April 24, 2023 | Matt Kucinski

Three students take a selfie with a blue sky behind them.
Kenna Hiemstra (center) from Southern California is completing her first year at Calvin University.

As a senior in high school, Kenna Hiemstra had a pretty good idea where she wanted to go to college. She had joined her worship team at church for an event on Calvin University’s campus a couple of years prior, her sister was a student at Calvin, and she knew the university had a great nursing program, the field she wanted to go into.

But though she knew she wanted to come, it would require a cross country move, from Southern California to Michigan.

So, for Hiemstra, having the opportunity to test drive the experience helped confirm her decision. She spent a month on campus after her senior year in the Entrada Scholars Program.

The opportunity is unique

“It was cool, because I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an experience like that, the ability to be on campus for a whole month and see how that goes,” said Hiemstra.

Entrada is one of Calvin’s premier College Access Programs. The academic program allows a cohort of racial and ethnic minority juniors and seniors in high school the opportunity to experience what college life is like, including taking a college course for credit, participating in student life, and living on campus.

While Hiemstra enjoyed the experience, it also served as a preview of her first year at Calvin.

The movie matches the trailer

“It made the start here a lot easier,” said Hiemstra, “It’s very easy to meet people, especially from the beginning. Calvin does a good job with orientation and creating different activities where you are doing something with people. Having those shared experiences with people makes it so much easier to talk [with them] afterwards.”

Hiemstra has found community through intramural sports, her residence hall, and she is still friends with students with whom she went through Entrada. She also has found community among her professors.

The guides are accessible

“My professor during Entrada, I got to know him really well,” said Hiemstra.

And she found that experience with her professor through Entrada not to be an exception, but rather par for the course.

“I am surprised how accessible my professors are,” said Hiemstra. “They are super open, have office hours, and invite students to stop by anytime. It’s so cool.”

Her professors in the nursing program have also connected her with an upperclassmen in the program, to serve as a mentor, as someone she can ask questions to along the way.

Faith matters everywhere

While Hiemstra knew a bit about what to expect in the classroom, having gone to a private Christian school where faith was part of the academic experience, she has a newfound appreciation for Calvin’s approach to integrating faith and learning now that she’s seeing some of her peers from different high school backgrounds encountering this dynamic for the first time.

“It’s interesting to see my friends who didn’t come from that, to hear about their experiences, they didn’t realize you would have this in every subject,” said Hiemstra. “I think it’s cool that every professor is able to do that [integrate faith with their subject matter].”

The other aspect of Calvin that’s been appealing to Hiemstra and her classmates is both the freedom and the vast opportunities available for students to deepen their faith.

“What we appreciate compared to other colleges is that you get to go to chapel versus having to attend a certain number of times. It’s a choice. It’s cool to see that when you go there, it’s people who want to be there,” said Hiemstra. “And there are so many other opportunities Calvin makes available for you to grow in your faith.”

Preview Calvin

Want to test drive college this summer? Apply for the Entrada Scholars Program before the April 28 deadline. The program runs June 25–July 20, 2023.

Want to visit campus and learn more about Calvin? Choose a visit option that works for you.

Recent stories