Tippecanoe and Delphis Too!

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The calm before the storm.

The Delta Phi sorority went on their annual tradition of going on a canoe trip this past Saturday. The social chairs told us it was happening rain or shine, so all 79 girls piled into cars and began the trip to Grant, Michigan. There, we arrived at a canoe rental company called “River Rat Canoe.” As it turned out, the company was a kind elderly man, his house, his German Shepherds, and an ATV. We were in for a treat.

As two men piled the canoes onto a trailer, they told us to hop inside the bus. With the tires roughing up the gravel and the music blasting from the man’s iPod nano, we were on our way. We sang country music at the top of our lungs and before we knew it, we were seven miles away.

14225607_10207206976518494_2980772589209408082_nIt was all fun and games until I realized how far away we were. Seven miles driving distance?! We asked Josh, the bus driver, how long it would take to go back to where we parked our cars. Nonchalantly, he replied, “Oh, just about four hours!”


79 girls. 4 hour canoe trip. No food, no water, no phone service and extremely dark clouds in the sky.

Hesitantly, I stepped out of the van. The men putting our canoes in the water didn’t seem to worry about the dark clouds, so I reluctantly sat down in the canoe. I took a deep breath, and finally wasn’t so worried about the approaching storm.

That is, until it hit us.

It was a light rain, and my canoe partner and I were in the middle of the pack, so we heard the girls warn us that rain was coming. Then, without warning, a torrential downpour began. Screaming, laughing and a few tears were shed in the twenty minutes that our bodies were pelted with freezing cold rain. But it was so, so fun.

14333170_10207694352773923_6444823617156629373_nFinally, as we approached the end of the trip, everyone was pleasantly surprised that no one had tipped out of their canoe. We could see the end in sight, and everyone was getting really excited. However, I looked to my right, and there was my best friend Taylor. Her canoe was all the way at the edge of the river and had gotten stuck under a tree. As she was trying to push herself out of the canoe, her body flung forward, and the canoe pushed out from behind her. You can imagine what happened next. Shrieking with laughter, Taylor rises from under the water while holding onto the very branch that she got herself stuck under. I laughed and laughed and we made it back to the dock a minute after she tipped over. Maybe this post should be called, “Tippecanoe and Taylor Too!” …but we’ll keep that to ourselves.

Muddy feet, soaked clothes, wet hair…You may be thinking that everyone would be in a terrible mood, right?

Not a chance. As I looked around, all I saw were smiles and laughter. They turned a potentially awful day, into one of the best ones during my time at Hope College.

And that is why I love my sisters.

Taking canoe by storm…before we knew about the storm!

That’s A Wrap!

Did summer fly by for anyone else?

In the blink of an eye, summer is over! This summer was filled with adventures in Holland. My first summer away from home was nothing short of memorable. The beach trips, exploring neighboring cities, and sunsets galore were perfection.

Laughs with visiting friends.

Sadly, it’s time to kiss lazy summer days goodbye. However, there comes a certain excitement with the new school year. The freshmen move-in day starts the back to school jitters, and catching up with all of your friends starts to make it feel real.

In my now junior-level classes, “Syllabus Day” is now “You can read the syllabus at home, let’s start off with Chapter 1 in your textbooks!” Oddly, I’m okay with this. I am ready for the challenges and surprises and work that goes into a new school year. Living in the Delta Phi cottage has been a blast so far, and it only gets better. I can’t wait to tell you all about the adventures that happen in that house! But for now, I am comforted in the fact that I am back in classes, with my best friends, taking on junior year.

Taken before the first dinner with all of the girls living in the cottage.

Alumni Survey Results

In February and March we asked for alumni feedback via a comprehensive survey. We had a great response with over 4,100 alumni participating across 48 states and 45 countries. For the researchers or armchair pollsters reading, this gives us a margin of error of less than 1.5%.

Captions to be edited by SAT.
Response by region. 13% of all Hope alumni participated in the study.

Response by Decade
Response by graduation year.
More importantly, the results of the study serve three primary functions. First, it provides those of us working at the college a chance to listen to those we serve. Second, it evokes discussion and gives alumni an additional opportunity to have an important voice. Third, it allows us to make decisions regarding the Alumni Association with objective information and alumni insight.

We are grateful for those that took the time to share their opinions and are fortunate to have a loyal alumni base. In fact, 76% rated their loyalty to Hope as a 7 or higher on a 10 point scale. Moving forward, we are planning to connect even more alumni to the mission of Hope through improved benefits and services based on what we heard.

Overall Loyalty
When asked to reflect on their loyalty to Hope College, 76% rated it as a 7 or higher.
Online and Career Connections
Alumni shared that relevant connections today should be made more around region and career and less around traditional class year. The benefits alumni are most interested in include an improved online alumni directory, discounted merchandise, regional connections, online lifelong learning and career networking. Plans for improvement and initial discussions are taking place in all of these areas and in April the Alumni Association Board of Directors prioritized a list of improvements to focus on.

Benefits Overview
Alumni rankings (four point scale) of the perceived value of benefits and services that are or could be offered by the Alumni Association.
Student Scholarships and Designated Giving
While there are many ways for alumni to make a difference, philanthropic support remains a crucial one. Currently, just under 20% of alumni support the college financially. Alumni shared that directly supporting students and the ability to designate gifts are the clearest ways to increase support. Based on this feedback, 100% of money raised through the Hope Fund will now directly support student scholarships. We are also working on priority designations and will be sharing new opportunities this year.

Giving Designation
Likelihood to give if alumni were able to designate their gift to a specific area.
Every alumni voice matters as we work together to fulfill Hope’s unique mission and vision each day. Thank you for your continued involvement and support of Hope students. If you have questions or concerns, contact us at alumni@hope.edu or 616.395.7250.

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, sc4a.org 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 lillyfellows.org.

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.