This summer, we’re following the class of 2017: Calvin graduates who are journeying around the corner and across the globe. Brooke Bonnema is applying skills and knowledge from semesters abroad and internships at Calvin as she studies for a doctorate in immigration law at the University of Michigan.
- Name: Brooke Bonnema
- Class: 2017
- Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Major(s): International Development Studies, International Relations
- Minor(s): Chinese Studies
- Next step: Studying immigration law at the University of Michigan
What’s one thing you would want to tell someone starting his or her journey at Calvin?
Calvin prepares you well for what you will do after graduation, but what Calvin is best at is shaping who God wants you to be. We enter Calvin thinking that what we do with our Calvin degree and with our time there is the most important aspect. It is important, but even more important is who Calvin helps us become. Be smart in planning out majors and classes, but pour more time and effort into who God wants you to become rather than what you want to be.
What are you most passionate about and how did you discover that passion?
One topic I am passionate about is immigration, and in particular Central American immigration. I discovered this passion through Calvin’s fall semester in Honduras. While in Honduras, we listened to the stories of people who immigrated to the U.S.A. or had family who immigrated. Hearing the reasons why people came to America and then seeing the misconceptions Americans have towards immigrants breaks my heart. This heartache leads me to pursue a law degree at the University of Michigan and do my part to help my Latinx brothers and sisters in Christ.
How has your faith grown at Calvin?
I had the chance at Calvin to take ownership of my faith in a way I had been unable to previously. While Calvin provides great resources to deepen your faith, Calvin gives you the space to grapple with questions and really decide for yourself what you believe. All my life, my faith had followed in the footsteps of my parents, but at Calvin I was able to make it my own. I am so grateful to Calvin for giving me the space to wrestle with doubt while also the resources to overcome it!
What part of Calvin’s mission resonates with you, and why?
The part of Calvin’s mission statement that most resonates with me is “act justly.” In one of my international development studies classes, we discussed Cornel West’s definition of justice: “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Calvin has taught me how to love others well through my words and through my actions, and has shown me that bringing about justice is really the realization of our God’s love here on Earth. I hope that I can use my actions as a lawyer to bring about this love within the justice system, just as Calvin taught me.