This blog post is part of a series. Read the introduction and Meet Some of Our Hope Forward Students, Why Apply to Hope Forward?, What Connections Are Hope Forward Students Making on Campus?, What Are Some Challenges to Being a Hope Forward Student? and How has Hope Forward Changed Your View of Generosity in Higher Education?

Audience member: Hi, everybody. It’s such a pleasure to hear from all of you, to see your smiling faces, and to hear your stories. …
I’m curious about a certain aspect of education that I know everybody’s talking about right now, or they should be if they’re not, and that something is experiential education, right?

So we look at learning that’s happening in classrooms and then learning that’s happening outside of classrooms, and we’re thinking about the balance between the two. …What part does experiential education have in your experience as a Hope Forward student? And when I think of experiential education, I think about off-campus study. Is this something that has been talked about to you all?

Do you all have ideas about going off campus to continue to build on that wealth of knowledge and expertise that you’re looking for to accomplish your dreams? That’s what I’m curious about.

Anna: Yeah, so there are actually two members of the sophomore cohort that are abroad right now and missing out on this wonderful conference but living wonderfully abroad.

And Hope Forward covers up to two semesters off-campus full tuition, which is such a blessing to be able to travel and not worry about where the money is coming from and getting to have those experiences that are life changing.

And so I know myself and many other members of Hope Forward plan to use two semesters off campus to see the world and get internships and just see the global society that we are gonna enter into after college.

Audience member: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Audience member: I’m curious if any of you, and some of you touched on this in some of your answers, but I’m curious to hear a little bit more about your parents and your family’s relationship to the college — and if you think that’s distinct or different because of the experience that you’re having in Hope Forward.

Sydney: Yeah, my family had never heard of Hope College, nothing. But since learning about Hope Forward, my grandma is a super fan. She wants me to thank President Scogin personally for her.

It’s just such a beautiful thing, and I think my family is so excited to be a part of it even if they’re not directly. They’re donating, they’re giving back, they’re invested in this and they’re telling their friends. And I think more people from my high school are applying this year. It’s just, I think, just spreading the word and spreading the generosity around.

Jim: Anyone else?

Cora: Yeah, I think Hope Forward, it’s made my parents think a little bit differently about what education can be. And I think for my younger brother, they’re definitely going to be more receptive to … different colleges or to just challenge the idea of a top university or top college. And that’s exciting because there’s a lot of opportunities out there.

And then my parents, they are excited about Hope College and they are planning to come and visit me at some point. I have no family in Michigan, so that’ll be nice.

Jim: And beyond Anna, how many of you have you ever heard of Hope College before now? Nobody.

Nope, nope? Okay, I understand.

Audience member: First, thank you all so much. It’s truly a gift to hear so much about your experiences and what you’re learning and the ways that you’re thinking about the world. It’s truly an inspiration.

Nicole mentioned generosity. And, Nicole, you mentioned virtue as almost an exercise that you have to do. And every once in a while, I do a new workout and I’m like, ‘Ooh, I did not know that I had muscles in those places.’ The next day, it hurts, and there’s some growth that happens through that. And I’m wondering, we’ve heard a lot about the virtue of generosity, but what are some of the other virtues that maybe you weren’t aware of — or things that you have learned that you just didn’t know existed — before being part of the Hope Forward program?

Steven: I think intentionality has been one that has been more important, and I think I’ve realized a lot more. I’m naturally an introvert.

I do not approach people. Like, it’s not my natural inclination to go to someone and talk or introduce myself; but I think there is an intentionality about what we do about the program, about just who we are as people that … we want to love people.

We want to have people know that they can be known and loved, fully known and fully loved. And I think that’s something that can only come if we’re intentional.

And I think we’re intentional with each other. We’re encouraged to be intentional with each other but also serve our community … and that can only be done if we’re intentional and looking outside rather than looking inside.

Jim: Yes you do.

Audience member: I’m gonna stand up. You all give me a lot of hope. My name’s Ann Marano. I’m the executive director of the Colleges That Change Lives organization. So, Cora… I dunno if that was scripted, but I’m literally apoplectic that you just said that. It’s been a gift to be here, and I’m just getting squishy because of everything you’ve said.

And so as I launch, no joke people, our East Coast tour on Friday, bringing the message of the 44 colleges that change lives, Hope is one of them. To students and counselors and families across the country, you are really profound, powerful brand ambassadors with excellent pitches, even though you didn’t know you had them. What do I tell counselors, students and families about this place to get them as excited as you are after discovering it kind of randomly?

Oh, and also thanks for shouting out the Admissions Office. I already texted Greg Kern.

Anna: I think what stands out to me is that Hope College cares about people, and we’re people first, human first, like Nicole always reminds us. And we’re students second and everything else third.

So, really, Hope is a place where we feel like humans first. And we can take care of our basic needs … like mental health and just succeed as people first, and then in the classroom, and then in the programs, and clubs, and organizations we’re a part of. But really, it just starts with treating us as people first.

Nicole: PAM, I think you’re in the room. Public Affairs and Marketing…

Audience member: I’m starting the hashtag right now.

YJ: I feel like some people get worried that with this scholarship, they’re making Hope cheap. But they’re just making it affordable. They’re not making it cheaper. The education here is still top notch, everything is great. So if that’s a worry, I would tell them that.

Sydney: And Hope College is a really good institution.

…we’re right there with [University of] Michigan. We’re right there with all these big name schools, and I think that’s also forgotten about as … a smaller Christian school. But it’s really good academics, so I think that’s also a good pitch.

Cora: Yeah, Hope College is rooted in faith and has strong academics and it will allow us to succeed in many different ways, so it’s very exciting.

Davi: Yeah, and I guess just as how Jesus has the ability to change each and every one of us, I feel like this program is going to change everything very fast. And to be part of a change like this, it’s just so exciting. So, I don’t know, I feel like to be on the brink of innovation, on the brink of this, it’s almost as if we’re going through … a giant jungle. But there is a path we know and we can follow. Why not be a part of that?

Anna: You’re being a part of building the program. YJ and I, last year, we were the first cohort to go through this. And we can see how the program has changed for these freshmen and how it’s gonna continue to change once they give their feedback. So you’re gonna be a part of building something special.

Nicole: Did you catch that? They’re freshman and sophomores. They’re amazing.

Okay, we have time for one more question,

Audience member [Hope Forward student]: So you guys have talked a lot about … how Hope Forward is more than just a scholarship, and it’s also a program and we do a lot to bond as a cohort. And so I know that when I received the scholarship, I didn’t know what that was gonna look like. And so I was wondering if you could speak more to …what we do as a cohort, what kinds of things we do when we meet, and what is Hope forward besides just the scholarship? What do we do outside of that?

Steven: I think one of my favorite things that we’ve done as a cohort has been serving. We went and served at different places as a cohort. And … we just have fun together … that’s something that we just do. And we get to know each other and we know each other as more than just a program. We know each other as just students that have the same vision to love people and change the way we think about people and about education and about what it means to be at a college — but also be a people that see people as humans first and that have fun together in that.

And I know each cohort has set their expectations and we’ve like signed a … covenant, yeah. But, we’ve talked about that. …We laugh and we do things that are funny, and we don’t take ourselves seriously; but we also care and we get to know each other.

Jim: As you know, these relationships you’re building now, you don’t know it yet, will last you the rest of your lives.

Nicole: Well, amen to all of that. Can we just give a massive thank you to these students and to Jim?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *