A Liberal Arts Education

By: Monica Teuthorn

Going into the college search, there were a lot of things I didn’t know. There seemed to be a whole new vocabulary of words and terms that applied to college that I didn’t have prior knowledge of. One of those terms was liberal arts. From the word itself and how it was used I began to build my own understanding of it, but it wasn’t until I was at Hope experiencing Liberal Arts for myself that I began to really understand and appreciate a Liberal Arts education.

I was always told that liberal arts was essentially a school were you had to take classes that weren’t for your major. That is all I really understood though. It didn’t make sense to me why anyone would choose to take classes that weren’t for their major or why someone would choose to go to a school that required them to do that. I remember talking to many friends who all had different views on liberal arts schools. Some preferred them, and some were avoiding them. This all just made me more confused though and harder to make up my own mind. I ended up deciding on Hope with that still confused idea of what a Liberal Arts education was.

Specifically, for me as a psych major, I feel that the way the Liberal Arts education has benefited me the most is through allowing me to explore a little to see what it is I am passionate about. I came in as a Psych major thinking I wanted to get into child psychology. I began to hear more about Social Work though and became really interested in it. I took a few Social Work classes but in the end, I decided that Psych was still a better fit for me, and I wasn’t even setback for having tried those classes. I was very conflicted before I took the classes though, and I think that, had I not been given the chance to explore, I would have continued my major with doubts about whether or not I was in the right place. Thankfully, a Liberal Arts education has allowed me to be confident in my decisions.

I’ve been at Hope for two years now, and it has become a lot clearer to me what a liberal arts education is and how it can benefit me. A Liberal Arts education primarily works at giving me a well-rounded education. I feel more confident in my abilities in all different areas and disciplines and not just in my major. A Liberal Arts education has shown me the connections between different disciplines helping me to get a broader and more creative view of my own major while also helping me to understand others and what they are working towards in their majors. I am grateful for having fallen in love with a liberal arts college even though I didn’t know what that meant at the time. I am only half way through, and I already see the rewards from my decision.

The Philosophical Space

There are many spots on campus to study, hangout with friends, or simply be by yourself when you need to focus for an exam coming up.  Students at Hope are usually very good at being able to find their “spot” within the first few weeks of being on campus.  For me, there is one place that I am able to be social, studious, or alone if I wanted – Lubbers Hall.

Lubbers Hall is home to the humanities and being a philosophy major,  I was exposed to Lubbers as soon I got to campus.  During my first year at Hope, most of my classes were in Lubbers Hall and since I spent so much time there I even found hidden rooms most students aren’t aware exist.

Inside Lubbers Hall there is a lounge specifically for Philosophy students.  The room has a small couch, two comfortable armchairs, a small table, and a library shelf with books written by the best philosophers.  It is the perfect set-up for group work, individual studying, or some leisure reading. The room was big enough for us to have multiple study sessions in there and we would we able to have a good time whenever we needed a break – ordering food on a particularly late night study session started to become the norm. We began to spend so much time there that we even befriended the campus safety officers who would come and unlock the door for us – if you’ve been on campus, you realize how just about everyone on campus is overly friendly or willing to help.

Hope has a place for everything. Whether you want to strictly study (places like the library), do group work (anywhere on campus), or socialize (again, anywhere on campus), there will always be a spot for you to go to. You might also find that spot that you can have all three and that’s when you know you’ve found a home.

May Term Mems

Pine Ridge, South Dakota 

One of the unique academic experiences that Hope College offers students is to study over the summer months through May, June and July terms. For many Hope students, this is a chance to travel or spend some more time in lovely Holland and build a deeper community with the members of one class.

In May 2016, myself, a group of Hope women and an extraordinary Religion professor packed into a twelve-passenger van and drove off into the Badlands of South Dakota. Our goal was to engage and learn about the Oglala Lakota Tribe on Pine Ridge Reservation. As the professor mapped out the ride, we took turns sleeping and passing snacks as we anticipated the adventure ahead. What would the third poorest county in the country look like? What work would we be doing to help a culture with such a long history of oppression? What would the Natives think of such a strange group of Midwestern college students walking through their shops and communities?

Prior to the trip, the class met for three hours in the morning for a week in Holland to prep ourselves for the journey. My professor, Dr. Hoogerwerf, opened his doors to us and a couple of us stayed with him and his wife for the entire week. We had night chats over dinner and rode together to class in the mornings. Our side of the deal instead of rent was to babysit grandson Miles, which was never a problem. We learned about the history of the Oglala tribe and the tragedies committed to Native Americans by Colonial militias and American forces in United States History. The Lakota Tribe was forced on reservations like Pine Ridge and taken from their sacred Black Hills that now contain four faces of American presidents carved side by side. My favorite book we read was called Neither Wolf Nor Dog written by a white man who interviews Lakota Indians on the reservation and records their stories. There were many experiences on the trip that have some of the top memories of my Hope experience so far. To keep this story short, I’ll talk about my top three:

Volunteering with Remember

Our housing for the trip was offered by a nonprofit organization working with the Oglala Lakota tribe called Remember. The organization focuses on helping members of the community by building outhouses, skirting trailers, gardening and other hands-on immediate needs and relief. Meanwhile, as students, church groups, and other volunteers offer their time and skills Remember educates visitors about the tribe’s troubling past, but more importantly their rich culture. They also employ members of the tribal community to speak in the evenings and share their stories with guests. I loved meeting the speakers and hearing their experiences.

Cheesin’ after hiking the Badlands

Hiking with Ineila

Professor Dr. Hoogerwerf

One such speaker at Remember has had a relationship with our professor for years. He offers year after year to lead a hike through the Badlands and share with us the discoveries left behind by World War II machine guns and the critters that lived there before. The Badlands were formed by a salt-lake that dried up and left behind fossilized turtle shells and neat patterns of dirt and rocks. It’s a beautiful hike — but an even greater look into why the tribe treasures the land taken from them.

The group hiking through

 

 

We did it!
Ineila (our guide) and Rachel looking at turtle shell fossils

 

 

 

 

Sweat Lodge

My all-time favorite moment of our trip was also the moment I wished I could dive into a pool of ice cubes. Sweat Lodge is a traditional ceremony that “cleansed” the soul and when the men of the tribe would meet with Wakan Tanka (their deity). Another speaker at Remember, lead us through this ceremony and shared his sacred songs. The heat was intense and all twelve of us sat together under a dome made of animal skins and blankets surrounded by hot rocks that sizzled with the humidity of the air. We were also invited to share a meal with them and we sat in their trailer eating soups out of spare cups and bowls. The way they opened their arms to us was a unique and genuine gesture, and it reminded me of the way the church should also open its arms.

Example of what a lodge looks like

These memories have driven my studies back at Hope and will continue to shape my future goals. I love to fix myself in new cultures and learn from stories there. I would encourage students to volunteer and travel in their time at Hope. If not for a semester, then for a May, June, or July Term. If not for these then go on an immersion trip through Campus Ministries! There are many ways to travel, serve and learn from others and the opportunities are plentiful at Hope.

Learn Lakota: “Mitakuye Oyasin” – we are all related

 

 

Hope College Nursing

By: Noemi Rocha

As a kid, I would equate nursing school with a trade school. I always pictured the hospital beds and learning the necessary technical skills, but not much else. My Hope experience has been completely different than I imagined and incredibly worthwhile.

If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t know I wanted to be a nurse until my senior year of high school. I came to Hope believing I wanted to do nursing, but then there were days where I thought I had changed my mind. However, the approach and effort Hope takes to create wonderful and capable nursing students is what made me stay. I still remember sitting in Anatomy Lab and holding a human heart for the first time. I had this moment where I paused and was just amazed at the intrinsic design the human body has. Every part has an important function.

My first two years at Hope had a nursing focus, but I felt like any other student. I took prerequisite courses for the nursing program, but for the most part, I was taking a lot of different courses as well. I believe this time to explore different topics is imperative to shaping who you are and how you perform in a career. In my freshman year, I was part of the, Phelps Scholars Program, a living-learning community, that focuses on exploring different cultures and ideas and I loved it. This community gave me a greater understanding of cultural competency and as a nursing student, we’ve explored the concept of cultural competency in previous courses. Although the Phelps Scholars Program wasn’t centered on nursing at all, I still found a way to apply my learning to my future career.

I’m currently in my junior year and in my Psychiatric Mental Health Theory and Practicum Rotation. All of the nursing rotations are a half semester and include many different hospitals with different specialties. The group is about 7 – 8 students to one professor and the real-world learning truly begins. Each clinical will visit the hospital for 8 hours on Monday night and again on Tuesday morning. I’ve been able to gain both the necessary experience and confidence throughout this first clinical, which is necessary to be a good nurse. Recently, I had a moment where I truly realized that the patients we are working with are real. I knew that going in, but I don’t think I understood the gravity of what it actually meant. It’s an honor to be able to enter into their life for a moment and provide the best care we can.

My one piece of advice for a new nursing student – or any student looking to come to Hope –  would be to continue learning. Nobody is ever completely knowledgeable on every topic. Trust me, the knowledge of how to be an effective nurse will come with time, but what you spend your time on outside of the classroom is also important. At Hope, I have the opportunity to attend lectures that a variety of groups & organizations offer, typically on topics that are flooding the media. The intent is never to choose a side, but to listen to different sides, understand new perspectives and continue to learn and question ideas. Never stop listening. It is how we understand people. When we can understand a person, we can provide care. Similarly, if a patient feels heard by the nurse, they are more willing to trust the nurse and become completely honest. A patient that is honest will receive better care than one who is not.

My perspective of what a nurse does has completely changed from how I used to think about it. Yes, it’s important to learn and know the technical side, but there is so much more than that. I have gained so much respect for nurses and I cannot wait to become one myself. The nursing program at Hope is challenging, but it equips students to jump into the field once they are finished with their four years. I will be ready and so will you.

Can’t you just tell me?: Musings on Being Undecided

By: Alley LoPrete

One of the most daunting parts of choosing a college for me was wondering if I would make the right choice. How do I know my school is the right one? It brought me back to middle school dreams of my future husband and asking my mom “How do you know he is the ONE?” So, I chose a school where I could find lots of options; Hope College. Perfect! I found a liberal arts school where I can take classes in multiple areas to fit all my interests. It wasn’t a cop-out. Rather, I felt that Hope College would help me stay well rounded and flexible so that I could do all the things I love for four more years.

As a result, my schedule freshman year was a melting pot for my mind:  Basic Painting: yes I love to be creative! Encounter with Cultures: awesome, I love learning people’s stories!, Communication: nice, this is an important skill. Then, the most terrifying email came into my inbox from my advisor. The subject line: DECLARE A MAJOR! A major, as in one subject, one degree, one department. Here I was faced with another choice and I was again too overwhelmed with ideas to make it. My biggest fear was that I would choose a career path that I would tire of, or that my degree would limit me later in life. I also felt that I needed to choose a major that would follow God’s calling for me. Thus, I was forced to turn inward and reflect on what I knew about myself.

This reflection was a large part of my First Year Seminar at Hope and through the class and the Career Development Center I took a StrengthsQuest test. This test is aimed at finding your top strengths through a series of self-reflection questions. Everyone passes this test and ends up with your top five strengths! Mine are: Includer, Adaptability, Connectedness, Empathy, Achiever. These traits pointed to a career in relationship building, so I signed up for a sociology class the next semester. Turns out, I love the social sciences and particularly the study of communities.

I also met with a religion professor after taking a religion course freshman year. I learned about all the careers that one can have in studying humanities and realized how options grow based upon your passions. I also read a book called Acts of Faith in my First Year Seminar class and I learned how much religion effects the world and how the social justice elements of my faith could be used for a greater good. I soon realized that my passions for serving others could be built into what I study at school. I can work for a nonprofit, serve, and still make a living.

In the end, I changed my major at least three times and ended up with not one, but two majors: Sociology and Religion. Through mentors, resources and experiences in the classroom my interests were channeled into potential jobs and the majors to go with. I am now looking forward to attending Seminary or Graduate school and working as a chaplain or for a nonprofit in the future. Even within my majors, I do not feel limited as I feared. In attending a liberal arts school, I can still go in and out of departments and continue learning! But, I do know now that my future is bright and I have a direction for my studies and a plethora of job options in the future.

Here are some points of advice that I will leave you with:

  • Reflect on your life experiences and what brings you joy: these often help you determine what you want to pursue doing in the future, because you loved them in the past.
  • Use your resources: family, friends, mentors, career centers and advisors, Strengths Quest and more can help you make good choices and consider more options that you may know about now.
  • Step out of comfort zone: your major may not be the most practical initially, but in talking to professors and doing research you may find more career possibilities.
  • Mix it up: Try out different classes, go to lectures outside your major. You may run into a topic you didn’t know you had a passion for and may end up with a minor!
  • Think of others: Everyone is given skills that are unique, think about how you will not only be helping yourself in choosing a major, but also keep in mind how what you’re studying can help others as well.

The Phelps Scholars Program

By Monica Teuthorn

Before I started my freshman year, college seemed like a foreign place. I didn’t have a ton of experience with it as I was one of the first in my family to really go away to a college like Hope. I had no idea what to expect. College seemed intimidating thinking about academics, research, internships, and more. I was moving to a new state to live with people I didn’t know, compounded the anxiety I already had about the academics and starting over, but thankfully I found the Phelps Scholars Program.

The Phelps Scholars Program is a living-learning community for incoming freshman. Now, I know what you’re asking yourself, and no it is not a scholarship nor is it an honors program. It is for anyone! The program focuses on diversity, inclusion, and cultural awareness. Everyone in the program takes the same First Year Seminar course and everyone does some volunteering for the first semester. One of the coolest parts is that you get to go to fun trips on some weekends for free with the group. Each trip also comes with a different ethnic cuisine that is also free! The food is a huge bonus! One of my favorite trips was to a Powwow in Grand Rapids. It was the very first trip we had for the year. We got to go to their social gathering and experience everything from the food to the ceremony to the music. That was one of my favorite trips, because apart from being the first one of the year, it was very interactive. Not only did we get to observe how that tribe practiced, but they also allowed us at times to join the circle in a respectful way. I saw many students experiencing this culture for the first time with all different reactions, but all giving me a greater respect for my own Native American heritage. This trip ignited my passion for learning and experiencing other cultures, but that was just the beginning. There were so many more trips that taught me so much about myself and the world around me. More than just learning and experiencing these different cultures, this program offers a community for freshmen.

Sure the class is interesting, I love volunteering, and the trips are super fun, but honestly the best part of the program is the community it builds and the people in it. Think about it. This community tends to create such great bonds because you spend so much time with the people involved. You even live with them!  The best part is that this program intentionally brings different people together. Everyone comes from different places or backgrounds. This tends to happen in college anyway, but this program is intentional about it. Of course, with these differences comes some conflict or disagreements, but this program teaches you to disagree in a respectful way and learn out of those conversations. It is good to expose yourself to different people and cultures, because after college, wherever you end up, you will be surrounded by all different kinds of people who you will have to work with. This is preparing you to live and thrive in a global society. The other great thing is that you gain friends from all over the world. This program has given me some of my best friends, and I know these are relationships that will last a lifetime!

Find Your Home

By Rourke Mullins, Hope College Senior

Here it is, you’re 18 years old and the moment has come when you are asked (a lot) to answer one of the most important questions of your young life so far: “Where are you going to college?”

It can be daunting question. For me, it created a pit in my stomach. I didn’t know how to navigate my way through this new feeling and the endless amounts of college mail my mom would throw on my desk. I know I am not alone in this. You may be feeling this way too. So, the question really is: How do we answer a question that carries more weight than most of us have ever dealt with before?

Well, to be honest, I actually swung and missed at my first try on this one. I had decided to attend another 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 again, “Where am I going to college?” This time, the once impossible and scary question now seemed so clear. I am going to go home, I decided. But not back where I grew up home but to a place where I feel at home. When I thought in this way, that’s the moment when my college decision changed for me.

First, I made a list of all the reasons why I loved home. 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 in West Michigan called Hope. It is 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; and, a place that holds you close during dark times and celebrates 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 a place you will be leaving your home to go to, but as a place where your next home will be. For me, I have found a home in Hope.