By Skyler Adams ‘13
My time at Hope was…to sum it up in a word…surprising. You might be surprised to see me pick that word (see what I did there?). I choose that word because I never thought I would end up at Hope.
My whole life I saw myself at a big state school, and being that I grew up in Holland, I figured I would put some distance between myself and the town that I spent the better part of 9 years in. Thanks to some last minute persuading from a high school theatre director in conjunction with one of my best friends choosing to go to Hope, however, I dove head first into the Orange and Blue.
Surprise! This school changed my life, and I can’t even begin to imagine where I would be if it wasn’t for the four years I spent on that campus. I changed those 4 years. I mean, everyone changes from 18 – 22, and I get that, but I changed for the better.
I changed into the man that I want to be for the rest of my life, and that’s pretty cool.
Now, there are a lot of great things and opportunities at Hope, that’s for sure, but I don’t necessarily attribute this formational maturation to the opportunity I had to go to Liverpool (though, that was awesome), or how I was able to be a part of the Theatre and Music departments while focusing my studies on the Transcendentalist movement and Stephen King novels (yes, I took an English class all about Stephen King). It wasn’t even the packed chapel services, with the great music and speaking that allowed me to focus on my faith in an intentional way – in a way that was totally my own for the first time in my life. Don’t get me wrong, these things helped, but what really made the difference was the people.
The people. That’s the surprise. Hope is filled with people who care. I say it in a simplistic way, because it is that simple – these people are at Hope because they care about 18-22 year olds and this crucial period in their life. Insert here, Professor Verduin.
I had Professor Verduin for 3 classes. Professor Verduin was one of those people. Although she wasn’t necessarily the professor that I would go to coffee with, and talk about things that were going on in my life (though I did have those professors), and she wasn’t a professor that I dined with in her home (though I did have those professors as well), she pushed me like I had never been pushed before…and I know now, 3 years later, that it is because she cares.
I can’t tell you how often something I learned in her class comes to mind. Maybe when I am typing an email to a faculty member and I remember a grammatical rule that she corrected me on 100 times. Or maybe it’s when I’m on the bus, listening to a Stephen King novel, because she introduced me to the complexities of his work. Or maybe it is when I show up at 8 am for work, because she got sick of me showing up late and told me. I liked literature before I came to Hope and before I met Professor Verduin, but she made me love it. She made me care.
I now reside in Chicago, Illinois, working as the Coordinator of Recruitment, Marketing and College Relations for Chicago Semester, following two years working in the Hope College Admissions Office. As I reflect back, I’m not sure if I ever said thank you to Professor Verduin…but I am so thankful. I’m thankful that she pushed me to be every bit of who she knew I could be. I’m thankful for the people of Hope. I’m thankful for that community. I am thankful for who I am today because of that community. But most of all, I’m thankful I was pleasantly surprised.