Hope College isn’t just a place; it’s a community. A regular feature within “Stories of Hope,” People of Hope explores what that means by highlighting some of the students, faculty and staff who help make the campus family what it is.

Owen Harries

Sophomore, Lexington, South Carolina

As a sophomore at Hope College Owen Harries reflects on his first year saying, “If you’re worried about not finding your crowd, don’t be. Your people will find you.”

And Owen found his people, who include both professors and students. The sophomore, pursuing a degree in biology and in English, commented, “The professors really seem to care about their classes and students. I am quite close with a few of my profs, and one may even be helping me draft the novel I’m writing. If you’re interested in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] there are plenty of professors looking for help in their labs and a wide variety of different projects to get involved with.”

It’s those personal touches that drew Owen to Hope in the first place. “The moment that fully sold me on choosing Hope College was probably when I received THREE handwritten Christmas cards (from admissions as well as my track and cross country coaches),” Owen said. “The personal touch Hope brings to the table cannot be overstated.”

Owen has found many ways to foster his community at Hope. “I run cross country in the fall and track in the spring, serve on both Student Congress and HAS [Hope Advocates for Sustainability], am a member of the Arcadian fraternity and Hope Forward, and formerly wrote for the Anchor,” he said. “It [Hope College] does a good job of being a small school with a tight knit community without feeling TOO small. Very fun, good balance of social life vs academics (maybe a bit on the academics side, but probably better to be that than too party heavy).”

In terms of his academics, the opportunities provided by Hope’s commitment to the liberal arts enable him to pursue his dream of practicing medicine while continuing to write. “The goal is to one day balance the two, working as a doctor and writing on the side as a hobby,” he said.

Owen credits the Hope Forward program with making it possible. Hope Forward is the college’s initiative to fully fund tuition for all students by asking them to contribute to the college after graduation, supporting future students as they were supported, rather than pay tuition in advance, so that they can follow their calling rather than focus on repaying loans. The program, which also explores the concepts of generosity, access to college and community, has been piloted with 80 students while Hope seeks to raise enough funds for the entire student body. “Hope Forward has made the journey much easier financially and has given me more options for medical school since I won’t be burdened with debt from college,” he said.

When thinking about his plans as he begins his sophomore year, Owen commented, “I had great experiences as a freshman with upperclassmen on my cross country team and in my various clubs (Student Congress, Arkies). A lot of older guys showed me the ropes and really made me feel welcome at Hope. I look forward to being in that position this year, getting to act as a guide for the next wave of new students coming to our school. I’d like to give them the same great mentorship experience I had.”

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