At Hope, you’ll often hear about how being here has changed people’s lives. While it’s become a bit of a cliche at this point, that’s because it’s true. You would be hard-pressed to find someone here who hasn’t experienced the aptly named Hope difference, and I am no exception. Here are just a few of the ways that I have been transformed by Hope. 


Coming to Hope, I didn’t expect to become someone who could hammer out a three page paper in an evening. Essay writing had always been a struggle for me in high school. Plus, since I’m a computer science major, I wasn’t exactly banking on getting much practice. This notion only solidified for me when I cried over my final paper for American Politics in the fall semester of my freshman year because I thought it was the worst thing I’ve ever written. But throughout my time at Hope, it’s only gotten easier. In fact, it’s gotten easy enough that I decided to tack on a major in philosophy, which notoriously requires a lot of writing. This is just one example of an experience that many have had at Hope. You achieve things you never thought were possible. 


You may think that it’s obvious that a Christian college would inspire you to grow in your faith. Although I did anticipate that happening, what I didn’t expect was how much I’ve been encouraged to question my preconceived notions of what it means to be Christian. While Hope itself is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, all sorts of different backgrounds and perspectives are welcomed and encouraged here. For example, Hope regularly hosts talks sponsored by the Saint Benedict Institute, which is a Catholic organization founded and run by Hope faculty and the local Catholic parish. These talks and many others hosted by different organizations are emblematic of Hope’s culture of asking questions and going deeper into matters of faith. 


In my mind, what really makes Hope what it is are the friends you make while you’re here. They’re the people who have been at my side when I’m asking those big questions about faith or freaking out about another paper. I first found this incredible community when I was a Phelps Scholar, which is a program for freshmen that explores issues of diversity. Talking with my friends in the program was always a wild ride. Sometimes we would have the most profound conversation of our life, sometimes we would crack up over a lame joke, and sometimes we would do both in the span of five minutes. This strong community is what has allowed me to experience Hope’s transformative effect the most. While we find ourselves being changed at Hope, what really changes us the most is each other. 

The prospect of being transformed may sound daunting, which I totally understand. So much is already happening in college, and having your life changed feels like a lot to handle. But in my experience, it happens when you least expect it. There have been so many times where I’ve been caught off guard by a moment being unexpectedly profound, and these moments are only made possible by being at Hope. If you’re looking to be transformed by Hope, my only advice is to buckle up and get ready for a wild and wonderful ride, because my experience has been nothing short of that. 

Published by Mackenzie Niswonger

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

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *