You mean there is a college in the land of salt-free water, blueberries and cherries, long days and beautiful sunsets, endless sand dunes AND with a lack of stifling humidity? Never mind the snowy long winters and that dreaded “drive around the lake,” we want our daughter to go THERE! Hope College, here comes Camille, class of 2026!
We are Rachel and Kyle Herrman from Webster Groves, Missouri and we serve on Hope’s Family Advisory Council. Our daughter, Camille, is a sophomore majoring in Communication and Spanish. I (Rachel) knew of Hope College after growing up in the Chicago area and my mom had a condo and home in SW Michigan for many years and eventually retired to South Haven when our children were little. Having many special memories of the area, we camped in Van Buren State Park over COVID and decided to just do a drive-by of campus. We instantly fell in love!
Camille knew she wanted a small, liberal arts education. She wanted to be known by professors and just experience a cozy learning environment. We looked at many liberal arts colleges in the Midwest. What stood out right away at Hope was that the Admissions advisor spoke directly to Camille our entire visit. I was just a fly on the wall! It was clear that Hope was student-focused.
Camille applied and was a finalist for the Hope Forward scholarship. Even though she was not a recipient, Hope held her heart. She already felt known before she moved onto campus! She was accepted into the Phelps Scholars program and loved the experiences and friends she made through that living/learning environment. Those friends continue to be her best friends on campus. She has served as a student-advisor for a First Year Seminar (FYS) class and she is an Engagement Center Specialist with the Philanthropy and Engagement department. She did a communications internship in that same office this past summer and lived on campus. She is really blossoming into an amazing, mature young woman at Hope!
All has not been blueberries and sunsets on the beach, though. Camille’s freshman year was incredibly difficult. Beyond the general bumpiness of transitioning to college academics, her life fell apart upon return to school for second semester.
I mentioned that my mom had retired to South Haven and that our family has special memories of the area as being part of our draw to Hope. Our beloved “Boosha,” my mom, unexpectedly passed away from a stroke on January 19, 2023. Camille came home that weekend to be together as a family. That Sunday, literally while she was driving back to school, her dad collapsed after a run and experienced an aortic aneurysm just 3 days after she lost her grandma. She called me as she was pulling into Holland and I couldn’t answer as I was sobbing in the emergency room. Her other grandparents called her back and gave her the news. In a span of 3 days, she lost her grandma and almost lost her dad.
We are beyond relieved and overjoyed that Kyle survived the dissected aneurysm. He is a living miracle (Amen!). He was in the ICU and hospital for 10 days. I talked with Camille and we decided to have her remain on campus where she could maintain her social support and daily routine. Her professors were SO understanding and Hope really became her “home away from home.”
Hope really loved her in a tangible way that semester while her dad was in his long-haul recovery. Kyle is a HUGE Malcolm Gladwell fan. He had been looking forward to hopefully seeing him on campus when he spoke in March of 2023. He and Camille had listened to one of his books, David and Goliath, on the drive to drop her off at school in August of 2022. Malcolm coming to campus while her dad was on the mend felt like a little gift from God.
Camille wrote an email to President Scogin requesting to be in attendance at his talk. She let him know of her dad’s fawning over Mr. Gladwell and how they had listened to one of his books on the way to Hope and that her dad had just almost died and she was missing him. She stalked his office trying to get his attention (this made us chuckle from afar!). She had friends go up to him on campus and tell him of her plight to get to see Malcolm for her dad. It was an all-out “bring Camille to Malcolm” campaign. She did hear from President Scogin’s office in response and not only was she invited to his keynote address, she was invited to EVERY event that Malcolm participated in that weekend. She even got her picture with Malcom and a signed copy of the book they had listened to on the way to Hope. Camille cried out and Hope listened. Now THAT is student-centered love and care. Not only is Camille receiving an outstanding education, she is receiving the true definition of Hope: a feeling of trust and of good things to come. From the bottom of the Herrman Family’s hearts, thank you Hope College, for living out your values.