I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed myself up for summer research at Hope. I thought it would just be something to put on my resume, but it ended up being so much more. By the time research ended, I found myself with new friends, an app on the app store, and a vision of what my future could look like. 

Going back to Holland

After one week at home after exams, I was back in Holland. Although Holland wasn’t new to me, my life looked vastly different compared to the school year. Instead of the familiarity of the on campus dorms, I was in a cottage on 14th Street, which I certainly wasn’t complaining about, especially since it was air conditioned. I also had a car, which allowed me to go to places in Holland that I wasn’t able to before. These changes made it feel like I was in a new world, and in this unfamiliar environment, I found myself growing anxious. What would research be like? Could I handle such a different schedule from the school year?


Although I was nervous going into research, that feeling quickly went away. I discovered that I got along well with everyone else in the computer lab. In addition to this, learning a new programming language wasn’t nearly as difficult as I anticipated. We were given a week to get familiar with it before we were expected to start working on our project, so I felt prepared when it came time to put what we learned into practice.

Once we got into the swing of things, time flew by. My partner and I got in contact with Kids Hope USA, the organization we were working for, to get an idea of what they needed. While we were coding, we did both front end and back end development for the app. This included designing the app layout, making connections to Kids Hope USA’s WordPress website, enabling users to send messages and reports to the organization, creating app-specific features, and more. We worked in two week periods, and at the end of each we released what we had developed.

Although we accomplished a lot over nine weeks, it wasn’t all work. We enjoyed lunch from the computer science department once a week, which gave us a chance to talk to each other and the professors that led our projects. Also, when we found ourselves in need of a brain break, we played one or two (or more) rounds of hangman. This routine continued throughout the summer, until we found ourselves at the end.

Before I knew it, summer research was over. As one last hurrah, the computer science lab went to eat breakfast at the Windmill in our pajamas. After getting our stuff out of the lab, I began my drive home. Although I would miss the life I had while doing research, I was excited to see what the future had in store for me. This experience affirmed that app development is something I would like to go into as a career, and I was (and still am) looking forward to when my next app development experience will be.

Want to apply?

If you want to apply for summer research, I highly recommend it! If you’re interested, her are a few things I did that made the process a lot easier. First, I went to the Klooster center. Despite what you may think, the Klooster center isn’t just for classes. I took my application essay there and the mentor I was paired with helped me make it the best it could be. Besides going to the Klooster center, I also set up a meeting with the professor whose project I was most interested in. The idea of doing so didn’t even cross my mind until a friend with more research experience encouraged me to do so. I was nervous, but meeting with the professor helped me get a better idea of what the summer would look like. So if you want to apply, go for it! It’s worth it!

Published by Mackenzie Niswonger

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

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