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.

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  1. Love the testimony. Couldn’t agree more. My wife and I are Calvin grads and at first longed for that experience for our freshman daughter. However, now that she is attending Hope, we are more than pleased with her choice and pray that God continues to lead her into the path that He has laid out for her.

  2. Such a heartwarming glimpse into the Brininstool family’s life! Their genuine warmth and love for each other shines through every word.

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