My Top 5 at Hope!

Last spring, the end of my freshman year, I dedicated a page in my journal to all my favorite things about Hope College. I’d only been a part of this place for a number of months and yet I loved it deeply. Going home for the summer and catching up with high school friends, I found that loving my college was not the norm. Many of these friends had very different experiences than mine– making it clear that the things I love most about Hope are not things every school offers. I can’t enumerate all I love about this place, but here are five aspects I want to share– things I truly adore about Hope College.

1: Academic Atmosphere

I love the academic atmosphere at Hope. Every professor I’ve had the privilege to cross paths with has made an effort to learn my name and know me as more than just a number. They are quick to answer questions, ask how they can pray for me, and invite me and my classmates into their lives. I’ve met faculty’s children, spouses, and dogs. I am checked in on and deeply engaged with. This level of investment is such a blessing.

2: Physical Atmosphere

The physical atmosphere of Hope College, Holland, and Lake Michigan are all things I love about this place I call home. Our campus is stunning in every season. In fall, Hope transforms into a cozy, colorful, perfect place to study.  In winter, Dimnent Chapel is covered with a glistening blanket of snow. In spring, tulips bud just in time for Holland’s annual Tulip Time festival. In summer, hammockers take the Pine Grove by storm, and the grass is greener than you ever thought possible last December. I love watching these changes unfold.

3: President Scogin

In my leadership class, we’re learning that effective leaders genuinely engage with their followers. President Scogin does exactly this– even at similar small colleges, it’s rare to have a president that lives on campus with his family, knows many of his students’ names, and eats in the dining hall with everyone else. Last Halloween, all of campus was even invited to Trick or Treat at Scogin’s house. I love that we have a president who cares.

4. Community

I also love the community here at Hope. No matter what you’re interested in, you can find people here who love the same things. There’s a jazz band, a Lego Club, and an annual Tug-of-War Contest; truly something for everyone. I found my best friends at Hope, and each semester I meet even more people who make an imprint on me.

5. Campus Ministries

I found my community primarily through Campus Ministries at Hope, and it’s one of my favorite things about being a student here. The Campus Ministries building itself is a wonderful study space budding with community and chaplains who want to get to know students, answer questions, and engage in conversation. Campus Ministries organizes Bible Studies, Spring Break Immersion Trips, chapels, and the Gathering (Sunday night services).  All of these experiences have been integral parts of my experience at Hope and I’m so grateful for all God has brought into my life through Campus Ministries.

Wrapping it Up:

Some of my classmates have known their whole lives they would go to Hope.  Others, like myself, approached the college decision with much less confidence. Do I want to attend a public school, or a private one? Big or small? Liberal arts or not? These questions rolled through my mind until spring break of my senior year. Maybe that’s you too… you, or your son, or your daughter. I was there not so long ago. But now, I’m in a new place completely. I’m at a school I can say I love. I’m surrounded by people– professors, a president, a community and chaplains– who love me. I couldn’t be more grateful. 

Away From Hope

Has it ever occurred to you that you can earn credits for course requirements off Hope’s campus? Have you heard someone talking about studying abroad?

From a first-hand perspective I can tell you to go. Go out. Explore the world studying abroad. Take a month, two months, or if you are zealous, take an entire semester to travel! There are so many options for you!

You can study Art in Austria, Education in Liverpool, Science in Australia and more! Or you can opt to study in another state, instead of traveling to another country. The world is open for you, take hold of it.

My Experience

I wrestled for a year with the idea of studying abroad. My entire Sophomore year was spent debating if it would be beneficial. If I would have the funds. If I would have the time. So, when Junior year rolled around and the email went out inviting students to apply to study abroad I shrugged my shoulder and figured it was worth at least applying. There was no guarantee I would go due to limited seats.

You can about imagine my surprise when I got accepted to study abroad for the month of May in Vienna, Austria. I also got my first pick class, Art and Architecture. I was nervous to begin raising money, and ensuring I was paying enough on time was hard. But it was so incredibly worth it.

There were some bumps in the road when I was finally in Vienna, but by the end of the month, I didn’t want to leave. Vienna had managed to worm it’s way into my heart. Sure, I was in class every morning, and there was homework, but my afternoons were free to explore and wander wherever I wanted. I got to see so much of the world.

So, battle those nerves and doubts. Take the chance. Go. Explore. Open doors that would have normally been closed.

My Best Advice to an Incoming Freshman from a Hope College Senior

From a Hope College Senior writing to an incoming Freshman, this is my best advice for you: 

Fight the urge to compare yourself to other freshmen. Every upperclassman I know can recall a moment when they called their mom on the phone and said or felt some version of, “It just feels like everyone else is doing so well, adjusting so easily, fitting in, handling the homework, making friends so much more easily than I am. Why am I struggling so much more than they are?” I cannot emphasize enough that everyone–everyone–is feeling this way, has felt this way at some point, or is going to feel it later. It’s so normal, and it’s also not forever. It may take some time, maybe even more time than you want it to, but it will get better. 

Don’t overplan your college years. I completely understand that some majors require a stricter four-year plan than others, and it is by every means responsible and honorable to want to graduate in four years with a sturdy plan in place. Not to mention it takes about one advising meeting to convince yourself that you are somehow already behind on clinical hours, or research hours or internships. I promise, there is no clear cut, perfect path to arrive at your desired future career. Plan what you can, and leave plenty of room for God to work and even change the plans you made. One of my favorite verses this last year has been Proverbs 16:9 which says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Some of my unexpected turns during my own personal journey at Hope included friend group shifts, changing my major half way through Sophomore year, and even a global pandemic that cut my Freshman year short and sent most of my classes the next fall onto Zoom. And here I am – I’m still graduating, on-time, with two completed majors, and a bucket full of amazing memories and lifelong friendships. I’m incredibly grateful that God’s plans were different from my expectations.

Leading into my next point: Be present. Four years goes so, so much faster than you think. It’s easy to feel at times that the homework is never ending, and a billion responsibilities are pulling at your attention ranging all the way from trying to find time between classes to eat lunch all the way to mapping out your future. One of the decisions I am most grateful for making Freshman year was minimizing my commitments. It’s so easy to get sucked into signing up for every club, every society, and every IM team. I am a huge proponent for trying things out, and all of those are great opportunities to meet new people. However, rest is necessary and healthy even. Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like your value is wrapped up in your involvement. Do the things you really want to do, block out time after your 8:00AMs to take a nap if you need it and know it really is okay if you don’t have plans every Friday night. 

Some practical other tips: Call your parents and siblings, they miss you. Your clothes will actually shrink in the dryer – it’s not a myth. Prioritize friendships that build you up. Seek out mentors – that is one of the greatest things about Hope. I am so thankful for the relationships I have with my professors; they want to know you! I’ve heard it said, “You’ll find what you’re looking for here.” It makes me sad that I know many seniors that wanted to prioritize their faith at Hope and didn’t make the time. Don’t miss that opportunity. Also, don’t buy coffee out everyday – I learned that one the hard way. And take lots of mental pictures of all the good days, all the hard days, and all the really normal feeling days. 

Enjoy your normal days. Someday you’re going to miss them. 

Why Hope College?

If you ask a Hope student why they chose to come here, you’ll hear different answers every time. There are countless reasons to come here. Personally, what drew me here is how Hope as an institution is often described, which is as a small, Christian, liberal arts school. 


Hope has a little over 3000 students. This size doesn’t make it feel too small, but it’s great for making close connections with both students and faculty alike. Walking around campus, it feels like I see friends around every corner. In the classroom, you’re not just a name on the attendance sheet. Your professors actually know and care about you. My general education classes have had a class size of around 20–30 people, but as I’ve gotten into classes for my major that number has shrunk, which has made me feel closer to the people in my department. 


Faith permeates the culture on campus. There are many opportunities to join bible studies, prayer groups, and fellowship with the rest of the college community. However, there isn’t an enforced one way to believe. There’s plenty of room for everyone to decide what their faith looks like, or if they even have faith at all. 

Liberal Arts

Hope’s emphasis on general education allows students to explore their interests even if they’re totally unrelated to their major. Even as a freshman, I’ve been able to explore so much of my interests that lie outside what I intend to major in. Also, it’s really easy to double major in two totally unrelated topics. I want to double major in computer science and Chinese studies. Not only do I have room to do both, I have room to take elective classes, even though I only transferred in two credits. 

There are many reasons to choose Hope, including several that I didn’t cover. However, I think the most compelling reasons come from how Hope is described: as a small, Christian, liberal arts school.

Art is a Lifestyle

“Artists have the hardest time finding a stable career.” People would tell me that I would not be successful until later in life if I studied in the arts. “Who studies art?” “What is there to learn about the arts in a classroom? Can’t you teach yourself with a Youtube video?” These are all questions that have caused me to wonder why I am studying art at Hope College. What benefit is there in studying the arts?

Well, I am here to tell you as a Creative Writing Major and Studio Art Minor that the arts are very much worth studying.

Peace of Mind

Personally art has always given me a sense of peace. I would express myself through words on a page or lines across a canvas. In my life I have struggled with a sense of self. I didn’t know who I was and art allowed me to explore myself. I would look deep inside and create images and stories with emotion and power.

Everyone I talk to who studies in the arts have expressed the same discovery. The same passion. From dancing to writing to theater or music people are given the chance to search themselves. Studying the arts may seem “useless” to some people. Yet, those words themselves are useless against the strength of the arts. Even if you do not seek a degree in the arts, just engaging in them is fulfilling.

Ability to Explore

You can change who you are through art. You could become an adventurer in a forgotten city, a scorned lover, anything you desire. To other people this may seem like an overactive imagination and fascination with fantasy, but it isn’t. It’s an exploration of the mind and strengthening the imagination so many lose as they grow up.

You can explore other worlds but you can also explore the inner mind, yourself and who you are.

Benefits of Studying

After I was asked what one could even learn taking classes on how to write I began to wonder that myself. What was I actually learning that practice couldn’t teach me? What was the benefit of writing? Couldn’t it just be a side-hobby? I would make more money studying something else, right?

While the answer to the last question is: probably, there is so much to be gained from studying an art. Personally, I have gained more wisdom from my professors and learning from their experiences than I have from simply reading. I have furthered my abilities to write in different genres successfully and explored what topics really fascinate me.

Settling is unpleasurable. Why would you settle for something you do not love purely because that was all the internet had to offer you? I settled in high school. I chose to only write the genres I read, which were fantasy in the third person perspective. Along the same lines, I only drew what others were drawing: animals and hyper-realistic people.

Studying an art can broaden your horizons. Give you a deeper connection to the world and those around you that you may have never had before. You should never let others’ opinions of your love in the arts change how you view the benefit of the arts.

Create and allow yourself to get lost in what you love. Deepen your understandings and broaden your horizons. You shouldn’t stay stuck simply because you are challenged. Be you, be true, and be creative.

The Reality of Campus Visits

I love Anchor Days–the sea of visiting students who can’t quite figure out the least awkward way to hold their bright orange folders and the parents buzzing with excitement, pride, and nostalgia, all while simultaneously feeling directionally challenged and overstimulated. I love visit days, not just because of the extra energy at chapel or the fact that Phelps will have burritos, but because they remind me of my own visit days. They provide a gentle reminder that I made the right choice when I chose Hope College. 

Many of you visiting students will have great visit days. Hope has an excellent admissions department, knowledgeable and welcoming student tour guides, an abundance of opportunities to meet with faculty and staff during visits, and a beautiful campus that seems to speak for itself. I’ll never forget how my mom gawked at every little detail of campus during my visits at Hope–even down to how nice the soap dispensers were. True story. 

Every high school senior on a campus tour is holding out for that moment that everyone seems to talk about when the clouds part, and they know in their soul that they found their school–their very own go-buy-a-sweatshirt-from-the-bookstore moment. 

I remember how badly I wanted to have my college decision decided. I loved Hope, but I couldn’t figure out why the decision felt so unclear and anxiety-inducing for me. My college tours weren’t all sunshine and rainbows. No clouds parted, no voice from Heaven told me to go buy a Hope sweatshirt, and no matter how well my tours seemed to go, anxiety turned to tears on every trip home. I couldn’t figure out why everyone else seemed so excited for college, and why I felt so afraid, anxious, and didn’t feel ready for the next season of my life to begin. 

When I see visiting students around campus that walk with excitement and anticipation, I feel so excited with them, but I empathize so much more with the students who are trying to hide how uncomfortable and uncertain they are about their futures. 

So what I would say to the high school senior who can’t wait to get to Hope next fall is: I’m so excited for you. The friendships, growth, and wisdom that Hope has given me the last four years is one of the biggest blessings of my life. Finish high school strong, hug your mom a million times a day and wear the heck out of that sweatshirt. Go crazy. 

But for the anxious visiting student, what I wish someone had said to me on my own college visits is: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Visit days are tough–it’s okay if you’re not feeling excited to leave home yet. Don’t compare yourself to other people; they’re most likely feeling scared and awkward too, even if they’re not showing it. Home is always going to be there. Trust God to give you the courage you need to take the next right step, and remember that if the school you decide to go to doesn’t feel right in a semester or two–it doesn’t have to be permanent. But right now, feel what you need to feel, sneak away from campus to buy a coffee downtown, and even cry all the way home if you need to. 

Coming from someone who did all of those things, across multiple visit days, you’re going to be okay. I can’t argue with the reality that your life is changing, but you are more ready for it than you think you are. My four years have had challenges of their own, but I am so thankful I took a chance on Hope. 

The metamorphic 8,107 miles of my college career

As an international student, it is hard to believe that a city kid like me would be going to a small town of Holland, Michigan, for college. I must admit that it was a process to go through and the fact that not a lot of people are able to have this opportunity made me appreciate this moment more. Yet, I must admit that this was quite a journey to go through as I had to make numerous sacrifices like living more than 8,000 miles away from the Philippines and leaving my family and friends behind. It was also not easy for me to accept the fact that I had to sacrifice that happiness for this. However, I think that being able to pursue so many opportunities through Hope College has made me grounded with my purpose.

In 2020, I was simply studying at the comfort of my own house and appreciating the fact that I was in college – it was something I was very grateful for. The Philippines is 12 hours ahead of Holland, which meant that all of my classes were in the middle of the night during the pandemic. However, I spent so much time with family during this time and being able to see their faces every day was amazing. Then came January 4, 2021 – the most emotional day of my life as I had to leave and go to Hope College to continue my studies. We understood the difficulties of communicating and being far away from each other and tried to make the most of what we are working with at the time.

First day at Hope College in Spring 2021.

When I arrived in Holland, Michigan, I immediately got a mild fever as I felt the shock of the snowy weather. I must admit that adjusting from a tropical to a winter climate was not the best feeling. Alongside that, I was also not completely adjusted to the time difference and being very different on campus as a Filipino international student. Yet, little did I know that these difficulties would turn into surpassing my expectations of where I am today.

From being a researcher within the STEM field to focusing a lot of work on diversity, equity and inclusion, I felt like the pace of my life drastically changed so quick to the point everyone back home was shocked. As an international student, I really tried to take advantage of all the resources I had while also learning about my limits as a person. Despite all of these successes, I also felt like there were so many failures and hardships of living far away and not sharing these moments with family. There would be times that I was feeling homesick along with being burned out from school and activities.

However, I am so grateful for the constant communication I would have with my parents online as they continued to guide me through this journey. It is sometimes hard to think of this distance, but I think that their presence really means the most to me. Below are pictures of my family from back home on both my mom and dad’s side.

As I look to the future of graduation in a year, I encourage my peers to cherish the idea of being with friends and family. I think that this kept me motivated and powered-up as an international student.

Recently, I went home to the Philippines for the first time for the holidays and it was such a magical moment to be able to laugh and be with my friends and family. I felt like a part of me was rejuvenated.

Last photo with my parents before I left for Spring 2023

I am extremely thankful for Hope College and the opportunities that I have been given as I navigate through this journey of being an international student, for my peers and mentors, and for my host families who have guided me along this journey!

Transformed by Hope College

What does it mean to be ‘Transformed by Hope’?

Being ‘Transformed by Hope’ is the idea that Hope itself can bring profound changes to an individual’s life and worldview. I find this definition to be very fitting for my time here at Hope College. When a student is transformed by Hope, they experience a shift in their perspectives, attitudes, and behaviors, leading to personal growth and positive change. Reflected in our mission statement, these ideas ring true for students here on campus. This transformation can manifest in various ways, such as understanding, resilience, determination, and a stronger sense of purpose. 

Through exposure to a diverse community and a rigorous academic curriculum, students at Hope College are encouraged to expand their perspectives, challenge their assumptions, and develop a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them. This process of growth can be challenging at times, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.

Students like myself who are transformed by Hope leave college with a renewed sense of purpose, a stronger sense of determination, and a deeper appreciation for the power of education. They are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to make a positive impact in their communities and the world at large. Whether through service, leadership, or advocacy, they are prepared to take on the challenges of the future with confidence and hope.

Uniqueness of Hope

Here at Hope, students are exposed to a unique environment that fosters hope and encourages them to be transformed by it. The college provides ample opportunities for students to be part of a supportive community, to engage in acts of kindness and generosity, and to make a positive difference in the world.  Hope College, and hope itself, can help students to see the world in a different way, promoting empathy, compassion and generosity towards others. These are the building blocks for Hope Forward, and other opportunities that arise within the Hope Community. When students are transformed by hope, they are more likely to engage in acts of kindness as well as be proactive in making a positive difference in their communities. We see this reflected in the powerful programming that is all over campus and within the students themselves.

Personal Journey at Hope

For me, being transformed by Hope meant experiencing a profound change in my outlook on life and being inspired to make a positive impact in the world. Through my time at Hope College, I have learned to appreciate the power of hope and the role it plays in shaping one’s life. Whether through personal growth, overcoming challenges, or promoting kindness and compassion, hope has the power to shape individuals and communities for the better. When we face adversity, hope can give us the strength and resilience we need to persevere. We are more likely to view setbacks as temporary obstacles rather than insurmountable barriers, and we are more willing to keep going even when things get tough. We are more open to learning and growing, and we are less likely to be held back by fear or self-doubt. This can lead to personal growth and development as we push ourselves outside of our comfort zones and strive to become the best versions of ourselves. This is a large part of my journey at Hope College, which can be heard in my senior witness, here.

Overall, my time being transformed by Hope was a transformative journey that transformed my perspective, attitudes, and behaviors, leading to personal growth and positive change. This well-rounded nature is something unique to the liberal arts education. Hope College provides students with an environment that fosters hope and encourages them to be transformed.

Living Away From Home

In my four years at Hope, I have met only a handful of people that are more obsessed with their hometown than I am. I’ve been more and more aware lately of how early in my first conversation with someone I tell them, “I’m from Petoskey!” The love I have for the little laketown I grew up in, and the community that still loves me so well from afar, will never be taken for granted. I love Northern Michigan, and I love my home. 

As you can imagine, this hometown I love was very difficult for me to leave when I moved into Dykstra Hall my Freshman year. For many, the move to college is a long-anticipated new beginning. The drama of high school is washed away, and you are presented with a brand new start. Yet, for some–myself included–that fresh start is what felt so intimidating to me. No one knew me. Even though I was excited to meet new people and forge new friendships, I missed the ease and familiarity of friendships at home. 

Aside from the growing pains of forging new relationships, I also just really missed my family. The thought of my brothers and parents sitting at the dinner table without me was unthinkable, and it was hard that I knew they missed me too. In my own personal experience, homesickness is less like the flu and more like food poisoning. It comes when you’re least expecting it, and also leaves almost as abruptly as it starts. Freshman year, but Sophomore year as well, I would have unexpected hard days where homesickness would slam me out of nowhere. But the sadness would never last as long as I thought, and before I knew it, I was back to laughing about something with my roommates. 

One of the anomalies of Freshman year is how time seems to paradoxically speed up and slow down at the same time. I will never forget how I felt after going home for the first time that first fall break in October. I had only been away from home for a month and a half, and it did feel like it had gone by fast; but at the very same time, it felt like I had been at school for years. So much had happened already. 

Moving away to college, along with forming new relationships and missing old ones, also presented a handful of more obvious and tangible challenges. In my first semester at Hope, I remember struggling to manage my time, calling my dad (so many more times than I’d like to admit) because I had locked my keys in my car, learning how to take good notes, and learning which sweaters you can put through the dryer and which you definitely shouldn’t. Moving away from home is a brand new experience, and one with many learning curves. But the best part is that you have about 900 other freshmen around you that are trying to figure it all out too. 

So to the incoming freshman reading this, embrace each new challenge with grace for yourself and an excitement to learn. Freshman year, although it’s full of so many new challenges, is really, really fun. Courageously make new friends, call your mom, figure out the person you want to be, and begin the journey of becoming that person. Before you know it, Hope will become another home you love, and another you will have to say goodbye to. And home is never quite as far away as it feels.

Student Life at Hope

Is there something that you’ve always wanted to try, but have never gotten the chance to? Do you have a hobby that you love? Do you want to spend some time on an activity that isn’t homework? If so, I have excellent news for you. Hope has a ton of ways to get involved on campus, and I’m here to highlight them. 


There are a ton of clubs on campus. There’s a pretty comprehensive list on Hope’s website, but you’ll also see them advertised around campus. I’ve been to events for Pre-Law Society, Geek Life, Hope Taekwondo, Nykerk, Prism, and Hope Catholics, but there’s even more to choose from. If you’re interested in an organization but don’t know if you can fit it into your schedule, no worries! Many clubs on campus allow you to come and go as you’re able to, so there’s no pressure. Clubs will also have events that are open to everyone, so you can check it out even if you aren’t associated with the organization at all.  

Faith Life

Faith life at Hope is vibrant! Chapel is held in Dimnent on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30-10:52. There’s also an event held on Sundays at 8 pm called the Gathering. If you’re looking for a more personal way to deepen your faith, I recommend joining a bible study. They usually run for about 6 weeks and there are tons of options to choose from. Last semester, I did the Bible Study for Skeptics and I highly recommend it if you’re a person with a lot of questions. Besides those, campus ministries will hold other events from time to time, so keep an eye out. 

Other Activities

If you’re looking for something to do, there are always events happening on campus. On Hope’s website there is a calendar tab, where all upcoming events are listed. There will also be events listed on the bulletin boards around campus, on the screens in the Bultman Student Center (BSC) and Phelps, and in the This Week at Hope newsletter to students. One recurring event to keep an eye out for is Something Every Tuesday, which is put on by the Student Activities Committee. Every Tuesday in the BSC there’s a different activity held. I highly recommend checking it out. 

Go Get Involved!

Hope has many great ways to get involved on campus, whether it’s through a club, campus ministries, or other events. Also, if there’s something you’re looking for that isn’t currently offered, it’s super easy to start your own club. So what are you waiting for? Go get involved!