BIPOC Alumni Business Fair

The Alumni of Color Advisory Council is honored to highlight and support businesses led by our BIPOC Hope Alumni, or Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Join us in recognizing these entrepreneurs and support their endeavors by visiting their websites, making a purchase or by sharing their stories with your social networks!

Natalie A. Brown ’17 | Author of Fifty-Two Cups of Coffee

Natalie Allison Brown is an award-winning author and motivational speaker. She is the author of Fifty-Two Cups of Coffee, a weekly devotional for the modern believer seeking intimacy with God. Passionate about the Gospel, she uses storytelling as a means to encourage, challenge, and inspire others.

To learn more about Natalie’s work visit her website at 

Grab a copy of Fifty-Two Cups of Coffee at the Hope College bookstore or on her website:

Dr. David Paul ’10 | Founder of Bold & Gritty 

Bold & Gritty is a coffee-focused lifestyle brand that highlights Black coffee and Black culture. Coffee is the vehicle by which they tell amazing stories of people doing inspiring things. When founder, David A. Paul, MD, MS – a neurosurgical resident in Rochester, New York – launched Bold and Gritty, he made a conscious effort to do something that builds a legacy. That commitment goes beyond the coffee that Bold and Gritty roasts and the merchandise they sell, it is how they go about their daily lives. The Bold and Gritty life is built on the small things that no one sees – the personal challenges and wins that create an indelible impression on the world, the stories that are shared with each other, and the culture we embrace.

To learn more about Dr. Paul’s work visit the Bold & Gritty website at

Stop by the Hope College bookstore to pick up your own bag of Bold & Gritty coffee while supplies last, or visit the website to grab coffee, clothing, candles and swag!

Crystal Wright ’98 | Artist

Crystal Wright was recently celebrated by local news station, ABC 13 On Your Side, for her passion and beautiful artwork. What began as a private
practice of illustrative journaling in her Bible, has grown into something more. After she started to share and sell her artwork on social media, orders started coming in from all over the nation.

Read more about Crystal and be sure to check out her artwork on display at the Bookstore.

Supporting BIPOC Owned Businesses

While the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted small businesses across the world, the 2021 Small Business Credit Survey – Report on Firms Owned by People of Color published by the U.S. Federal Reserve Banks concluded that the pandemic exacerbated historic challenges and provided evidence that firms owned by people of color face more significant negative effects on business revenue, employment, and operations as a result of the pandemic, than their white counterparts. 

Financial Conditions: 79% of Asian-owned firms and 77% of Black-owned firms reported that their financial condition was poor or fair, 54% of white-owned firms reported similar conditions.

Traditional Financing: Across owner groups, Black-owned firms that applied for traditional forms of financing were least likely to receive all of the financing they sought (13%). Hispanic and Asian-owned firms (20% and 31%, respectively) were also less likely than white-owned firms (40%) to receive all of the financing for which they applied.

Personal Funding: Black business owners were the most likely to tap into their personal funds in response to their firms’ financial challenges (74%) compared to Hispanic-owned firms (65%), Asian-owned firms (65%), and white-owned firms (61%). 

To view the full report, visit

Now more than ever, we must support BIPOC businesses in our community and ensure their future as wealth builders and trailblazers.

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Form and Function, Past to Present | Mural Painted by Ashley Mary ’07

Where once were bare walls, a playful, abstract mural now lives.

Painted earlier this summer, it runs throughout the Student Development office block in the Jim and Martie Bultman Student Center, greeting visitors as they arrive and traveling across the central collaborative gathering space shared by student organizations.

And it’s the work of one of Hope’s own: Ashley [Johnson] Mary ’07, a Minneapolis-based artist and graphic designer whose career has included clients like Google and Starbucks, and her own lines of cosmetics bags and journal notebooks in Target stores. The lively style of her art made her an ideal choice to help the space embody its philosophy, said Dr. Ellen Tanis ’90 Awad, who is associate dean of student life at Hope.

“The intent of this office is to bring people together and create energy and synergy, and we in Student Development felt like Ashley Mary art could do this for us,” Awad said.

When Mary graduated as a newly minted religion major in 2007, she didn’t envision the professional arc that she’s followed. She’d taken a small handful of studio art classes at Hope and enjoyed it, but originally worked at a church and pursued art as an interest. As the years passed, the interest became so serious that she went back to school part-time to complete a post-bachelor’s certificate — and later a master’s degree — in graphic/web design at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

After earning the certificate, she was employed in the design industry, but she now has her own full-time studio practice pursuing her own projects as well as collaborations and commissions. Murals are a relatively recent interest since 2017, and one among many. Her studio work focuses on acrylic paintings and collage on paper, but her oeuvre includes artwork, prints, and product development like stationery, earrings and even socks.

“I said ‘yes’ to a lot of design avenues to figure out what I really loved,” she said. “It was a slow burn. I didn’t overnight start painting murals.”

Mary developed a concept for only two main walls in advance of coming to campus in June to paint Hope’s mural, but once she saw the breadth of the space she was inspired to expand on her original design, envisioning a way that additional wall space could be integrated.

The function of the space and the way that her work could play a role in it, she said, was itself intriguing to her as an artist. “What was really exciting was to contribute to a space where students gather and connect,” she said.

At the same time, she said, returning to her alma mater this summer was more than a commission.

“Having a relationship with the college was special,” she said. “For me, it felt sweet to create another version of my relationship to this space as a current version of myself.”

For more about Ashley Mary ’07 and her work, please visit

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Career Development and Lifelong Learning Courses

College is a unique time to explore and learn who you are and who you have the potential to become. That exploration doesn’t stop after graduation! Hope alumni are educated for lives of leadership and service and they live out the mission of the college in inspiring ways. This is evident in our alumni, a talented group of over 35,000 with varied interests, talents, and ambitions, all committed to making the world better in their own way. In an effort to support you as fearless innovators, the college recently introduced a new career development and lifelong learning platform for all of you!

Are you thinking about seeking employment in a new field? Has it been a while since you updated your résumé? Have you considered how your personal brand is connected to your career growth? Do you have an interview coming up that you need to prepare for? Looking for ideas about how to better manage your stress? Check out this new online program for alumni development and career support to participate in online courses that will support you as you continue to discern, prepare and pursue on your journey. Once you register, all courses can be accessed anytime. Registration takes less than a minute, and you can start and stop courses as you go. The system will keep track of what you have done. This valuable service has been paid for by The Alumni Association in order to provide it to you free of charge, please enjoy our gift to you!

Career Development Courses include:

  • Finding the Right Career (you can even take the Strong Interest Inventory for free!)
  • Your Personal Brand
  • Résumé and Cover Letter
  • Building Your Network
  • Interview Preparation
  • Mock Interviews
  • After the Interview
  • Finding the Right Company
  • Getting the Job

Lifelong Learning Courses include:

  • Leadership Development
  • The Truth About Stress Management
  • Unconscious Bias Training

Register today!

Introducing the 2021 10 Under 10 Award Recipients

The 10 Under 10 Awards will be presented at Homecoming to 10 alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years. The awards are designed to honor emerging leaders who exemplify the attributes of a Hope graduate.

The 2021 10 Under 10 Award Recipients are:
Natalie Brown ’17
Palmer D’Orazio ’16
Jim DelBene ’12
Divya Dhaliwal ’14
Larissa Fall ’14
Anysie Ishimwe ’16
Emery Max ’12
Karly M. Murphy ’11
Brandon Siakel ’11
Molly Greenfield ’15 Skawski

Make plans to join us at the 10 Under 10 Soirée on Friday, October 22, 2021. This event will be at CityVū Events on the fifth floor of CityFlats Hotel in downtown Holland as part of One Big Weekend | Homecoming and Family Weekend.

Natalie Brown ’17 | Writer and


Palmer D’Orazio ’16 | UX Designer and Researcher

Jim DelBene ’12 | Scientific Support Analyst

Divya Dhaliwal ’14 | Marketing and Strategy Partner, Growth Specialist

Larissa Fall ’14 | Operations Coordinator for the Grand Rapids Symphony

Anysie Ishimwe ’16 | Rwanda Country Manager, Genesis Energy Holdings

Emery Max ’12 | Research and Development / Partner at Paragon Fitwear

Karly M. Murphy ’11 Ph.D | Postdoctoral Fellow at Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center

Brandon Siakel ’11 | Strength and Conditioning Coach for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee

Molly Greenfield ’15 Skawski | Foster Care Program Supervisor, Children’s Home & Aid

Register today at Learn more about this award, view past recipients and make a nomination at

Senior Year: A 2020 Perspective

by Samantha Beck ‘21
Major: Exercise Science | Minor: Psychology | Mortar Board, Foster Hope Initiative, Kinesiology Club

Samantha Beck head shot

Hope handled this past academic year really well. Between the testing, safety protocols and online events, Hope was able to have a somewhat normal semester. This year has been a whole new experience, yet what matters the most stayed the same. Even though we were wearing masks, having some classes online and following COVID guidelines, Hope has still been a place of growth in my academics, faith and relationships. 

While my senior year didn’t look quite how I expected it to, I am still so happy that I chose Hope for my undergraduate degree. I have been grateful to be on campus and able to connect with my peers and professors.

As a freshman, my goal was really just to grow in my faith and meet new people. Looking back, I know I exceeded these goals in my four years at Hope. God placed so many people in my life that only led me to a stronger relationship with Him. I know that God brought me to Hope and placed people in my life to show me what a relationship with Him can really look like.

The thought of leaving Hope College brings a mix of happy and sad tears. The relationships I’ve made here will last a lifetime, and saying goodbye to my friends and professors is truly bittersweet. Leaving means starting the next chapter in my life, which I am so excited for — but it also means the close of a chapter that I have loved so dearly. 

Even though our ceremony is split into two groups, I’m excited to share the day with the people that have been by my side throughout my four years. Walking across the stage and knowing that my hard work has paid off will be the most rewarding part of our commencement ceremony.

As for my next chapter … starting this coming fall of 2021, I’ll be attending Oakland University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program. I’ve also had a goal to travel to South Africa, but due to COVID, I was unable to study abroad. Maybe this summer or after PT school, I’ll be able to reach that goal!

As someone who has benefitted from financial aid, my gratitude toward our donors is unmatched. People who support Hope are investing in the lives of present and future students. Based on the accomplishments and experiences I’ve had in my four years here, I would like to think it’s a pretty amazing investment. I look forward to the day when I’m able to give back to Hope and invest in future generations!

Samantha Beck ‘21 has been the recipient of the Lawrence J. Green Memorial Scholarship Fund since 2017. This scholarship was established by the family and friends of Lawrence (Doc) Green, longtime Hope professor, coach and trainer to provide financial aid for deserving students interested in pursuing a career in sports medicine, physical therapy and other health-related fields pertaining to physical education.

Congratulations to the Class of 2021!

Commencement for the Class of 2021 is scheduled for Sunday, May 16. There will be two separate but identical ceremonies with graduates with last names A–K at 11 a.m. and graduates with at names L–Z at 3 p.m.

Hope College students graduate during a commencement ceremony in 2019.

Things will look a little different this year, and yet we’re ecstatic to celebrate these students’ accomplishments and welcome them to the Alumni Association! Specific details, including the rain plan, are available at and both ceremonies will be streamed at

To help celebrate the Class of 2021, we’ve got some fantastic graphics for graduating students and their families and friends to use on social media.

Celebrate the Class of 2021 on Snapchat by unlocking one of our Commencement lenses. 

Questions? Email us anytime at Make sure you follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

What is “Hope Chic?”

On a recent invitation, the alumni engagement team referenced that the dress code is Hope Chic. We got a few questions, so we thought we’d clarify a bit.

Hope: Orange and blue.
Chic: /SHēk/ adjective: elegantly and stylishly fashionable.

We realized that a number of alumni, families and friends dress this way when they arrive for events on campus. For reference, President Scogin is just about always dressed Hope Chic, business professional. His crisp navy suit with an orange tie defines this style. Our event celebrating the Class of 2020, while certainly can be business professional, will be a bit more Hope Chic, business casual.

Ladies might wear a navy dress with orange jewelry. Gentlemen might wear a navy quarter-zip or an orange polo with crisp khakis. If you have a pair of orange shoes, this is definitely the time to wear them. White jeans work well here when paired with navy and orange. What about anything orange gingham with chambray? Navy stripes with an orange accent? A great plaid in the colors of your alma mater? Anything with an anchor print? The options are endless, just lean towards the blue, orange and white in your closet.

It’s not quite as spirited as your favorite Hope sweatshirt. It’s more along the lines of something you’d wear on a nice date or brunch with your parents.

Need some more inspiration? We created a Hope Chic Pinterest board just for you! Questions? We love to hear from you! Email anytime.

Recording of Lunch and Learn with Dr. Fred Johnson III

Did you miss the event this afternoon? Or would you like to share it with a friend? Here you go!

Lunch and Learn with Dr. Fred Johnson III “January 6, 2021: Biopsying America’s Democracy & the Way Forward” on Friday, April 16.

On January 6, 2021, the insurrectionist mob that stormed the United States Congress revealed dangerous, festering weaknesses within America’s democracy. This presentation assesses the extent of the damage and offers corrective actions to confront and neutralize this clear and present danger.

Recordings of Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient Webinars

Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Lara Plewka ’98 MacGregor sharing her story of “Turning Heartbreak into Hope” on Wednesday, April 14.

Lara Plewka ’98 MacGregor

At the age of 30, 7 months pregnant and a successful Associate Vice President, Lara MacGregor was diagnosed with cancer. 14 years later, Lara is still fighting Stage IV Metastatic breast cancer after 7 years of remission. Lara knows heartbreak – but she also knows hope. In 2012, she founded Hope Scarves, an organization that allows the sharing of stories and scarves among women who are fighting cancer. The Hope Scarves collection, which is constantly evolving, now contains over 15,000 scarves and 1,200 stories. Her organization has raised and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to breast cancer research and Lara has also become a popular blogger, podcast host and speaker. Join us to learn how Lara has faced her personal health heartbreak with a commitment to spreading hope.

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient Deb Heydenburg ’87 Fuller presented “From Plants to Patients: A Scientist’s Journey from Hope to Healing” on Wednesday, April 14.

Deb Heydenburg ’87 Fuller

In a world that has had all eyes on vaccine development in the past year, Dr. Deb Fuller has been wearing many different hats, including Professor of Microbiology at the University of Washington, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Orlance, Inc, and Division Chief and Core Scientist at the Washington National Primate Research Center in the AIDS division. In short, she has been on quite a journey since her first experiment on plant cells at Hope College to her current work developing vaccines to fight the spread of disease in humans. This talk is equal parts science, Q&A and anecdotes about our Distinguished Alumni Award winner’s personal (highly circuitous) journey.