Playing Catch Up: Where Alumni-Athletes are Now?

Glenn Swier in 1976

Glenn Swier ’76

Sport: Soccer

Academic major: Psychology/Religion Composite

Athletic achievements: All-MIAA, 1973-75; MIAA MVP, 1974 and 1975

Glenn Swier has dedicated his life and career to faithful service, putting his Christian beliefs into practical application. Currently, he is the associate director of formation for ministry and director of the dual track MDiv-MSW program at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, a position he has held for the past 14 years. 

Glenn Swier today

Immediately after graduation from Hope, Swier worked on the adult psychiatric ward at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services. Later, he served with community development ministries in South Korea and Botswana for a total of four years with his wife, Ruth Muyskens ’76 Swier. Upon returning to the United States each time, Swier worked in urban ministry, first at The Other Way and then with Heartside Ministry in Grand Rapids. 

When his three adult sons were younger, Swier coached them — and a whole bunch of other boys, too — on the varsity soccer team at Grand Rapids Union High School, a role he held for 15 years. He holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan. 

Of his time at Hope, Swier says, “It was a real formative experience for me. It awoke my sense and awareness of a bigger world. It made me ask, ‘What does a Christian do who takes his faith seriously when there’s a lot of injustice that goes on around the world? What is my response to that?’”

Swier has spent his entire career giving his answer.

Linda Percy in 1983

Linda Percy ’84

Sport: Volleyball

Academic majors: Mathematics and Accounting 

Athletic achievements: All-MIAA, 1982, 1983; MIAA MVP, 1983

To know much of Linda Percy’s journey, all you have to do is look at her passport. Percy has traveled the world as a wildlife conservationist and foreign service officer, using her knowledge of accounting and finance to move her along the way. 

Immediately after graduating from Hope, Percy worked as an accountant for Whirlpool in Michigan, and then as a CPA at DeLoitte and Touche in Chicago and London, England. She left that latter post to become a financial consultant for Shell Oil in Bulgaria, where she also taught at the American University in Blagoevgrad. But, after working two full-time jobs for two years, Percy decided to take a six-month “walkabout” around Australia and New Zealand, and “eventually I landed on the African continent,” she says. 

Linda Percy today

Since 1995, in Africa is mostly where she has stayed. Percy has worked in wildlife conservation in Cameroon, Congo, Uganda and Gabon as well as in Fiji in the South Pacific. “I started out at Hope as pre-veterinary,” Percy explains. “I love animals. But when I got a B+ on my first bio exam, I knew I needed to switch majors since at that time you practically needed a perfect 4.0 to get into vet school. I really enjoyed math and accounting and was inspired by my Hope profs. I’ve been blessed to use my financial background to travel around the world and try to make a difference.”

Since 2008, Percy has worked for the U.S. Foreign Service, first with the U.S. State Department and now with USAID. Fluent in French, she has worked in Haiti, Mali, Senegal and now Uganda with those two organizations.

Percy is also the parent of two adopted children from Liberia,
a son (20) and a daughter (17).

Paul Lillie in 2000

Paul Lillie ’00

Sport: Tennis

Athletic achievements: MIAA MVP, 2000; All-MIAA, 1998-2000

Academic major: Biology on a pre-med track

Paul Lillie’s route toward working in the world of law took an academic path first through the natural sciences. As a biology major, Lillie had planned on having a career in medicine, taking all the pre-med requirements to enter medical school. But he changed his mind late in his college career and decided medicine was not for him. For a few years after graduation, he worked as a full-time tennis instructor and boys and girls high school tennis coach in Minneapolis. Then in 2005, Lillie enrolled in law school at Hamline University. He received his J.D. in 2008.

Paul Lillie today

“It was good that I had gone through the whole pre-med process,” says Lille, looking back. “My education at Hope was excellent. Not only did I learn a lot through the liberal arts, I was set up well to go into law. I had exposure to many academic areas and the scientific background, specifically, lent itself to law as far as the technical aspects, breaking things down and analyzing them.”

Today, Lillie is an account manager for the Thomson Reuters Corporation in Chicago, working with lawyers daily to market and sell different solution-based products to law firms.  

When he’s asked to recall his fondest memories of college, Lillie says, “The people come to mind when I remember Hope. I met so many great people. My academic advisor, Maura Reynolds, was fantastic and a great supportive influence. I had many excellent professors, my tennis coach (Steve Gorno), who valued academics and being a good person both on and off the tennis court, and my teammates who became lifelong friends. At Hope, I felt like I had the complete college experience, academically, athletically and socially.”

Sheri McCormack in 2013

Sheri McCormack ’14

Sport: Cross Country, Track and Field

Academic major: Spanish with a chemistry minor on
a pre-dental track

Athletic achievements: Cross country — All-MIAA, 2011, 2013; MIAA MVP, 2013; 17th place at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships, 2013; Track — All-MIAA, 2012-14; 6th place in the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships, 1500 meters, 2014

Sheri McCormack had — and still has — a way of putting smiles on people’s faces. McCormack consistently achieved at a high level to the delight of her coaches, professors, family, friends and, of course, herself. Now practicing general dentistry in Goldsboro, North Carolina, she earned her doctor of dental surgery degree from the University of Michigan in 2018 and also completed a residency at East Carolina University in 2019. 

Sheri McCormack today

Today, her running is limited. “The last race I did was the Boston Marathon in 2016,” she says. “I actually try not to run too much anymore because I really want my knees to work when I’m 70, and I’ve already put a lot of mileage on them.”

Asked her most memorable class at Hope, McCormack does not reference a science or major class. Instead, she remembers her freshman First-Year Seminar, taught then by Rick Dernberger. “The class was called ‘Crucial Conversations’ and we had to buy a book with the same title,” she recalls. “It gave a lot of really great tools when talking through difficult situations. It’s always helpful to know how to do that no matter what stage of life you’re in. I still have that book. I loan it to friends quite a bit because a lot of people do have high-stakes conversations. I read it in 2010 and over nine years later, I still reread it to think about the techniques. That class transformed the way I talk to people.”

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