As we wrap up the first quarter of the fall semester, I am struck by the excellent work happening at Hope College and what that means for bringing about God’s healing and goodness in the world. During his time on campus last spring, Malcolm Gladwell said it brilliantly: “Our nation is facing three major hurdles that affect its wellbeing: the model of higher education funding is broken; young people today face a mental health crisis; the Church is fractured, and often viewed as irrelevant.” He then beautifully proclaimed that Hope Forward addresses all three. It’s a vision in pursuit of a culture that entails community, access and generosity.
In my role as program coordinator, I have the distinct privilege of walking alongside the 80 students who are currently receiving the gift of a fully-funded tuition experience. For the first year of my role, I thought about the Hope Forward Scholars and those who champion Hope Forward as “culture catalysts” who propelled that way of existence. However, the more I engage the role I see that this vision is a natural one for Hope College: that the program virtues of community, access and generosity are not prescriptive for Hope College, but rather confirming of an already incredible Hope College.
“Generosity” can be defined as “freely and abundantly giving of oneself.” I am struck by how deeply a culture of gratitude and generosity is already present at Hope; I think about the excellent work being done here that is catalyzing such a culture:
. . . To the professor who spends hours helping a student understand a concept, an ideology, a historical reality, or an equation- you are freely and abundantly giving of yourself.
. . . To those of you who open your offices for discussion, or your homes for an end-of-semester meal- you are freely and abundantly giving of yourself.
. . . To those of you who sit with a student in moments of crises and celebration: you are freely and abundantly giving of yourself.
. . . To those of you who keep our campus clean, maintained and safe: you are freely and abundantly giving of yourself.
. . . To the students who diligently lead Orientation, MSOs, Dance Marathon, and more: you are freely and abundantly giving of yourself.
This isn’t just a future vision. The Hope College community already models and participates in a culture of generosity. Hope Forward is merely a by-product of an existing culture. So perhaps those of us involved with the program are less of culture catalysts, and might be more accurately described as culture amplifiers; that a more realistic description of what we do in the program is elevating an existing culture of community, access and generosity that was created ahead of Hope Forward. The vision is not at odds with Hope College; it is Hope College.
YOU, dear Hope College community, daily invigorate my faith in this vision, and as previously stated I believe that you are why we see the program pillars in action. As an alumna, I can say with full confidence that those along my college journey shaped my lived experience in meaningful ways that I continue to carry with me. My prayer is that as we wrap up month one of the school year, you are reminded of the ways you are already living this vision so beautifully.