Mentorship at Hope

One of the biggest things I have learned the past couple of years is the value of mentorships. Hope College has thankfully provided me with some really awesome opportunities to seek the wisdom of others. Coming into college and moving away from home, it does not take long to notice the lack of older influence in your life. Yes, it is easy to call home every so often, but I found that being able to have a face to face conversation with someone who cares about your well being and has expertise in the subject (i.e. one’s major) is irreplaceable. 

It Takes Time

A word of encouragement I want to start with is that building a relationship that turns into mentorship takes time and patience. A lot of the mentors I have now did not become my mentors until the second semester of my sophomore year and/or into my junior year. A lot of mentorships and relationships with professors develop once you get deeper into your major and more involved in organizations on campus. However, there is a lot to be said for seeking things out and not waiting for them to come to you. 

For any student that really wants a mentor at Hope College, all you have to do is ask. My freshman year, I really wanted guidance while I was working my way through the book of Romans. I had a meeting with Nancy (a Chaplin from Campus Ministries) and expressed the desire for a mentor. From there, Nancy connected me with one of her close friends that lived in Holland, who I would meet with at a nearby coffee shop. The two of us would meet every week or two and I could ask her questions about faith or about passages in scripture I was working through. 

Spiritual Mentorship

At Hope, one can gain either personal or professional mentorships. As a part of my Ministry Minor, receiving a spiritual mentor was required. I became close with the Chair of the Department who connected me to his wife Laurel as a mentor. Laurel and I began meeting two years ago and we still meet up to this day. She has played a wonderful role in my life helping me navigate situations at school, home, and in relationships. 

My spiritual mentor Laurel and I on a hike!

Academic Mentorship

Also that year, I received Dr. Stacey Jackson (known to many as Stace) as my advisor for my Business major. Stacey has played a major role in my career development and academic pursuits in college. I have gotten the opportunity to know Stacey well through a program in the department called Baker Scholars. Baker Scholars is a leadership development program that has given me the opportunity to take trips with the department, network with Hope College Alumni and participate in workshops (topics including public speaking, design thinking and conflict management). I also have had Stace for two classes, so he knows how I handle situations in an academic setting. As an advisor/mentor, he has helped me discern my career post graduation as well as the steps I need to take to get there. He also can tell when I sometimes need a word of encouragement or some grace on getting an assignment in. 

Because of Hope’s size, professors and other faculty love to play a role in students’ lives. I have gotten to know professors that I have not even had for class. They have been so happy to help whether I was seeking their professional opinion regarding their area of study or if I was just interested in hearing about their life and career path. I am so thankful for the willingness of others to speak into my life and help me discern situations in the present as well as my goals for the future

Community Forged through Unathleticism: A Take on Intramurals

My friends and family will be the first to tell you that I am not a sporty person. From watching sports to participating in them, I am usually the first to say no. However, one of the few things I have always appreciated about sports is the community that you can find within, and as a freshman at Hope, I knew that I wanted to find an enriching community.

So, in January of 2020, I swallowed my pride when asked if I wanted to participate in an intramural volleyball team, and for the first time, I willingly said yes to playing. I wasn’t sure of anything except for 2 things: that I was excited to play with peers that would hopefully turn into friends, and that I was nervous to play with my poor set of athletic skills. 

2 Legit 2 Hit

My team, 2 Legit 2 Hit, was an assorted group of people with little to no background in volleyball, which was fortunate for me because we immediately had something in common. Some of my teammates were people my friend and I actively recruited in our dorm, and others were mutual friends of those we recruited. Ultimately, 2 Legit 2 Hit was a group of people who found ways to hang out outside of the classroom, and we took advantage of the opportunity. 

A group of Hope students wearing athletic clothing striking poses before their last volleyball game at the Dow gym.
2 Legit 2 Hit at our Last Game

Our practices were exhausting and hilarious, and we quickly realized that our goal was not to play well, but to get the ball over the net. We laughed to the point of tears and played to the point of exhaustion. We talked strategy we didn’t fully understand and hyped each other up until our throats were sore. 

This hype carried into our matches against teams who definitely were more dedicated than us. But nothing mattered except trying our best and laughing it off when our best wasn’t enough. Other teams could always hear us as we screamed on the court, making jokes and bringing an unnecessary amount of energy to the Dow. If we won, it was a thrilling surprise. If we lost, it was nothing more than an opportunity to smile and bond over our effort.

Unbreakable Bond

And this bond carried outside of the Dow.  I was able to hang out with people I would have never crossed paths with. Even if we weren’t best friends, I was able to find new familiar faces on campus. Today, some of my teammates are my closest friends, and my time playing intramural volleyball Freshman year led to some of my favorite memories at Hope.

99% of the time when I’m asked to watch or participate in sports, you will find me saying no. However, I am grateful for the 1%, and for the community I found through saying yes. 

Working as a College Student

As an incoming Freshman, I knew I needed to find ways to financially contribute to my tuition and living costs, but I was concerned about how to balance college-level academics, social commitments, and a job simultaneously. As I began to look into part-time employment in Holland and attended an on-campus career fair, I was excited to discover the flexibility of working on campus. 

Working On Campus

My first job at Hope was working for the ticketed event staff. I worked home football games, basketball games, soccer games, dance performances, and theater events – taking tickets at the door, handing out programs, and greeting students, parents, and community members as they attended Hope College events. My favorite aspect of the job was the relationships it provided me my freshman year. It gave me an opportunity to meet new people outside of my classes or social spheres, and I made friendships that I would not have made otherwise. I also loved having an opportunity to connect with community members. One of the beautiful things about college is being surrounded by people your same age, but it’s so refreshing to be reminded that there is a community outside of Hope’s campus that wants to engage with students. 

One of the beautiful things about college is being surrounded by people your same age, but it’s so refreshing to be reminded that there is a community outside of Hope’s campus that wants to engage with students.

My second job on campus was working with a professor who asked me to work with him on an oral history project. The project dissected the role of diversity in West Michigan historically, and the role of the Church on such discussions by interviewing 20 influential pastors and community leaders within Ottawa County. As I transcribed and consolidated interviews, my worldview was challenged. Not only did my professor give me the opportunity to gain job experience, he gave me an opportunity to grow as an individual. 

My third on-campus job is prompting me to write this blog! Working alongside Hope’s marketing department and admissions office, my job as a content creator requires that I take pictures on campus and in Holland and write about my experiences during my last four years at Hope. This job has inspired me to be intentional in how I reflect on my experiences and be present in each moment. 

Gaining Professional Experience

Having an on-campus job at Hope is not an irregularity. Many of my friends have also benefited from their jobs working at the bookstore, library, lifeguarding at the Dow, or working on research projects with various professors in their fields of study. Jobs on campus vary based on time commitment and task responsibilities. For example, working in the athletic training department provides students with on-the-job experience, while working front desk jobs often allows students to work on homework as they greet visitors. 

“By the time senior year rolled around, I was more suited for a job where I could gain experience in a position that applied directly to my major and career interests.”

When asked about her experience working on campus, my friend and roommate Samantha Martino responded, “Hope College on-campus jobs have been able to adapt to my needs each year as my schedule and life changes. Freshman year, when I had more free time, I was able to easily find a job where I could put in long hours in a non-specialized position. During my shift, I could get some of my own work done, too. By the time senior year rolled around, I was more suited for a job where I could gain experience in a position that applied directly to my major and career interests. The versatile options of on-campus jobs have always been able to adapt to the progression of my education.”

Although my three jobs have differed in many ways, they have all provided a flexible schedule, an opportunity to make money, and unique perspectives that have shaped my college experience.

Engaging with Hope and Beyond

One of the main pillars of my Hope experience has been my involvement in clubs and organizations. While a lot of individuals think of college as a mostly academic endeavor, there is much to be said about the experiences that take place outside of the classroom. For me, an international student from Nigeria, building a sense of community was an important aspect of what I set out to do in the U.S., and the various extracurricular activities that I was a part of helped to make Hope feel more like home.

My first year was marked by my significant involvement in Hope’s Phelps Scholars Program, which is a first-year program that helps students develop the tools needed to navigate our multicultural world. With a unique combination of residential life, academic excellence, and social exploration, the program brings together around 100 students from all parts of the world and the United States, to study and live alongside each other while learning about ideas of diversity and equity.

As an individual who moved over five thousand miles to pursue my education, having a program like this serve as the foundation of my college experience was an amazing opportunity. The Phelps Scholars program provides a way for students to learn about the entire world while living at a smaller Liberal Arts campus. With friends from Malaysia, Korea, Thailand, Kenya, South Africa, Honduras and Mexico, I got to practice the kinds of conversational skills that I will need in my career. Through shared meals, all-nighter study sessions and group trips, I had the chance to learn about the different parts of the United States and what they have to offer in terms of lived experiences. Maybe most importantly, though, the program allowed me to navigate the new ideas of race that I was coming into contact with in the United States – an opportunity I am forever grateful for.

In my sophomore year of college, I found myself looking for a place that would allow me to dive deeper into some of the ideas that I was picking up from my majors in Philosophy and Political Science. When I couldn’t locate a space for such conversations, I decided to approach the Philosophy department for support and started a Philosophy club that is still in operation three years later. Through this experience, I was able to invite others into my passion while practicing leadership, fundraising and organizational skills. Hope’s campus was the fertile ground that allowed for the creation of this philosophical space and speaks to the value of a Hope College education. In the way that we are encouraged to look for ways to productively engage with the world around us, Hope’s holistic education is also preparing me to walk through otherwise uncharted waters.

During the final two years of my college experience, my engagement with clubs and activities has looked a bit different. Together with my girlfriend and classmate, Hannah Santiago, we started an organization in December 2020 that was aimed at tackling some of the community-based problems we had become interested in during college. Called the Community Healing Organization, we helped organize welcome events for international students during the height of COVID-19. We also mobilized 750 books for 26 prisons in the Midwest to support their inmate education programs and have worked with historically disadvantaged high school students to secure over $600,000 in college scholarships. Leaning again into what we see as our mandate for community development, we coordinated a welcome card writing campaign for over 300 incoming Afghan refugees. These deeds, based on our belief that the better world we all desire needs to be actively created, have been a source of great satisfaction for Hannah and me. And while we recognize that we have stepped out of the immediate Hope and Holland bubble, our work is built on the lessons of engagement that we learned from Hope’s clubs and organizations. In this way, we are living into exactly what Hope wants us to live into; a life of service that has a more global focus, and it wouldn’t have been possible without our prior commitment to clubs and organizations at Hope.

“Living Away From Home”; the words of someone who lives 20 minutes away.

Growing Up

I am from Zeeland, MI. A town only 20 minutes away from Hope College. I go home every other weekend to do my laundry for free and can call my parents whenever I need help with anything. In conversations with friends I have been informed that, “I do not have the right to talk about missing home.” While I don’t argue with their points, I do miss home.

I grew up with a close-knit family group; I spent a lot of time with my two sisters. Most weekends, I was with one of my grandparents. All of my cousins are around the same age, so we were good friends. Going to the same school and church programs, it was hard to find time when I wasn’t with my family. I was always guaranteed to have someone to talk to. My parents were a major part of my childhood – coming to every sporting event and recital and pushing my sisters and me to try every opportunity.

In high school, the only thing I looked forward to was getting to drive. It meant I could leave the house whenever I wanted and go anywhere. I could be away from my family and “have my own life.” But, I could always rely on going home at night to a welcoming, warm home. There were no worries, none that involved life at least. School was another story.

Moving to College Life

When I was choosing which college I wanted to go to, my only requirements were that it had to be small and I had to feel welcomed on campus. Hope satisfied both of those requirements and others. Sure, I wasn’t too pleased with how close to my home it was, but that was going to have to work.

Move-in day came up quickly and I was confident that moving out was going to be perfect. I would finally get my own peace and make my own decisions. My parents wouldn’t boss me around all the time.

Yet, once the last box was opened and the contents organized around the small dorm room, a strange sinking feeling crept in. I put it off until I finally hugged my teary-eyed parents goodbye. I lived so close; why was I sad?

I cried the first night in my dorm, calling my mom the following morning in tears, saying how I didn’t like being away from home and wanted to go back. Part of me didn’t believe that I had what it took to be on my own. An 18-year-old expected to “adult.” My mom just chuckled lightly and proceeded to tell me how proud she was, reminding me that I had what it took and I was strong enough.

Moving Forward

Starting a new journey in life where you are expected to be the “grown-up” after years of having guidance is terrifying no matter how close you live. There’s a chance that you are going somewhere where you might feel alone. After all, this isn’t a summer camp where you are going to be home in a couple weeks. College can keep you from your family for a month or two. The people who raised you are no longer right beside you all the time.

“You will never be alone here; there is always someone who will gladly sit and spend time guiding you.

Yet, here at Hope College you aren’t alone. There are people who will guide you through every decision you need to make. I have spent hours with advisors and professors just working through the little things. You will never be alone here; there is always someone who will gladly sit and spend time guiding you.

The Exquisite Beauty of Holland, Michigan

What is life like as a Hope College Student in Holland, Michigan?

As an international student, it was a struggle to adjust being far away from my home country of the 7,614 islands of the Philippines; it was a struggle for me to figure how to adjust within a different country, let alone a small city. I grew up in the capital of the Philippines called “Manila,” in which the region has a population of approximately more than 20 million. Moving to a small town of Holland, Michigan, in Spring 2021, I knew there were so many adjustments I would have to make. Yet, I embraced and enjoyed the exquisite beauty of Holland, Michigan, in my own little world.

Living in Holland was challenging at first due to some grocery stores and other restaurants being more than a mile away. Though the distance is easily driven by a car, that was not an option for me. Given this, I became resourceful and tried to explore as much as I could around the area and it was a decision I never regretted.

Exploring Downtown Holland

Less than a mile away from campus, there is the downtown area where there are so many shopping centers and restaurants nearby. My personal favorite is Reader’s World; I go here with some of my friends to browse the latest books, magazines and other local publications. From scrumptious desserts to exotic cuisines, there are numerous restaurants within the area. Personally, I have eaten so many times at Peachwave (a frozen yogurt place) and Mizu Sushi (A Japanese restaurant), and have made the most amazing memories within these places.

Three Hope students enjoy a meal at Mizu Sushi.
My best friends Laura Zak ’24 and Nhi Hoang ’24 for a casual dinner night out at Japanese restaurant Mizu Sushi.

Beyond Downtown

Nearby, you can go to as many parks as imaginable, where you can simply unwind and relax outside of campus. I love Kollen Park, located about a half-mile from the Holland Civic Center. Here you can enjoy the beautiful lake with the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen. I also love different Asian cuisines, and when I am craving some, I recommend going to Boba House and the Asian market. I must admit that I have wasted so much money at these places as they have everything from the best boba flavors to every Asian ingredient imaginable. There are also nearby local Latino cuisines within the area and grocery stores, such as “Mi Favorita” and “Jhomary’s Paradise” and they offer a variety of flavors that will satisfy your taste buds. I would highly recommend these small businesses!

The Great Outdoors

If you are also looking to explore more of the outdoors, I highly recommend going to the Holland State Park which is approximately 12 minutes away from campus. I have been here so much during my past two years at hope and have made the most amazing memories here. I even biked here once from Hope College with a friend during the summer of my freshman year. From hanging out with friends to indulging in some very cold ice cream, this park has been a landmark for most Michiganders.

Student standing in front of Lake Michigan.
Lake Michigan at Holland State Park in the blissful July summer weather.

A Variety of Experiences

There are so many more places I could describe to you within the Holland area. Though I have only settled within this part of the state for almost two and half years now, I can definitely say that Holland has so much to offer to Hope College students and the overall community.

Fall colored tree at Crane's Apple Orchard.
Beautiful fall tree at Crane’s Apple Picking Farm.

Hope College Senior Reflects on Why She Chose Hope

“Why Hope?”

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.

Why Hope?

I have heard the saying “when you know you know” a lot in my life. I do not think there is any statement that can be as true as that when it came to choosing Hope.

Community

When someone asks about the community aspect of Hope there are no hesitations when saying that it is one of the greatest things to be part of. Everyone that makes up our community comes from different walks of life and when we all come together, this place comes to life! Whether you are heading to Holland State Park to watch the sunset, walking downtown to grab a coffee at Ferris, or just going for a walk around the Pine Grove on campus, there are many ways to be part of the community that Hope offers.

Involvement

There are plenty of ways for you to get actively involved on campus. Here you can find things like Greek Life, Student Congress, Student Activities Committee, TEDx, and more. You also have opportunities to get involved culturally on campus by going to events hosted by the Asian Student Union, Latino Student Organization, Black Student Union, Pan-African Student Association, and more.

Are you interested in tradition? Hope College has long-standing traditions that students have the ability to get involved with each year. One example is The Pull, a 3-hour tug-of-war with a 1,000-pound rope, something you have never seen before. Held annually against the even year and odd year classes, this tradition dates back to 1989 and is the longest-standing college tradition in the nation. You can read more about The Pull here.

Academics

Hope College provides a Liberal Arts curriculum with accredited programs and hands-on learning from your very first year here. There are over 90 majors, minors, and pre-professional programs offered here. There are opportunities to study abroad for a semester or even take a May term away from home! If you do not come into your first year knowing what you want to do for sure, that is okay! You will be paired with one of our fantastic academic advisors who will assist you in finding what you are meant to do and guide you through every step of the process when it comes to applying to your program of choice!

Athletics

Here at Hope, we have impressive sports teams to cheer for along with rivalries that run deep. Anytime that team from GR comes to town, students always have a great game to look forward to. Whether it’s volleyball, basketball, or hockey, our students unite for a rivalry game. There is a wide variety of athletic opportunities that you can explore at Hope, check out their website for more information!

Not interested in making the athletic commitment but still interested in playing a sport? Every semester we offer two seasons of intramural sports! You can get a team of your friends together to play soccer, volleyball, flag football, basketball, and more! Each season ends with a playoff and it is always a fun thing to be part of. This is one of the many ways to get involved and meet new people here at Hope.

Hope = Home.

There is not one clear-cut definition of home. In fact, when you look it up it just defines the place you live, but Hope makes it more than that. With a close-knit living community and a downtown with all the comfort factors, you truly cannot go wrong. When I came to Holland for my visit at Hope I had others lined up to attend, but as soon as I left I canceled them and fully committed to coming here. To this day, I will tell anyone that asks me that it was the best decision I could have ever made for myself and I truly do love it here. I hope this place can become as much of a home for you as it has for me.

Academics at Hope as a Business and Communication Major

The First Step

I vividly remember how nervous I was about college classes as a high school student. I tend to be a perfectionist so I was concerned with not succeeding academically at Hope College when I had made my decision to attend. Thankfully, my high school prepared me extremely well, and the deeper I got into my major the more I became interested in the subject matter, which made papers and studying a lot more enjoyable. 

Hope College Baker Scholars pictured with Hope Alumni Jordan Fuller ’10 and Chris Harrison ’10 to learn about the non-profit sector and best practices when working in sales.

More than Test Scores

Hope is a lot different than big universities when it comes to academics. Because of its size, student’s grade are made up of more than just their test scores. My friends from my hometown who go to larger institutions (especially in the 100 and 200 level courses) would tell me that their grade was based on a couple of exams and maybe one large paper that were often graded by TAs. This is a scary thought considering that some students are simply not good test takers. Most Hope courses are based on exams, papers, assignments (including problem sets/case studies), and participation. I love the participation piece because it gives professors the opportunity to boost a student’s grade because they see that they are truly putting effort into learning. The small assignments given between class periods I also find extremely helpful. It breaks down the content into bite size pieces, making it easier to retain and also holding the student accountable. I know at least for me, I would not be able to get myself to study knowing that the first time I will get a grade for my knowledge would be for an exam two months away. 

Personalized Academics

My favorite aspect of Hope academics, however, is how personalized it is. Yes, at times it can definitely be challenging, but professors are not only available to help, but genuinely love it when students take initiative to come and talk to them. I’ve been able to grow sustainable relationships with professors that have resulted in mentorships as I work to discover my vocation post graduation. The professors at Hope offer to take you out to coffee to genuinely make an effort to know about your life. I have been offered research opportunities and internships they knew I would be interested in as well as baby sitting jobs with their kids. My ministry professor has set aside time to help me through personal struggles and lined up a mentor relationship for me with his wife, Laurel. Laurel and I will grab coffee, go on hikes, and sometimes I’ll even go over to their house for breakfast just to play with their dog! I also have a couple professors that know me so well, they can tell I have a question just by looking at me. Although it can be hard to be away from home for months at a time and grappling with upper-level college courses, having adult role models that genuinely care about you and your learning experience has made it a lot easier. 

Outside of the Classroom

At Hope, I am a Business and Communication double major and a Ministry minor. What sets Business majors at Hope apart in the job market is all the things that they participate in outside of the classroom. Something that has been very impactful for me and my time in the Business department has been my involvement in Baker Scholars. Baker Scholars is a leadership development program for upperclassmen in the Business & Economic Department. The application process includes multiple essays and two days of interviews. The only schools who still offer the program are Hope College and Georgetown. Currently, I am one of twelve total Baker Scholars. Because of the small group size, I have been able to make deep connections within the department. The program has given me priceless opportunities to travel, network with Hope College alumni/executives, and participate in workshops that focus on conflict management, design thinking and more. This spring, Baker Scholars are going to Amsterdam and Paris! 

Hope College Baker Scholars in Boulder, CO focusing on team building through climbing.

I have been incredibly happy with my academic experience at Hope College. Professors and peers are always willing to help, creating an extremely supportive and collaborative environment. I have felt genuinely cared for yet challenged, which I believe created the ultimate environment for success.

My Experience in the Nykerk Even Year Play

This past Saturday, Hope hosted its 88th annual Nykerk competition. Freshman and sophomore (a.k.a. even and odd year) girls competed in song, play, and oration, to take home the coveted Nykerk Cup. Those with keen eyes may have spotted me in the even year play as the totally tubular Jennifer Nicole-Heather Johnson, a student trapped in the Kruizenga Museum since 1986. But how did I end up there? Well, it started with…

The Rally

About a month before Nykerk, the even and odd year coaches, along with the Nykerk board, host a rally to get people pumped for the upcoming competition. Each area gets to advertise themselves with a short, action-packed presentation. In total, the rally lasts about an hour. But the night isn’t finished, because after that is…

The Auditions

Both play and oration require an audition. I can’t speak for oration, but the play audition was an absolute blast. We played improv games, read some lines, and generally had a great time. The next day, it was time for callbacks. This time around, they asked us to prepare a “two minute something” beforehand. It could be a song, monologue, dance, anything! I deliberated for a while about what to do, and eventually settled on a monologue from “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie”. After we performed what we prepared, it was back to more line readings. But once the callback was over, it was time for…

The Results

After a few days, each girl casted in the play got an email notifying them of the decision. The email also contained details of our first meeting, along with a line that I heard a lot throughout Nykerk…

This is a Secret!

Since its conception in 1935, Nykerk has developed a ton of rituals and traditions, all of which are only known to the Nykerk participants. One of the most important secrets was the play itself. Not even our morale boys could know what our play was about for most of rehearsals. Not telling anyone may sound hard, but having so many Nykerk secrets strengthened the bond between the play girls as we continued with…

The even year cast acts out a scene from The Pull, a long-standing Hope tradition.
One of the many even year traditions is a scene referencing the Pull. Characters briefly portray pullers, moralers, callers, and even the rope.

The Rehearsals

Rehearsals were Monday-Friday nights and Saturday mornings. That may sound like a lot, but they were at times that usually didn’t conflict with schedules. When there were conflicts, the coaches were more than accommodating. While we did run the play at every rehearsal, that wasn’t the only thing we did. There are a lot more (secret) things that happened at rehearsals, which helped us to get to know each other and our characters. Once the three weeks of rehearsal were up, it was finally time for…

Group photo of the even year play cast.
Group picture after our very last rehearsal.

The Performance

Excitement was in the air when Saturday rolled around. In the morning we had one last run-through of the show just to make sure all our set changes and sound cues were going well. Then, around 5 p.m., it was time for us to get on our costumes and makeup. While we had about two hours to wait, it didn’t feel very long. We had a fun time in the dressing room singing along to Veggie Tales songs and taking pictures to commemorate our last time performing. Before we knew it, show time came around. Our play was first up, so we didn’t have much time to get nervous. The lights came on and we performed. Although we didn’t win, we still celebrated our hard work and the community we built after the event. Nykerk may be a competition, but I think the real Nykerk was finding the friends we made along the way.

The even year play cast in costume before the performance.
Less than an hour until showtime!

Want To Get Involved Next Year?

It’s super easy to get involved in Nykerk. Just go to the rally! Even if you can’t make it, you’ll still be able to audition for the play by reaching out to the coaches. But if play isn’t for you, no problem! There’s also song, which requires no audition, and oration, which rehearses according to your schedule instead of a set one. And it’s not just girls that can get involved, too. Song and play always need moralers. So next year, be sure to check it out. I’ll see you there!

A group of even year play girls.
A very fashionable group picture at the Nykerk wrap-up event