Allix Hutchison was doing Hope Forward before Hope Forward ever existed, at least according to Dave and Betsy Stavenger who never imagined their gift of a scholarship would launch an ever-growing chain of generosity.
All three Hope graduates met for the first time at a Hope scholarship luncheon. Dave ’65 and Betsy King ’66 Stavenger had started a scholarship at Hope in 2003. Allix Hutchison ’17, who was a sophomore at the time, was a recipient who was eager to meet the people who made her scholarship possible.
The Stavengers started the Betsy King ’66 Stavenger and Ruth King ’69 Seiger Education Scholarship for education majors because both Betsy and her sister, Ruth, had invested their entire careers in teaching. “And the Stavengers love Hope College!” Dave said. They built a home and moved back to Holland, Mich. to rejoin the Hope community in retirement after living in Midland for more than 45 years. Dave worked at Dow Chemical in business development and Betsy taught elementary school for 28 years.
Dave and Betsy were encouraged to give early instead of waiting until the end of their lives so that they would have the joy of seeing firsthand how others benefitted. They have been generous donors to many areas of Hope College, but their greatest joy comes from knowing they are helping students, especially because they do not have children of their own, Betsy said.
After meeting with Allix for the first time, the Stavengers met her periodically for coffee, sent her emails and invited her and her roommate out for meals so they could encourage both in their studies.
“Knowing that someone else was willing to invest in me and saw my potential means more to me than words can explain,” Allix said.
From six years old, Allix said she wanted to be a teacher to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her mother, Sherry Hutchison, had a 32-year teaching career. Allix knew Hope had the top-ranked education program in the state, and an overnight stay on campus clinched her decision to go to Hope after experiencing the kindness and close-knit community on campus.
“With a single mom, I knew I was going to have to put in the work to be there,” Allix said, referring to the high cost of a Hope education and her desire to graduate debt free.
She worked five jobs on campus, studied hard and met her goal of graduating debt free in 2017. Without the Stavenger’s scholarship, she said, that would not have been possible.
Upon graduation, she landed her first teaching job in Hudsonville Public School District. In her classroom she has hosted many of Hope’s aspiring teachers from the curriculum method’s courses, for assistance with weekly math intervention and for student teaching. She has even helped Hope graduates land teaching jobs in the district.
Only two years into her teaching career, Allix and her mom decided to start a Hope scholarship for education majors, the Hutchison Education Scholarship, like the scholarship the Stavengers started years beforehand.
“We were so appreciative of what the Stavengers did for me,” Allix said. “Going to Hope was the best experience of my life. We wanted to give back to the place that gave me so much. While it was fresh in our minds, we wanted to immediately turn around and give as soon as we could.”
Allix said she wanted to give generously right away because she was afraid if she waited that life would get busy, a husband and children might come along, and it would be harder to start. She also had the finances to do it because she wasn’t saddled with student debt.
“Giving and a spirit of generosity is more than just finances,” Allix said. “It’s about giving your time and talents, too. I wanted to stay connected to Hope and give back in the same way that I benefitted. That meant not just starting the scholarship but jumping in as soon as I was eligible to have Hope students in my classroom, being a sounding board for them, answering their questions, and helping them in whatever way I could.”
The Stavengers said that they couldn’t be more proud of Allix.
“We always encourage them [scholarship recipients] to do the same for others,” Betsy said. “That’s the best way they can thank us.”
That’s exactly what Allix did – pay it forward the Hope Forward way.
You can read more about Allix at blogs.hope.edu/alumni. She received the 10 Under 10 Alumni Award in 2022.