Going into college, I knew I wanted to go beyond the typical experience. I wanted something that challenged my preconceived notions of the world and allowed me to encounter things I’ve never experienced before. That’s why I applied to be a Phelps Scholar.

The Phelps Scholars at the beginning of the school year. See anyone you know?

What’s a Phelps Scholar?

The Phelps Scholars are a living-learning community for first-year students. We are based in Scott Hall, but that’s just one part of being in the program. In the fall semester, all Phelps Scholars take the same First Year Seminar (FYS). We do readings written by people from all walks of life and have in-depth discussions about what we’re learning. Our FYS culminates in a presentation on an organization that shares the values that the Phelps Scholars hold. Examples include the IWW, School of the Americas Watch, and the Catholic Workers Movement. During this semester, we also have volunteering placements that allow us to become a part of the greater Holland community. In the spring, the Phelps Scholars take a class that continues the themes from our FYS. While it can vary, this year our options are Encounter with Cultures, which explores cultures outside of America, or Intro to American Ethnic Studies, which explores diversity in the United States. Throughout the year, we have various trips and events that expose us to different cultures and round us out as students.

Our Professionalism & Presentation with Professor Pocock event. He taught us a lot!

My Experience So Far

While it’s certainly lived up to the expectations I had going into the school year, the Phelps Scholars program has given me so much more that I didn’t expect. Namely, the Phelps Scholar community is greater than I ever could have imagined it being. From impromptu movie nights to euchre tournaments, it feels like there’s always opportunities to grow closer to the people around you. Especially now that it’s the spring semester, I feel like I see friends everywhere I go, which is in large part because of the program. Even though the Phelps Scholars program only lasts through your first year, I can tell that I’ve made friendships that will last for a lifetime.

Cookie decorating at the dorm Christmas party


Check out our web page to learn more about what the program offers. Then, you can apply by submitting an application online. I highly recommend submitting an application, it’s easy and totally worth it!

Published by Mackenzie Niswonger

Class of 2026 Hometown: Gladstone, MI Majors: Computer Science and Philosophy

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