Hello, class of 2026! My name is Carole Chee and I am beyond excited to welcome you to campus in just a few short months. Along with Amadu Bah, I am coordinating the Step2Success (S2S) program, which is an invitation-only, pre-orientation program designed for students from diverse and minoritized backgrounds. Students and their families move to campus one day early with plenty of helping hands, learn about the resources available to them, and participate in fun, community-building activities like dinner and a trip to the beach. If you qualify for this program, which runs from August 25th-26th, you have likely been in contact with one of us or will be soon!
I am a rising junior double majoring in English Literature and Women’s & Gender Studies with a minor in Sociology. I like to call this my study in stories—a focused, intentional analysis of the voices that too often go unheard and unvalued. Though I currently call Grand Rapids, MI home, I’m a Third Culture Kid (TCK) and have lived in China, Malaysia, and varying parts of the United States. On campus, I’m involved in the Asian Student Union (ASU), Hope’s Adoptee Organization, and am a former Phelps Scholar! I also run the Theatre Department props shop, work behind the Van Wylen Library’s research help desk, and edit for the Anchor Student Newspaper. If any of these are areas that you are interested in, please reach out to me! Email me at email@example.com and I would love to talk to you—as an introvert, I highly value and look forward to learning from meaningful, one-on-one conversations. In sum, I want to talk to you!
I’ve been asked to give a few pieces of advice, so from my limited experience what I have to offer are these conflicting recommendations: get involved, but not too much. One of the biggest lessons you will undoubtedly learn, in life as much as throughout college, is about balance. Through the S2S program, students are presented with a plethora of resources, each matched with a friendly face and inviting welcome. There is nothing wrong with this! Our goal is surely to acquaint you with everything Hope offers, from the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career to the many Multicultural Student Organizations (MSOs) you can join. Please take advantage of these wonderful opportunities that seek to understand and uplift you.
That being said, be sure to practice caution. I’m really not one to talk, but avoid filling up your schedule to a dangerous extent. To engage in a well-rounded college experience, as our liberal arts curriculum encourages, a vital and undervalued commitment is free time. Cushion your schedule with time to nap, to meet with a friend, or take yourself out to coffee—whatever you need to stay refreshed, healthy, and sane. That could look like anything from scrolling on your phone to pulling out your yoga mat. Don’t push yourself to move from one event to another in mere minutes. Breathe—and focus on you for a moment, no matter how brief it may be.
As you navigate this tricky time of meeting people, finding your passions, and nurturing yourself, never be afraid to Ask for Help. As a Step2Success coordinator—and more importantly, as a student and a human being—this is my favorite of Orientation’s core messages. There are an incredible amount of resources available to you simply by virtue of being enrolled at Hope College. One of these is the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), which is currently housed on 8th Street at the Keppel House. For many students, Keppel House is their strongest support system; every single day, it is overflowing with community, ranging from the Hope Advocates for Invisible Conditions to the Women of Color United. These are just two of the organizations, programming, and supports that want to welcome YOU to campus with open arms.
To get connected, follow CDI on Instagram (@hopecollegecdi), email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by Keppel House! Great connections are also Jevon Willis, the director of CDI (email@example.com), Dina Martinez-Matchinsky, the assistant director of CDI (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Margo Walters, the program coordinator, office manager, and our saving grace (email@example.com). They are always willing and eager to connect with students! Check out the CDI website to learn even more.
Another great way to get connected is through our aforementioned MSOs: the Asian Student Union, Black Student Union, Hope Advocates for Invisible Conditions, Latino Student Organization, Pan-African Student Association, Prism, and Women of Color United).
These are all resources that we stress and highlight throughout Step2Success because they are vital to finding and developing community on campus. Getting involved, meeting new people, and building a support system along the way are exactly the steps that we want to help you take! If this is something that interests you, please take advantage of these amazing opportunities throughout your entire time at Hope College. If you’ve been invited to S2S, we strongly suggest that you register! Even if you aren’t able to, we look forward to meeting you and hearing your powerful, unique stories on campus. To echo the extraordinary activist Brené Brown, “No one belongs here more than you.”