A common question throughout my last four years. My answer always danced between a number of responses: a flood of unsolicited Hope propaganda from extended family, a phenomenal admissions rep, or Hope’s Christian-based education. Although all of those answers are true, none of them encapsulate the root of my decision to come to Hope.
“I wanted so badly to be excited about my next phase of life, but instead I was so sad to leave the hometown I loved.”
The truth is, my college search was not an enjoyable time for me. It consisted of many school visits that all left me fearing an unknown future. I wanted so badly to be excited about my next phase of life, but instead I was so sad to leave the hometown I loved.
When I stepped on Hope’s campus, I remember longing for confidence that Hope was the right place for me. I had heard so many stories about students’ “I knew this was where I was supposed to be when–” moments, and I wanted that clarity for myself so badly. I never got the clouds-parting, voice from Heaven saying “Kiley, go to Hope College” moment. And yet, as I walked around campus with my mom, we were greeted by so many students that smiled at us, gave us directions, or offered up extra seats at their table in Phelps. I was overwhelmed by how far the students went out of their way to make us feel welcomed.
Not in one abrupt moment, but as kind interactions accumulated throughout the day, I began to feel a sense of peace and thought, “Wow, I can see myself here.”
Now, four years later, when I am asked that same question –“Why Hope?”– it takes on new meaning. Why did I stay? What made this school all that it means to me?
“Hope is a community whose students accentuate empathic listening, faculty engage with students beyond the classroom, and our culture sets an expectation of kindness.”
I am led to reflect on the same community that brought me here. Senior chaplain Trygve Johnson says so often to visiting students, “Choose a people.” The students and faculty are what truly make Hope all that it is. Hope is a community whose students accentuate empathic listening, faculty engage with students beyond the classroom, and our culture sets an expectation of kindness.
My story of my four years at Hope is the story of the people around me. Classmates challenged my perspectives, professors have gone above and beyond to personalized learning, and advisors have walked with me, metaphorically and literally, through my four years. Beyond the classroom, Hope has given me space to cultivate lifelong friendships.
My freshman year of college, I was assigned two roommates. Quickly, these two strangers I was sharing a room with became my closest friends, and we have been inseparable ever since. Although I understand that being best friends with your Freshman year roommates may be uncommon, I am so grateful for them and for so many of the other friendships Hope has provided. Every year, my community of friends has expanded through bible studies, intramural sports teams, other extracurricular activities, and even just getting to know my classmates.
So, why Hope? Because Hope has provided me with relationships that will extend far beyond my four years of undergrad. Hope is a place where students are known and can find belonging in a community that cares for them and wills their success.