This blog post is part of a series. Read the introduction here.

Let’s meet the students and our wonderful moderator, Jim McFarlin.

Jim McFarlin ’74 and the Hope Forward Student Panel at the Catalyst Summit on the campus of Hope College in Holland, Michigan – March 2023

If you haven’t met Jim yet, you’re in for a treat. Jim is an award-winning freelance writer, editor, proofreader, media coordinator and marketing consultant. He’s a proud Hope alum and a trustee. And he is the most recent member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame where he will be inducted next month. So, please join me in welcoming Jim and our students.

Jim McFarlin: Thank you, Nicole. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re out of time, so thank you for coming. (audience laughing)

Ladies and gentlemen, flying Dutch people, boys and girls of all ages, thank you so much for being here.

I have been looking forward to this moment for many weeks since I got a chance to meet several of these young people in a virtual meeting.

Malcolm and I were talking to, well … actually, Mr. Gladwell and I were chatting the other day, and he said to me that he told Matt Scogin: ‘You’re doing this all wrong. Don’t go out and solicit money.’

‘Send these people because they’re so outstanding. They’ll sell Hope Forward for you.’

And in getting to know them individually, in a group, I cannot agree more. They have brightened my heart and spirit as to the future of young people at Hope College. They’re amazing to know, and I want you to get to know them now.

Hope College hosted author and journalist Malcom Gladwell during the day-long “Catalyst Summit”. Subtitled “Access and Innovation in Higher Education,” the summit is bringing together thought leaders from a variety of fields to consider new ideas and spark meaningful conversations about how to fix higher education’s broken funding model.

Cora Adam is a freshman at Hope. She’s from Minneapolis and she’s planning to study biology and classics. And she’s interested in pursuing medicine, especially in public health and preventative care research. She’s engaged in the Pre-Health Professionals Club, Hope Catholics and the annual Pull on campus.

Anna Whittle is a sophomore from Louisville, Kentucky, an environmental studies major with minors in peace and justice studies, and women and gender studies. Her grandfather was a professor at Hope in the ’70s, and she grew up hearing stories about Hope College, how wonderful it was in Holland, Michigan. She’s so thankful to be a part of the inaugural Hope Forward cohort.

Sydney Miller is a freshman at Hope, pursuing a degree in nursing. Her dream is to help families and babies in the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] so she may provide the same hope to them that other medical providers gave to her family.

Yoon-ji “YJ” Lee is a sophomore at Hope studying health and physical education. He’s from Seoul, South Korea, but grew up as a missionary kid in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He hopes to change and impact high schoolers and share the gospel as a teacher and coach. He believes that he is part of Hope Forward and understands that God is the one who led him here to Hope.

Steven Awad is a freshman at Hope, studying biology on the pre-med track. He was born in New Jersey. His parents are Egyptian. He lived in Dubai, moved to Maryland, and now, at the pinnacle, lives in Holland, Michigan. He is also pursuing a career in medicine as a neurologist and sees the importance of having Christian doctors who excel in science by holding firm to their faith.

Davi Araujo is a freshman at Hope College studying biology. He’s from Brazil, but grew up as a missionary kid in Bangkok, Thailand. He wants to pursue a career in biomedical research and use his gifts and talents to help others because he sees that it is the least he can do for everything God has done for him.

Jim: So are you guys familiar with the term “elevator pitch?” Okay. The richest man in the world is in the elevator with you. You can’t believe it, but there he is. You’ve got the time from the ground floor to the top floor to tell him about Hope Forward. That’s the pitch. So, Cora, let’s start with you. What would you tell this guy about Hope Forward? Sell it.

Cora: Okay, here I go. Hope Forward is more than a scholarship because it’s funding education for a student, but also students in the future. And what’s beautiful about Hope Forward is that it’s more about giving than receiving. Anyone can get a scholarship that the school is willing to give, but not everyone can have the opportunity to receive a scholarship with tremendous gratitude that they’re willing to push it forward to generations to come.

Jim: David, can you add, augment to that?

David: … I think what I would say also is that, yeah, it’s way more than just a financial model. It’s generosity at its purest form. Basically, you’re receiving something that is, coming from me, something that I never thought I would be able to receive. But now that I have it, I can’t wait but give it back to other students who may be in the same shoes as I am. And more than that, what you put in is what you get out of it, and I can’t wait to see what this will become in the future.

Sydney: Yeah, I think for me the biggest thing about Hope Forward is just hope. Like, you’re giving all these families the hope that maybe they didn’t think they would get. Like, for me, you know, college is expensive. Like, I didn’t think I’d end up from Iowa to Michigan, and I didn’t know I was going to get out of my home. But I think for a lot of people that hope, this is a new journey God’s providing for you. And, just like being able to give that back to people the way these generous donors have given it to me is just really incredible.

Steven: I think it’s also, and Cora kind of touched on this, it’s a character scholarship. It’s not one that’s just based on a checkbox or that we’re saying, ‘Well, I have this GPA and this number, and so I want money and a scholarship.’ And I think we get this education, and we can give out of an overflow of not just being financially able to do that but of heart and of generosity and of receiving and giving…rather than just an out of an obligation — that we just have to give to get something, but rather we give because we want to. We give because we’ve been given.

Anna: Yeah, I think when I think of Hope Forward, I think of community and the community we are able to form with one another and the larger community of Hope — and just being a part of a community that wants to all seek positive impact after college and not be burdened by student debt. So we are in this together as a family almost, and we have each other’s back.

YJ: I would tell the richest guy in the world that this is something, it’s like the biggest investment and trust a college can give to a student. And when a 17 or 18 year old is given that much investment, is invested by that much, I feel like it changes your daily life. It really does.

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