Editor’s Note: On June 23, 1972, a federal civil rights law was passed that prohibited sex-based discrimination in any educational institution that receives federal funding. Title IX also gave girls and women the equal opportunity to compete in sports across the country.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Title IX’s passing next summer, Hope College Athletics will share the memories and perspectives from Hope College student-athletes, coaches, and alumnae on the 9th of each month during the school year.
In our third installment, we hear from two Hope College women’s basketball alumnae who both graduated with degrees in mechanical engineering and now work together for Gentex Corp. in Zeeland, Michigan: Miranda DeKuiper ’11 and Jess Moorman ’21. Gentex develops and manufactures custom high-tech electronic products for the automotive, aerospace, and commercial fire protection industries.
What is your job title and role at Gentex?
Miranda DeKuiper: Production Manager — Electrical Assembly, Microelectronics, Aerospace. I lead a team of 250 of multiple engineering support disciplines and manufacturing teams. I’ve been with Gentex essentially since 2010 during my internship. My favorite thing about the company is that you cannot get bored – there are always other opportunities to continue to challenge yourself with. There’s a heavy emphasis on people development and innovation that makes it an extremely compelling place to work.
Jess Moorman: As a Production Group Leader for Gentex, it is my job to motivate and develop my production team so that we can achieve Gentex’s standards of quality and efficiency in our final products. I have been in the Group Leader role for one month and have been at Gentex for four months total. What I love most about Gentex is that it’s a world-class company with high standards and I’m surrounded by people who are willing to help you reach those high standards.
How did being a Hope student-athlete prepare you to work in your field? What did playing a college sport teach you about life?
Jess Moorman: One of the most important things that I learned from being a student-athlete at Hope is that on every team you are a part of, there is always a role for you. Everybody is different. Everyone has things that they are good at and things that need improvement. The key is to know your strengths and play those to your team’s advantage. While playing basketball at Hope, I quickly realized that a little bit of energy can go a long way. You can’t always control if the ball goes in the basket, but you can always control how much energy you bring. That was my role. I have directly used this mindset while leading my own team at Gentex. I can’t always control if a machine goes down, or if life outside of work is not going well for someone on my team, but I can control how I approach those interactions with them. I can bring energy and enthusiasm to the floor and use this particular strength to benefit our team culture.
Miranda DeKuiper: Engineering and manufacturing are fields that require a large amount of grit, tenacity, and attention to detail. Problems may require you to have many attempts to perfect your technique or design. The tenacity to keep after it until you’ve achieved your max potential is something that translates both in basketball and in life. Those who are willing to get in extra shots or ask for feedback or study the scouting reports are the same ones who are particularly resourceful and creative in the workplace. Other than that I would say learning how to find the role that you need to play to help the team to be successful is critically important. When someone new joins your work team, the whole dynamic shifts and you adjust to whatever is required to help the team be successful. I’m sure every student-athlete can relate to that at the beginning of every season or when an unfortunate injury occurs and someone must step up and adjust.
How has your competitive drive in basketball translated to your career?
Miranda DeKuiper: Competitiveness is an inherent quality for most college athletes I would imagine! It actually took me a bit to make sure that I redefined what “winning” was post-Hope, however. The goal was not to beat other people any longer, it became beating the manufacturing scoreboard or beating team goals. At times, my competitive nature could be misdirected — essentially my own stat line was more important than the team ‘W’ — so, once I got my priorities straightened out, the competitive drive became one of my greatest assets.
Jess Moorman: Hope WBB has a Win Everything (WE) mentality. It means that in everything you do, you should strive to win. While playing at Hope, we were told to compete every day. Whether you were competing against yourself, your teammates, or your components, we were expected to leave everything we had on the floor. In my career today, I do my best to uphold the WE attitude. I compete with myself to grow and learn a little bit more every day. My team and I compete to hit our goals and be the best we can be. The WE mentality showed me that if you compete in every situation and strive to win, good things will follow.
How has being a leader at Hope translated to your leadership role at Gentex?
Jess Moorman: While at Hope, I was able to learn of the many different qualities that make a successful leader. Qualities like empathy, communication, and gratitude are just some of the attributes that make a leader great. I consider myself very fortunate to have been a leader for our basketball team. Although the goals of my Hope team were different from the goals of my Gentex team, it is important to know that I can lead in the same way. I can still show empathy to the ones around me. I can still give thanks and credit where it is due. I can do my best to communicate effectively. Leading at Hope has taught me lessons that I will take with me for the rest of my life.
Miranda DeKuiper: I was fortunate to have great captains throughout my time at Hope, and you get exposed to different types of leaders each year on the team. Then you begin to develop your own style as a leader, and it prepared me for the less glamorous side of leadership. It’s the genuine care for your teammates on and off the court, the tough conversations, and taking responsibility for outcomes that translate most easily. So often at work, just as on a team, it’s not about the skill set that a team has, but the chemistry. Knowing how to assemble that in such a way that provides the best results is such a fun endeavor.
What inspired you to pursue your career in the first place? Is there somebody in your life who has been an inspiration to you?
Miranda DeKuiper: Perhaps not necessarily a career in engineer, but a career in leadership in a male-dominated field — Coach Hackert (Dina Disney). I had the fortune to play for Coach Hackert in high school, and she had a confidence and swagger to her that I hadn’t seen in other women who coached at the time. She reveled in beating the guys and didn’t hold back. She always had tough conversations and held high expectations while having a huge heart for her players. I’ve always admired her ability to connect with her players and put together a foolproof strategy. Those skills apply to any field and planted a seed with me to want to be able to have the same impact on others one day that she had on me. Additionally, it definitely helps to channel a little bit of Coach Hackert swagger some days in a male-dominated field like engineering!
Jess Moorman: My dad is a big reason why I am in the position I am today. Growing up, he was always fixing things around the house, and I loved to help. I loved watching him take things apart and put them back together. I learned how to solve problems from him. That is one of the main reasons that I decided to pursue engineering. My dad has always worked hard, both at work and in life. Watching his hard work turn into success has been a great inspiration for me. I am incredibly grateful to have him as my dad and I hope to leave an influence on others the same way he has influenced me.
What is it like working full-time with or for the same company as another Hope women’s basketball alum?
Jess Moorman: Playing basketball for four years at Hope was such an important time in my life. I learned so much about myself and also grew tremendously as an individual. With this different stage of my life, I am really lucky to work with someone who has gone through the same experiences I have. Miranda has not only been a great mentor to me but being able to relate to her on a Hope Women’s Basketball level has been very special. Not many people know and understand what it’s like to be a part of the Hope WBB program and it is comforting knowing that someone who does, is close by. Miranda was a great player at Hope and is a great leader at Gentex. I am very fortunate to have that connection in my career.
Miranda DeKuiper: It’s great! There’s a common language and set of experiences we can both relate to, which is even cooler considering we were not at Hope at the same time so the tradition transcends classes. Jess and I have different styles and will no doubt take our own unique career paths, but I’ll certainly always be there in her corner championing her! Hope plays, Hope wins!