Find Your Home

By Rourke Mullins, Hope College Senior

Here it is, you’re 18 years old and the moment in life has come where you are asked to answer one of the most important questions of your life, “Where are you going to college?” It’s a daunting question that for myself, created a pit in my stomach. I didn’t know how to navigate my way through these feelings and the endless amounts of college mail my mom would throw on my desk. I know I am not alone in this feeling. So, the question is, how do we answer this question that carries more weight than most of us have ever dealt with?

For myself, I swung and missed at my first try. I had decided to attend a university for all of the wrong reasons. I choose it because, in reality, it was a cop out. It was a choice that had the lowest amount of risk and a choice that revolved around things that did not matter. I quickly realized this and had to force myself back to square one and ask, “Where am I going to college?” This time, the once impossible and scary question now seemed so clear. I am going to go home. Not back where I grew up home but a place where I feel at home. This moment is when it all changed for me.

I made a list of all the reasons of why I loved home and some of them were comfort, peace, and the feeling of being wanted. I took on my new college search with clear eyes and a heart that was looking for this new home that I was so hungry for. By the grace of God, I was led to this small Liberal Arts College on the West side of Michigan called Hope College. A place where you walk down the street and are able to say hi to your friends or complete strangers, a place where you can get incredible coffee and have conversations that will change your life forever, a place that hold’s you close during dark times and celebrates your good times. It’s a place that I now call home. A place where I feel comfort, peace, and the feeling of being wanted.

Here I am 3 years later looking  back on my experience and what a journey it has been. So if you are in the place that I was in, scared by the thought of where you will attend college, I encourage you to change your perspective. Allow yourself to look at colleges not as where you will be leaving your home to go to, but look at colleges as were your next home will be. For myself, I have found a home in Hope forever.

STEM + Fun = ExploreHope

Throughout the weeks of June and July, the halls of Schaap Science Center bubbled with activity as hundreds of children excitedly chattered about newfound lessons as they clutched goodie bags full of goofy but cool science projects. This summer marked the 20th year of Hope College’s annual ExploreHope camps, hands-on workshops meant to stimulate love and learning  for youngsters in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and while ExploreHope promises kids a great time, it also provides an outstanding experience for Hope students who use their knowledge and leadership as ExploreHope staffers. With this unique opportunity, Hope students get to flex their creative and scientific muscles and share their enthusiasm for all-things STEM.

With this unique opportunity, Hope students get to flex their creative and scientific muscles and share their enthusiasm for all-things STEM.

In July, I talked to Hope junior Elizabeth Woodford who served on the ExploreHope staff this summer. Elizabeth is pursuing a bachelor of science degree in chemistry with a biochemistry emphasis, with minors in English and neuroscience as well so she’s quite qualified to teach a variety of different subjects. Plus, she loves getting kids, especially high schoolers, passionate about the sciences.

“I hope the kids have as much fun in the labs as I do,” said Elizabeth. “Sometimes I think I may be more excited to get to do some of these experiments and demos than my kids actually are.”

“Also, getting to write experimental design with my coworker Mimi Stalls was a lot of fun, too,” Elizabeth added. 

Any given day at ExploreHope is bustling with hands-on learning. The 50+ camps typically run in three-hour time blocks in either the morning or afternoon, with a few all-day camps thrown into the mix. The teachers, or counselors, lead the kids through entertaining and engaging activities. Those activities are designed to explain a particular field of science as well as to get kids — elementary to high school — excited about that field. New camps are created each year, too  —  Tinker(bell) Engineering and Experimental Design being the newest addition in 2017 — meaning there is something STEM for every camper.

While younger kids focused on science basics, high school camps are more oriented toward preparing the participants for college-level science classes, specifically labs. They conduct actual experiments and, in the end, walk away with experience and knowledge under their belts, making them better prepared for their freshman science classes when they reach college.

The children watch their Hope teacher blow on a wok containing the nitrogen, then “ooh” and “ahh” as they see the teacher’s breath create a cloud of ice crystals.

So, what’s the crowd favorite at the camps? According to Elizabeth, it’s the liquid nitrogen and dry ice demo. In this experiment, the teacher shows the campers how sublimation works through dry ice, along with the freezing ability of liquid nitrogen. The children watch the teacher blow on a wok containing the nitrogen, then “ooh” and “ahh” as they see the teacher’s breath create a cloud of ice crystals. The children are also stunned when their Hope teacher freezes a banana using liquid nitrogen and then hammers a nail into a piece a wood with the frozen fruit. (That would stun me too!)

Other popular activities at ExploreHope include field trips to the veterinarian, creating slimes and polymers, building lego robots, and performing flame tests on powders. When the week draws to a close, campers leave with a packet that reviews everything they did that week — including directions to redo some of the experiments at home (except the one with flames involved!).

Overall, ExploreHope is a formative opportunity for any kid — elementary to college —  to play with slime, “blow” things up,  or even design their own labs. In general, learning and loving science is what ExploreHope is all about.

Read more about ExploreHope camps on the Hope website and in The Holland Sentinel story.

Need Me This Summer? I’ll Be in the Lab

Meet Anna Lunderberg. Don’t let the relaxed pose in the hammock fool you. This summer, Anna is hard at work on campus, doing things like studying the brain tissue of rats and running Western blots. (Yeah, I had to Google that, too.)

Anna, a soon-to-be sophomore at Hope, is collaborating with biology and chemistry professor Dr. Leah Chase on neuroscience research through the summer. For Anna, who is still uncertain about her major, this is a great opportunity to explore possibilities.

Anna came to Hope last year thinking she would be a physics major. During the summer of 2016, before her freshman year had even started(!), she participated in lab-based research at Hope with physics professor Dr. Jennifer Hampton. During the fall semester, Anna continued her physics research and participated in Hope’s Phage Discovery program. Students in this program do microbiological and molecular research to isolate, identify and investigate phages (viruses that infect bacteria.) They then share their discoveries in public databases used by researchers worldwide.

So, by the end of her first year, the Phage program had made Anna a bona fide researcher. What’s more, the program drew her into the biochemistry lab, where she discovered interests beyond physics.

Today in the lab, Anna is conducting research that will benefit mental health treatment. She studies rats that have been exposed to a derivative of homocysteine, a chemical found in higher concentration in the blood of individuals with neuropsychiatric disorders. She then determines if these rats respond better to lithium, a common treatment for bipolar disorder, or ketamine, a common treatment for depression. Using Western blots, Anna also studies how the proteins in the rats’ brains changed. The goal is to better understand the neurochemical changes associated with neuropsychiatric disorders.

“Even though things don’t always work the first time, it’s such an amazing feeling when things go right or everything falls together,” says Anna. “Procedures don’t always go well, but this is a universal part of science, and there is such a supportive environment here since everyone is going through the same thing.”

On any given day, Anna’s work is varied and well-supported, thanks to the active summer research community at Hope. She may be running tests in the lab, examining published research in her area, presenting her own findings to faculty and students or participating in weekly seminars. And, with programs like Chemistry Club’s Tuesday night beach picnics, she’s having fun with others her share her interests.

At Hope, you’ll hear a lot about collaborative student-faculty research. You’ll also hear about opportunities to participate in graduate-school-style research. Anna Lunderberg is making the most of both of these, and in the process making Hope a better and more interesting place.

Senior Struggle #6: It’s OK to Want an End

As I get ready to graduate, I have to keep this saying in mind!

Hello, readers! I hope your week is going well so far! We have five weeks of school left, and those weeks are flying by! The time passing quickly is sad as I realize that my final year of college is coming to a close, but at the same time, I’m happy that it will be done soon and I will be able to start a new chapter of my life.

Throughout this second semester, I’ve felt that it hasn’t been okay to feel that I wanted college to be over. College is supposed to be the best four years of your life, right? While these years have been amazing, I feel like there is a reason that college is only four years: because at this point, I’m supposed to grow up. I’ve outgrown communal living where I have to share a bathroom (even though I’m living with my best friends), I’ve outgrown classwork, even though I know I’m learning a lot in my classes, and I’ve especially outgrown the feeling that I have to do everything and be busy to be the best version of myself.

I’m ready for independence. Hope has prepared me well to use the skills I’ve learned in class for internships and jobs. I’m ready to live into things I’m passionate about and I’m ready to say no to things that are a source of stress. I’m ready for my own space; I’m ready to find out who my close friends are, and I’m ready for a new chapter of my life to begin.

For a long time I thought that this readiness wasn’t normal and that I was being selfish because I wanted to move on from college. I would suppress these feelings and try to be sentimental when people asked me if I was ready to graduate. “No way!” I’d say, “I want to stay here forever!” But that wasn’t true!

Although Hope has given me skills and memories that I’m thankful for, I don’t think this feeling of wanting to move on is bad for me. It’s one I’ve definitely had to come to terms with, but I think every senior has been or is going through the struggle of feeling like they want to stay and go at the same time. What’s important is knowing what these feelings mean for you individually, and how they affect you.

Whether you’re a freshman or a senior and these last weeks come and go, enjoy the time you have left at Hope, but also be at peace with what you’re feeling. Until next time!

Principles of Microeconomics

Since, I am Management major Principles of Microeconomics is a must-take class. It is not terribly difficult, but harder harder than Principles of Macroeconomics. But I am not really talk here about what we study in Microeconomics, but more the difference between the Management and Economics major. I was an Economics major, then I declared a Management major with an Economics minor, and now I am only Management major.

For the Economics and Management majors you take about 70% of the same classes. Then Management gets more practical and business-oriented, whereas Economics gets more theoretical. Also, Management is the only “business” degree in Hope. Economics is not “business” degree. So if you are student who is interested in pursuing a career in business, then Management major is much better option.

I have a lot of friends and relatives, who if I say, I am Management major, they think I am studying to be a “boss” or “executive”. It is not true. Firstly, there is not such as school that makes you a CEO, other than time, experience, and long length of right decisions. So in the Management major still get to learn the core of economics, which is very important in business, but then you focus more on real life related work.

Spanish V

My second class is Spanish V class because Spanish is my minor. Interestingly enough, Spanish V is my first Spanish class at Hope, but I did study abroad in Chile for a semester. In Spanish V we basically go over all tenses, subjunctives and conditionals, so by then we should theoretically have no more grammar to learn.

If you are interested in Spanish minor, then you need 16 credits, but it starts to count with Spanish V. So when you come to Hope, you have to take a language placement test designed by Hope College. Based on that, you go to Spanish I or a higher level. Or you can go to Spanish V and get credit for Spanish I, II, III, IV, and V, or 20 credits towards graduation. Nevertheless, from Spanish minor you need Spanish V, Spanish VI and two more classes.

The whole getting credit for Spanish I and Spanish II if you are Spanish III can be in any language department at Hope.

Russian II

The first class I am taking this semester is Russian II. As you know, Hope College is a liberal arts school, so you will have to take a second or for some people, a third or fourth language. It does not have to be a Russian. You can take Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and German as well. But as you might guess Spanish is the most popular one because most U.S. students take Spanish in high school.

Nevertheless, if you are interested in completely different and unique language and you are not big fan of Mandarin Chinese, then Russian is the way to go. If you do decide to Russian, it is a sort of one year course. Let me explain. If you want to take Spanish I or French II, you can do so any semester. And you can even pick different time blocks. But if you want to take Russian I than you can take it only in the fall and in order to get to Russian II, you must take Russian I beforehand. Logically, Russian II is taught only in the spring, since Russian I is only taught in the fall.

The advantage of taking Russian is the fact people it is not the most popular language between students, and actually many students even do not know that one can study Russian at Hope, so my class is only 7 students. It is basically like having a personal tutor. Also, you may know Russians use different alphabet called Azbuka, and you get to learn how to read it, which very cool and unique skill to have.