Meet the Schoonover Family

It’s hard to believe that Spring Semester 2024 is almost in the books! As members of the Family Advisory Council, we wanted to share a quick note. Our youngest, Kristian, is finishing his freshman year while our oldest, Erik, graduated in 2021 and is finishing a PhD. in geology. Erik just married a fellow alum, Maya (Hecksel) Schoonover, and she is completing her doctorate in audiology this June.

Living in Indiana, Hope is approximately three hours away. We have close friends in the Grand Rapids/Rockford area who are also supportive for any additional issues or challenges (like needing a ride to the GR airport!). This distance from Indiana has also been useful in building independence and problem-solving for both Erik and Kristian.

As parents, we often forget that this journey to adulthood is not a linear path. Discernment during college and finding a ‘true calling’ is not easy. Hope offers such a wealth of support and mentoring, areas that have been quite helpful for Kristian as he is looking to bring together his interests in international business and data science. This summer, he is planning on an internship at a computer company in Germany and additionally looking at a semester abroad in his sophomore year. We are also grateful for the level of mentoring that we see Kristian getting, and that Erik and Maya received as well. Seeing the great foundation that Hope has given each of them reminds us how truly special this undergraduate experience is.

Just recently, we visited Hope and were discussing next steps. Besides all the fun summer planning, we started thinking about …how are we are going to get all this stuff back?! From a practicality standpoint, we have used the large blue or clear bags from an unnamed Swedish discount furniture store and those sturdy black/yellow bins. Move-out is a great time for families to review what worked, what did not, and do some overall spring cleaning. Move-in for fall will come just as fast and (learning from our oldest!) it was so helpful to tackle the unpacking at home before summer gets underway. Using those bins, we reorganize what they want to bring back in the fall and pack it away, giving them an end of summer boost by being ahead of the return to Hope packing.

Be it planning for summer or next steps in his education, we are continually pleased to see the support Hope has for our student, helping to guide his educational plans to meet his changing future career goals. We wish all of you and your students a wonderful summer!

Meet the Brininstool Family

When orange and blue are best for YOU!

We are Mark and Jennifer Brininstool, and we reside in Grand Haven, Michigan with our three daughters (Kennedy, Brooke & Parker). Kennedy is a sophomore majoring in business and accounting. We are members of the Hope College Family Advisory Council and have enjoyed our interactions with fellow members, past and present. When asked to write this blog post, I was initially skeptical, as we live approximately 25 minutes from the Hope campus and I didn’t know how our experience might resonate with readers.

As graduates of Michigan State University, Jennifer and I did our best to make sure our girls got their fair share of green and white, while also having the Spartan fight song emblazoned in their mind early and often during their formative years. We attended many sporting events, including baseball, hockey, basketball, volleyball and football (including the Peach Bowl victory in 2021).

When it came time for Kennedy to begin searching for colleges to attend, how would the process go? Would she schedule several in-state and out-of-state visits to large schools? Secretly, that was my hope. After those visits would she end up at Michigan State? Secretly, that was my hope.

Much to my initial surprise, there were no out-of-state school visits. Upon further inquiry, there wasn’t a desire to attend a large school far from home. I’m not even certain an application to Michigan State was completed. Surely everyone wants the largest and most recognizable of everything, right? Not so fast. What I wanted and what worked for her parents was not what was of interest to Kennedy. I had to adjust and we visited schools that were a better fit for our daughter. In all honesty, I was dispirited with what I saw until we toured Hope College on a cold and rainy November morning. “Aha, this is impressive!” Jen and I exclaimed during and after the tour. Meeting the admissions representative for an hour over coffee at Panera a few weeks after our tour? Yes, that too was impressive and appreciated! This ‘little’ school not far from our home had suddenly jumped to the top of the list for everybody. After acceptance to other universities, Kennedy received countless letters, postcards, and other correspondence from Hope. I have said it many times and continue to say it when I speak of Hope: every point of contact was top notch and the personalized letters were distinctly different.

Upon acceptance, Kennedy was apprehensive about the cost of attending. We ultimately concluded that if she immersed herself in the campus, friends, clubs, etc, the incremental cost as compared to her other options should be viewed across the next 60+ years, not simply the next 4 years, and we could and would make this work successfully.

Kennedy has excelled in her academic pursuits and made new friends, all while working in the Center for Leadership as well as a local retailer. While these days of academic rigor and work can be strenuous, they act as a soft training ground for the eventual real world that awaits. The short distance between campus and our home is traversed more frequently than maybe I envisioned, as are the number of phone calls (typically to Jen), but if this is what is needed by Kennedy to produce her results, how can I complain? While it’s unknown whether Kennedy attends chapel, I have encouraged her to, especially during stressful periods when a short respite with an uplifting message will do anyone well. Among the many other benefits, I have found chapel to be a great way to reset and refocus. It’s akin to an extra shot of caffeine. There are times when I wish we were closer to campus so I could receive this boost more often.

As I was writing this, Kennedy called to inform me that she today met with the Chief Financial Officer of a local restaurant group where she has worked since she was a teen, receiving a summer internship offer to work as part of their accounting team. Kennedy will be able to combine her classwork with her knowledge of restaurant operations to assist in the timely preparation of monthly financial statements for management analysis. Hope is everywhere: the Chief Financial Officer is a Hope business and accounting graduate! This community really is transformational if you keep your eyes and ears open for such signs.

Over the past months we have traversed a similar college decision path with Brooke, and with a few short weeks remaining until her high school graduation, she’s narrowed her list down to, primarily, Hope and Michigan State. I have subtly (or not) made the case for Hope, but it seems that all the green and white that she was fed as a child cannot be overturned. Alas, we will have to adjust again, but this will be more difficult, as it won’t be Hope and it will be further away. We will certainly re-read other blog posts for tips and tricks, as well as be able to better relate when parents discuss the trials and tribulations of being a greater distance from their children.

The college decision path has been eye-opening for our entire family and will continue to be so into the future. We have found many different approaches, from mass produced mailings to hand-written letters, from large group tours to individual tours. We have found that one size does not fit all. Thankfully, we have found that Hope College will forever be a part of our journey.

When You’re a Hope Parent and a Hope Staff Member

Jen Ryden, Jill Nelson, and Cindy Kleinheksel have a few things in common. Notably, they all serve Hope students through Campus Ministries and they all have daughters who are first-year Hope students. I asked if I could sit down with them and learn a little more about what it’s like to be both a Hope parent and a Hope staff member. Their responses may surprise you!

With all of you in mind as our audience for this conversation, I asked, “What do you wish more families knew about Hope?” Cindy was very practical, citing the cost of laundry, the necessity of a parking pass if you bring a car and the benefits of starting Hope with extra credits in your pocket from high school. Jill emphasized that there are opportunities for 1:1 interaction with staff and faculty members at every turn. Whether it’s a professor, a coach, Campus Ministries or Student Life staff, Hope is so relational. If your student is struggling, they just need to reach out and they will find support. Jen built on that sentiment saying, “You have to ask. Don’t be afraid to ask.” People will bend over backward for you, but they generally won’t know that you need help unless you ask for it.

All three women emphasized the importance of students building a positive relationship with their academic advisor. “If you have a good relationship with your advisor, they will go to bat for you!” We hope that all student-advisor pairings are great, but if you are truly not meshing with that person, you can make a change. Again, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Next, I asked about any lessons that they learned after their college student moved out. Cindy’s response was immediate. “The importance of prayer. Your hands are tied when they’re not with you. All you can do is pray and know that God loves them more. That’s where my husband and I have grown most in our prayer life together.” Jen spoke about the importance of allowing their independence. “You have to be able to say, ‘This is something you can do. You can figure this out,’ while still making them feel supported.” Jill added, “And sometimes they will fail. And they will learn from that too.” All three women shared the impact that was felt at home after their Hope students moved out. Whether you have younger siblings grappling with that missing person, or you’re finding your footing as an empty nester, the dynamics at home are sure to change.

We closed by chatting about boundaries. Boundaries seem to be a key ingredient in a healthy relationship, even when you are sharing the same campus! Jill, Jen and Cindy each spoke to the importance of allowing their student to take the lead in setting boundaries around when they will talk or meet up. Jill mentioned Life360 and how it took some time for her to remove her daughter, which was ultimately the best decision for both of them. College students need to have some freedom to make mistakes, to ask for help and to build trust with you in this new season of life.

I wish everyone reading this could sit down and chat with Cindy, Jen, and Jill. It’s likely that your own Hope student already knows and loves them. If you think your student could benefit from personally connecting with any of these women, I hope you will encourage them to reach out.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Hope Families!

To all of our Hope families, you may not hear it nearly enough, but your students love and appreciate you in a major way. Read on for a few love notes from Hope College students.

“I love that my family comes to my events at Hope so that they can see what I’m involved in!” – Aine S. ’24

“I love that my parents push me to be independent but still help me when I need them.” – Anna K. ’24

“I’m so happy to have my family close so I can see them every day!” – Simon A. ’24

“I love that my parents are always so selfless and care so much about me and my siblings.” – Justin K. ’24

“I love how my family is always there for each other. We can always make each other laugh and have a good time. I miss them when I’m away at school!” – Tess T. ’26

“My siblings and I are really close in age and I love that we’re so close to each other.” – Owen G. ’26 (and Evan G. ’27!)

“I love how supportive they are of me through everything I do.” – Alex S. ’24

“I really appreciate how close my family is. When anything good happens, I can always check my phone and my family will be the first people to congratulate me.” – Erika M. ’25

“I love playing card games and hiking with my family. Even though we’re geographically spread out now that we’re older, the ways we still connect are really special.” – Clara V. ’24

“We’re all super close. I can rely and depend on my siblings 100%.” – Gordon V. ’24

“I love how supportive everyone is in my entire family. We might go through a lot, but everyone will always be there to help each other out.” – Maddie D. ’26

“I appreciate how encouraging everyone in my family is. Whatever choices I make, they’ll always be there to encourage me.” – Henry N. ’26

“The thing I love about my family is they’re there whenever I need them, whether it’s academics or my personal life. They encourage me to do my studies and duties with zeal.” – Daniel B. ’24

“The thing I love most about my family is their constant support… and the good food they give me.” – Madison P. ’25

“I love that my family is supportive of me, no matter what I do.” – Mackenzie H. ’24

“I’m grateful that my parents have supported me with everything I have ever wanted to do. They always want what is best for me.” – Luke G. ’26

“My family is in Wisconsin, so I’m grateful for a family who welcomes me home and for all the time that we spend together.” – Ellie D. ’25

“I’m thankful for my parents for adopting me. They are so loving and caring.” – Joe D. ’25

“I’m thankful for the constant words of encouragement that they have given me over the years, and for easing any anxieties that I have about the future.” – Alyssa F. ’25

“I appreciate how my parents have navigated the season of me moving out and gaining independence. But I still rely on their support!” – Aidan O. ’25

“I’m thankful for my parents pushing me to pursue my biggest dreams and always giving me love and support.” – Abigail K. ’25

“I love how both of my parents demonstrate selflessness and have sacrificed a lot for me to go to school far away. I’m thankful for their unconditional love.” – Christian C. ’26

“My parents have helped me out my entire life, especially coming to Hope, and have supported me in everything I do… even though some of my decisions haven’t been the best. Thank you for all that you do, Mom and Dad!” – Nolan K. ’24

“Something I love about my parents is how strong their faith is and how they exemplify that through their lives.” – Theo R. ’25

“I love that so many of my siblings have gone to Hope and that we’re able to bond over our shared experiences.” – Nick D. ’24

“I love that my family is so invested in everything that I’m doing, especially when they get super excited about things that I’m working on like Dance Marathon!” – Isabelle V. ’25

“My family has always pushed me to be the best version of myself. They’ve opened up endless opportunities for me that I will forever be grateful for.” – Stella F. ’27

“Even from Cincinnati, Ohio, my family does not stop supporting me and my siblings. They make it to so many games and trips up to Holland. I am so lucky to have parents who care so much about us and love us so well.” – Annie L. ’25

“What I love most about my family is that they always make sure I am well-fed… even when I’m not living at home!” – Fernando L. ’26

“The thing I love most about my family is their constant support and knowing that they will always have my back.”- Olivia S. ’27

“My family always supports each other first, and without them, I would have never been able to make it to where I am now, which is what I am most grateful for.” – Kristian S. ’27

“I am grateful for my family’s overwhelming support through school, and especially through my four years at Hope!” – Jenna S. ’24

“My favorite thing about my family is that they’re just the perfect amount of weird. Every day I get more grateful for the way they raised me. I can talk to them about anything, and they are all willing to keep learning and growing together! It’s a blessing to have a family wonderful enough to miss.” – Molly M. ’26

“My family means a lot to me, especially my younger brothers. We have always been there for each other and I am so thankful to have them in my life.” -Camille H. ’26

“What I enjoy the most about my family is the fact that we can just laugh. No matter if it’s laughing at someone or something or about something or someone I can always count on them to make me smile, even if I really don’t want to.” – Grant E. ’27

“The thing that I love most about my family is how supportive they are and how much fun we all have together.” – Tyler E. ’27

“The reason I love my family so much is because they offer me the most unconditional love there is. Through the times I haven’t loved myself, they always have and will.” – Ava D. ’26

“My family is always supporting and pushing me to become the best version of myself; I am extremely grateful for all of their love and advice!” – Kennedy B. ’26

“Even while being in California, my parents have gone above and beyond to be present through every step of my journey at Hope. I couldn’t ask for better examples of what it looks like to live in a way that honors God.” – Cam S. ’24

“I was prompted in a class the other day to write about traits I admire in others. The two traits that came to me instantly were if someone is disciplined and emotionally intelligent. Then I took a step back and realized that those are some of the two most profound characteristics in my dad and mom respectively. My dad is one of the most disciplined people I know, if he knows something has to get done, it will. And my mom is the sweetest, kindest, most empathetic and compassionate person I know. She is always encouraging us, her kids to feel our emotions and legitimatize and validate how we feel. I see those two characteristics in myself, and I’m so proud to be the son of two people who are loving enough to want to pour into their children.” – Jules H. ’25

Meet the Hidalgo Family

As parents, watching our college-aged children struggle to find friends can be heart-wrenching. We want nothing more than for them to thrive socially, as well as academically. For each of our Hope students, freshman year, first semester was a real struggle. Looking back, that shouldn’t have come as a surprise. During our son’s first year, our youth pastor asked us how he was doing. We told him about some of the struggles. His response was enlightening…

Freshman year is the worst social experiment ever. You take a bunch of 18-year-olds who, for the last 12 months, have been celebrated, have had minimal obligation, and haven’t really needed to make major decisions. Then, you throw them all together into an environment where they don’t know anybody, they have all sorts of responsibilities thrust upon them, and they’re told, ‘Go ahead now and make your own decisions’. Yes, most of them struggle with this.” If nothing else, it was good to hear from him that our kids weren’t the only ones in this boat.

The good news though is that both of our children not only survived but have thrived. Our daughter graduated with deep, sincere friendships that are continuing to grow post-graduation. And our son, a current student, is constantly talking about the rich relationships he has in a variety of contexts. So, how did this happen? Well, why don’t we hear from them.

From Molly, Class of 2022:
It’s hard to find friends in college. I struggled just as much as the next student. But as I look back, I have a much different perspective. This is what I would tell my freshman-year self if I could sit with her today: First, remember that you already belong. I know that sounds annoying to hear, especially when it can feel so lonely. But with your Hope College acceptance letter came a place for you at Hope College. Change your mindset from “If I find my place” to “When I find my place.” And remember it takes time. You cannot build fulfilling relationships in your first month at school.

Second, say yes as much as you can, but be intentional with your yeses. I found that relationship and belonging happen in the “in-between.” Relationships are built at the late-night study groups, the walk to the Chapel after class, or in line at Phelps – those small in-between acts. When I say “say yes” I don’t mean sign up for everything. While clubs, sports and other on-campus activities are great ways to meet people, they can burn you out faster than you think. Don’t over-commit. You cannot build lasting relationships if you are constantly running from activity to activity. Pick one or two to try out, looking for the opportunities that will put you in the “in-between.” Say yes to the small things and be intentional with your big yeses.

Lastly, stop comparing yourself to others. It’s easy to see a large group of freshmen at Phelps or playing frisbee in the Pine Grove and wonder, “How did they make friends so fast?” Or maybe it’s seeing upperclassmen and envying their friendships. Just remember each of your classmates is in the same position you are in or was in that position. Every person on campus experienced freshman year and dealt with the same struggles and emotions as you. The best thing you can do is understand that everyone is on their journey, and you cannot compare yours to theirs.

From Jules, Class of 2025

I found my people the latter half of my second semester, freshman year. It was after spring break. My roommate introduced me to some cool people he had gone on an Immersion trip with. I was invited and accepted into that friend group, and we started hanging out. I really found my people there. In the second semester of my sophomore year, I decided to rush. I was a little nervous that I would lose those friends because of the time and social commitment of being in a fraternity. I expressed those concerns to some of the members in the fraternity and they assured me that they had the exact same worries when they were joining. What they found, however, was total support from the guys to be a part of the fraternity, but also keep the relationships they already had, working to see them flourish outside of the fraternity.

So, I’ve found a group of guys through my fraternity that love me, support me and will always be there for me. They also encourage me to have outside relationships. It’s not an “us or nothing” situation. I’m learning that the key to having a good relationship with anybody, the key to finding your friends is finding people who meet you where you’re at, who are there for you, who encourage you to pursue the good things that are already in your life. These are relationships that don’t pull you away from those good things. I’ve been able to find this in my friends who are in Greek life and my friends who are not in Greek life.

So, what have we as parents learned as our children have traveled this journey? A few things…

Keep the Communication Open
We worked hard at striking the right balance between letting them have their space, and hovering. It wasn’t easy. But we were proactive, looking to establishing open lines of communication via regular check-ins through phone calls, texts or video chats. We did a lot of listening, allowing them to share their experiences, challenges, frustrations and triumphs. We tried to be supportive listeners, offering empathy, guidance without judgment, and every once in a while, a little advice. By fostering a safe space for expression, we found that we were able to strengthen trust and deepen our connection.

Respect Their Independence
While it’s natural to want to stay involved in their lives, we realized that we had to respect their newfound independence. We sought to avoid micromanaging or helicoptering, and instead, tried to empower them to make their own decisions and learn from their experiences. Of course, we’d offer guidance when needed, but we also gave them the space to navigate challenges independently. We’ve seen them grow in independence and in their ability to think critically when solving problems.

Be Present and Supportive
Even though we’re only 40 minutes from campus, there is physical distance. So, we look for ways to remain present and supportive. When Jay is in Holland on business, he checks in to see if the kids are available for lunch or dinner. We attend family weekends, sporting events, or performances, when possible, to show our support and interest in their college experience. We have been intentionally getting to know their friends, and their friends’ parents. We ask about all aspects of their life, not just academics. We sport our Hope College swag at home and around town, not just during campus visits. And of course, we serve on the Family Advisory Council. These are just some examples of ways we’ve sought to actively participate in their college experience, thus showing our unwavering love and support.

Freshman year is the toughest year, but if they can get through that first semester, they are on their way to an amazing experience. Our hope is that this article may provide a nugget or two for you as you look to guide your student to great things.

Jay and Janice Hidalgo live and work in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They have four children, one of which is a Hope graduate, Molly Hidalgo ’22, and one of which is a junior at Hope, Jules Hidalgo ’25.

18 Quick Tips for Snowy Days!

The Hope College Families Facebook group is brimming over with collective wisdom and experience. As we faced the first major snowstorm of the year, many family members chimed in with words of wisdom for surviving and thriving in a Michigan winter. Read on to see which tips you might need to put into practice!

  • “Layers! And stay dry. Love Smartwool socks (available downtown on 8th Street for those who need them ASAP!) and I’m a big fan of hand warmers (disposable or reusable) tucked in my coat pockets.”
  • “Staying hydrated is just as important in cold temperatures as it is in warmer ones.”
  • “Keep a shovel to keep in your car for when the plow buries your car in its spot.”
  • “Don’t walk on the Lake Michigan ice shelf!”
  • “If you are prone to depression in the dark winter months, get help. Van Wylen Library checks out therapy lights, professional help can also be useful and some people need medication or medication changes for SAD.”
  • “It’s a tricky time of year and important to have strategies to cope with winter and dark early evenings, like scheduling social get togethers, working out, eating healthfully or yoga, whatever tools help you. I eat sunshine fruits every day, like oranges. Vitamin C helps and gives me a boost :-)”
  • “You shouldn’t have exposed skin really for any amount of time in this polar vortex weather. Have extra sets of gloves (mittens are warmer) because they will get lost :-)”
  • “Get out and EnJOY! Have a snowball fight- build an igloo- or a snowman- it is so much fun when there is snow!!❄️❄️
  • “Raise your windshield wipers off the windshield so they don’t freeze to the windshield.”
  • “Keep your gas tank at least half full.”
  • ““Black ice” is a real thing. I’m sure Hope works very hard to clear pathways, but be aware that a thin layer of snow – or worse yet, water/melting ice – over any unmelted ice is a serious slipping hazard. Just noticing if ice has fully melted before the next snow is helpful.”
  • “Kitty litter and a small shovel can be helpful to keep in your car in case you get stuck.”
  • “Super light weight long underwear from Costco under your jeans. And wool socks!”
  • “It was a cold day, long ago on a different campus when my forehead became frostbitten while walking to class. I didn’t want to mess up my giant ’80’s hair by wearing a hat. I’ve been paying for that decision ever since. So, wear a hat!”
  • “Function over fashion 😉
  • “When driving always have a snow brush and your coat in the car and gloves. Your car might breakdown, so toss a coat and gloves in the backseat even if you are a non-coat-wearing person.”
  • “Being cooped up indoors can bring on anxiety and restlessness. Get a good workout in at the Dow and break a sweat. You might even meet new people!”
  • “Don’t lick the flagpole!😆😆

Meet the Knoester Family

Our collective story of Hope is a circuitous one, full of rivalry, partnership and unexpected joy. Where to start?  

Growing up I (Peter) always had one foot on either side of the Calvin/Hope divide. My parents, Pat and Arie Knoester are both Calvin graduates yet my uncle, Tom Davelaar, has held down the Hope bench in epic on-court matchups over the years (especially memorable in the nineties against my cousin, Calvin standout, All-American Chris Knoester.) 

Given the tangled family Calvin/Hope dynamics I was torn when it came to deciding where to attend college as I wasn’t ready to hang up my soccer boots and had grown close to Hope’s coach at the time, Steve Smith, over my high school career. Ultimately Calvin was the right financial choice for me and my family, but I thoroughly enjoyed the on-pitch battles with the Flying  Dutchmen each year. 

The decision to attend Calvin was much easier for Sara as she was heavily recruited to run track. She had immense success in the classroom and on the track as she and her 4×400 relay team were 3-time national champions during her tenure. 

Jonah and Aidan (Class of 2027) prematurely came into this world while I was in my third year of medical school at the University of Michigan. After spending the first couple weeks of life under the round-the-clock care of an elite team of NICU nurses and physicians at Mott, our identical twins finally made it home. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if any of the four of us were going to make it through those first 6 months, but somehow we managed to find our way with the help of family, our village and plenty of coffee. 

As we were waiting in the back of the sanctuary on the day of our boys’ dedication, our pastor turned to us and asked if we knew what parenting was all about. With glazed-over eyes we turned and looked at him and braced ourselves for a three-part sermon, but were pleasantly surprised by his simple yet profound advice; 

Parenting is all about letting go.” 

We have come back to this pearl throughout many seasons over the last 18 years, and it continues to serve us well as parents as we have walked alongside our boys as they navigated the waters of college selection, and through their first semester at Hope. 

At the completion of my training, we decided to move back to West Michigan to be closer to family. The best job opportunity at the time was with Macatawa Anesthesia at Holland  Hospital. What was once “Babylon” had now become our home. We would eventually settle on 12th Street in the Historic District, and grow to embrace the Hope community.  

Coach Smith opened up the beautiful pitch at Van Andel Soccer Stadium for pick-up soccer games for our boys and their friends and other kids in the Holland community. They both attended Hope Soccer, Science and Kirk Cousin Football camps in the summers. Sara and I developed deep friendships with Hope professors as well as Hope grads throughout the community.  However, we eventually moved back to Grand Rapids so that our kids could have a more diverse and inclusive, Christ-centered academic experience.  

As Aidan and Jonah started to stretch their wings and dream of life after high school they initially imagined going to college in some place warm year-round with plenty of sunshine (we didn’t blame them as these Michigan winters are too dark and dreary for our liking). They also informed us that they didn’t feel strongly about going to the same college, but they each expressed interest in careers in medicine and dentistry. Knowing the amount of time, discipline and sacrifice that goes into schooling for those careers, we encouraged them to also look for a school that would be able to help them pivot if they decided to change their trajectory. Small liberal arts schools where they can get to know their professors, and that also provide a robust core curriculum, offer just that. Given Calvin and Hope’s amazing track records in admissions to medical and dental schools, we naturally encouraged them to consider both. But we did so with reservation. 

Being one of the few people of color on campus in the late 90s came with its own set of challenges while attending Calvin (and Hope at the time was no better.). The ‘white-centered, Christian Reformed’ worldview was deafening at times as it left little room for a more globally inclusive witness of lived experiences of people both within and outside of ‘the Church.’ Representation matters from the classroom to the workplace. I/we craved a more robust social and learning environment back then and now for our children. Calvin and Hope have made great strides over the years at becoming more diverse and inclusive communities of learning, but both have a ways to go in becoming a safe place for their pupils and educators no matter how they identify.  

Our boys initially recoiled at the thought of attending either, but their resolve was no match for Kelly Wolters, Nate Haveman and the rest of Hope’s admissions team! 

They were hooked halfway through their Scholars Day visit. Not only were they impressed by the Hope students and professors, and what they had to share, but they ultimately felt seen and embraced. Hope felt like home.  

Even as the acceptance letters from other colleges they had applied to rolled in, they were certain Hope was where they wanted to spend their next chapter to learn how to become better ‘human beings to other human beings’ and set a firm foundation for their careers.  

Sara and I made a hard sell for Calvin, but did so while ‘letting go,’ and couldn’t be more proud of them and the decision they each made. They are both in the Phelps Scholars program, which has allowed them to grow in intentional community with their peers from all walks of life. Phelps has helped them engage in difficult conversations, learn how to actively listen and have their eyes and hearts opened to a more diverse human experience from their classmates. They have also spent time volunteering in the classrooms at Jefferson Elementary and Harbor Lights Middle School with I AM Academy, a non-profit based in Holland helping to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline of minority students through mentorship and providing these students with a glimpse of their future as students of color in places of higher education. 

Jonah and Aidan have had their fair share of highs and lows as they have navigated their first semester at Hope, and the ‘letting go’ has looked different in each situation. It has looked like moving them into the dorm in 90 minutes because Hope’s move-in process is flawless, and then saying our goodbyes and driving away. It has looked like phone calls late at night with illness, trusting that they are taking the correct medication and getting enough sleep. It has meant not checking our Find My Phone app to make sure they are back in their dorms every evening. It has meant listening when they are disappointed with a lower grade than they were hoping for in biology, and trusting that they are learning how to use their time more wisely to study for the next exam. It means letting them choose if they want to exercise, go to chapel, join a fraternity, eat fruits and vegetables, or go to bed before midnight! It has been a learning curve for all of us.  

As we continue to loosen our loving grip on our children, we are beyond grateful that they are at an academic institution that humbly attempts to do its part in the redeeming and  reconciliatory work of Christ and invites them to be co-conspirators on that journey. This sparkle has caught their sister Micah’s eye and she has already set her sights on being part of the Hope Class of 2031!

For One Hope Family, It’s a Very Merry Swiftmas

For the Scott family of Naperville, IL, this year will be a very merry Swiftmas! 

The Scott family has always gone big with their holiday light display. This year, the “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” movie inspired them to put a different spin on things! When you take a closer look, you will find album covers, friendship bracelets (Hope!), Travis Kelce on the roof, and a variety of “easter eggs” that only true Swifties will understand. Amy Scott is emphatic that this is truly a whole family effort. As soon as Hope students Rebecca and Emily pulled into the driveway for Thanksgiving break, they were up on ladders installing giant friendship bracelets around trees in their yard. 

Rebecca, a freshman, and Emily, a senior, both run for Hope on the cross country and track teams. This year has been a meaningful one for the Scott sisters! Up until this year, Emily frequently traveled home to see her sister, who was grappling with frustrating health challenges. The two sisters have always been a major support system for each other, and Emily was a big part of the reason why Rebecca ultimately chose Hope last spring. While they both stay busy with friends, athletics, and academics (Emily will be student teaching this spring!), they have established a tradition of “Sister Sunday.” Every Sunday, they intentionally meet for dinner or Captain Sundae. Amy was quick to offer to “sponsor” this weekly tradition, loving that her daughters were prioritizing time with each other.

While the entire Scott family is looking forward to a break from school and a series of peaceful days together, you can be certain that their holiday lights will continue to draw carloads of Swifties. In the words of Amy (and, ahem, someone else we know…), “We’ll leave the Christmas lights up till January.”

Meet the Herrman Family

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.

Encouragement from Dr. Ellen

I am a parent of a college student. I want my student to have an exceptional experience that helps him emerge into adulthood. I am guessing you have similar dreams for your Hope student! I offer a few bits of perspective on college student development for you to consider. 1) College students learn and grow when they are challenged coupled with the right amount of support. Students grow in self-confidence and build a skillset when they are able to take steps to work through a challenge. When a student has a positive outcome, it helps them develop a healthy sense of self-efficacy, the feeling that they can do it. 2) Developing confidence and a belief in one’s capacity to succeed requires the student to take action, to practice skills, and to follow through. Sometimes, as parents, we want to help our kid so that they live a less anxious or stressful life. Although well-intended, trying to fix an issue for your college student can rob them of necessary growth and development. Here is a perspective check: Do you plan to call their boss once they start their first job post-college if they are having a hard time? Probably not. So, while they attend Hope College, help them to have experiences to help them grow and develop. When they text or call to say they are struggling, encourage them to seek resources that are available here. We have people here to help them navigate just about anything they need. When you have questions or are looking for more support from Hope, we hope that you will contact Katie DeKoster, Hope’s Director of Family Engagement. If she doesn’t have the answer, she will connect you with the person who does. We look forward to working with you as your students forge their own path here at Hope.