan International Speedway for the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) competition. This is a huge event, with over 130 schools attending. Our team was incredibly honored simply to be there competing alongside schools like Purdue, Auburn, Ohio State, and even foreign teams like University of Stuttgart. Our team did very well, especially for how small our school is. A team picture is below.



And then most recently, I began working as an intern with Jacobs Engineering. Jacobs is a huge engineering firm that tackles projects ranging from national security to medicine to oil and gas. I am working in the Aerospace and Defense sector, in the Technology group. I am getting to do projects with Boeing, NASA, and Honda…suffice it to say this is a huge learning experience.

Very soon I am actually getting to go on a company trip to one of the project sites at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico…I’ll post again after that to give an update on how that was. I am very nervous and very excited!

Until next time…Go Dutch!

Great Golf Outing, Better People

6AM didn’t seem too bad with this kind of early morning view.

The morning of the Bob DeYoung Golf Outing was crisp and bright. As the golfers came to register at the Ravines Golf Club in Saugatuck, each one had a smile on their face (whether they were morning people or not!) And as President Knapp gave his morning remarks, I couldn’t help but stop and think about how lucky I was to be in this place. By this place, I mean Hope College. This place and these people have one word to describe them: genuine. The students, my co-workers in the Alumni Engagement Office, and all of the people surrounding me are truly genuine. The smiles, jokes about golf scores, and laughs carried on into the afternoon round, making me more and more thankful with each person I interacted with that day.

I sat out on Hole #17, giving away some of the prizes for the On-the-Green Challenge, and was continually amazed at how great the day was. Every person that came up to me was cheerful, even though they may have shot their golf ball into the trees to my left. I began to realize that even if something were to go wrong in the planning of the outing, the golf outing would have remained great- simply because of these people.

Too often we take the people around us for granted when trying to make things perfect. Having the perfect grades, the best job, or an amazing wardrobe don’t really matter. At this golf outing, I realized that life is about the people and the relationships that we have made. And boy, am I thankful for these Hope College relationships.


“Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made?” -Francis Chan

Mary Elizabeth Winther ’15 Receives Lilly Graduate Fellowship

Mary Elizabeth Winther valued her experience at Hope, so much so that the 2015 graduate ultimately dreams of mentoring students at an institution much like her alma mater.

As one of only 10 young scholars nationwide to receive an award through the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program for graduate studies beginning this fall, and newly enrolled in a three-year MFA program in costume design at Wayne State University, the French and theatre double major is on her way.Winther_Headshot

“My dream career path would involve working in a theatre department at a college similar to Hope,” Winther said. “I would love to be the resident designer or the costume shop manager at a small Christian school where I could build meaningful relationships with students while teaching and designing.”

The Lilly Graduate Fellows Program is a part of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts that supports outstanding students who want to explore the connections among Christianity, higher education, and the vocation of the teacher-scholar as they pursue graduate degrees in humanities and the arts. Mary Elizabeth is excited by the opportunity that her fellowship will provide to continue to reflect on her career choice and faith holistically.

“The Lilly Graduate Fellows Program appealed to me as a way to keep me grounded and focused during graduate school,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to having a community of people who are motivated in their studies by their love for Christ and desire to seek Him through whatever academic path they follow.”

She has felt well-prepared by her Hope experience for both her forthcoming graduate work and her participation as a Lilly Graduate Fellow.

WintherDSC02184“Hope absolutely prepared me well for graduate school,” she said. “I was able to costume-design three fully realized productions for the theatre department, work in the costume shop (which will be a part of my graduate school experience as well) and take classes in all areas of theatre.”

“Several of my courses, both in and outside of the theatre department, asked that I think critically about why I wanted to pursue theatre, and how my faith would inform my choices along my career path,” she said. “I think all of these factors helped me to affirm my desire to work as a designer, and prepared me for the demands of a rigorous graduate school program.”

Winther has spent the past year as a costume intern with Meadow Brook Theatre, a professional company that operates on the campus of Oakland University in Auburn Hills. In addition to her participation in theatre productions while a student at Hope, she spent the spring semester of her junior year studying abroad in Paris, France, and was also in co-curricular activities including serving as a resident assistant, and the “Milestone” yearbook and the Nykerk Cup competition. A summa cum laude graduate, she was inducted into the college’s chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa honorary society.

Winther and the other nine Lilly Graduate Fellows were selected by an eight-member selection committee who interviewed 16 finalists (selected from 56 applicants) in April in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Fellows will meet together for three days at an Inaugural Conference on August 1-4 in Indianapolis, Indiana, with their mentors, Gretchen J. Van Dyke of The University of Scranton and Douglas Henry of Baylor University. Following the Inaugural Conference, the Fellows will embark on a long-distance colloquium, engage in one-on-one mentoring relationships, and participate in the three additional conferences. All 10 are pursuing terminal graduate studies in humanities or the arts.

The Lilly Graduate Fellows Program is funded by a generous grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. The program will select a total of 10 cohorts of Graduate Fellows from the current 99 schools that make up the Lilly Fellows Program National Network of Church-Related Schools. Lilly Graduate Fellows participate in a three-year program in which they meet regularly with a mentor, attend four conferences, participate in a long-distance colloquium, and receive three annual stipends of $3,000 ($9,000 total) to use at their discretion. More information on the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program is available at

Founded in 1991, the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts seeks to strengthen the quality and shape the character of church-related institutions of higher learning through three programmatic initiatives. In addition to the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program, it offers postdoctoral teaching fellowships for young scholars who wish to renew their sense of vocation within a Christian community of learning in order to prepare themselves for positions of teaching, scholarship, and leadership within church-related institutions. It also maintains a collaborative National Network of Church-Related Colleges and Universities that sponsors a variety of activities and publications designed to explore the Christian character of the academic vocation and to strengthen the religious nature of church-related institutions. The National Network represents among its current membership of 99 schools a diversity of denominational traditions, institutional types, and geographical locations.

Share Your Hope Experience at Summer Send Offs

686-tmp460-sample2-2JUN2016 Each summer Hope alumni, students and parents meet members of the incoming class and their families at a series of welcome events. You are invited to help welcome the Class of 2020! Connect with Hope alumni, parents and students at a Summer Send Off event near your and share your Hope experience with students just beginning theirs.

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 1.15.48 PM copyJoin us for a complimentary dinner hosted by Alumni and Family Engagement. These events happen rain or shine and are complimentary for all. The RSVP deadline is one week prior to each event.

For more information and to RSVP please visit or call 616.395.7250.

Summer in South Dakota

Hello again. This month I write to everyone from the gorgeous plains of South Dakota. Instead of taking the month of May off, this year I ventured to the Rosebud Native American reservation. I am about half way done with my trip and I do not want it to end!

Throughout this month I have been teaching and observing a high school chemistry course. So far this has been an amazing experience because my mentor teacher is very engaging and provides an exceptional model for me to follow. My favorite part of being in the school is getting to know the students!  One of my students plays basketball and travels all over the country to play with different teams. Another one of my students researches over the summer at University of South Dakota. There are so many more great stories that I have heard by being on the Native American reservation.

The main purpose of this trip is to learn about the Lakota culture. We have been fortunate enough to listen to Leland Little Dog’s stories about the Lakota people. Last night he told us the creation story. This story differs from the Christian creation story, but he told us something very important about these differences in culture. Leland told us that there may be different ways that everyone explains how we got here, but it does not make any story less legitimate. There are multiple ways to get from point A to B. The presence of multiple paths does not make any one path less legitimate, but instead establishes that there are different perspectives that occurred simultaneously. Just some Native American wisdom for the day…

I hope your summer is going as well as mine is so far. And to end on a lighter note, South Dakota is gorgeous and I have spent so much time hiking and exploring the outdoors! This scenery cannot be described so here are some pictures to show the beauty.



Sweet Summertime

Freedom, relaxation, and priorities. Three simple words to describe how I imagine this summer will be.

Pulling into the driveway and looking atIMG_2349 my new, adorable yellow rental house with a big white porch, my heart leaped with excitement. As I unpacked all of my things into my new room in Holland,  I began to realize that this was the first time that I would be completely on my own. Completely ‘free’. No more parents asking when I would be home, no more RA’s or residence halls, and no more roommates. Now, my best friends are my housemates, and I’m all alone in my room brainstorming how to cook all of the delicious meals my father did as I was growing up. Freedom is as much exhilarating as it is daunting.

Relaxation seems to be an easy thing to attain in Holland. The waves crashing into the beach, the strolls through downtown, and the tulips that seem to greet me wherever I go. Though I will be working, I can already tell that living here without having to worry about classes or coursework will be relaxing.

Finally, priorities. I should start thinking about how to plan the way my future roommate and I want to decorate our room in the Delphi Cottage for the fall semester. I have to start applying to internships for when I spend spring semester in Washington, D.C next school year. All the meanwhile working two jobs in Holland. It’s important to remember that while summer is fun and so many of my friends are living in houses all around me, I can’t forget about responsibilities that I need to focus on.

A carefree summer isn’t exactly what I have planned, but these three things sound pretty great to me. Check back in about four months from now. We’ll see how it actually went.