How did your life path lead to Calvin University?

When both of your parents are Calvin graduates, there is a high likelihood that you will not want to go to Calvin. This would have been the case for me, if not for some memorable experiences I had growing up. Early on in school I participated in youth writing events at Calvin and fell in love with the campus. Later, my dad and I started attending Calvin basketball games. I developed my own fondness for the Calvin setting and culture through those experiences. Because I had come to that point independently, by my senior year in high school, I was excited to follow in their footsteps.

What was the greatest challenge you faced while you were at Calvin?

My challenge was huge, and it happened early. My dad is in the medical field and my mom is a kindergarten teacher. My dad was 100 percent set that I would go into nursing. There was such a high demand for nurses, jobs are always plentiful, and so that was my path. I have always loved older people and my natural caregiving instinct was strong, so I was okay with that, and declared nursing as my major.

But on my first exam freshman year, I got a fat F on my microbiology exam! My advisor didn’t sugar coat it, telling me that it would be impossible to get into the nursing program after that single grade. It was devastating, and not just for me. My whole plan had fallen apart. Now, I was having to make a case for staying at Calvin at all, so I started thinking. Where was my opportunity?

I knew I wanted to graduate with a “tactical skill” that would make me employable. When I was a kid, I did all kinds of sales, lemonade stands, bracelet stands—I’d make displays and set them up—and I loved doing it. So, I thought that maybe business was an idea. It was a big field that would also have many options and jobs. Without a full understanding about the possibilities in the business world, my parents were a bit skeptical of my proposed direction. I made a presentation for them, which was a good exercise because I had to think about it from my own perspective. I loved photography and I was good at design. I didn’t think of myself as super artistic, like an illustrator or a painter, but I always liked aesthetics. I had talking points and made my pitch. I don’t remember exactly how it all went, but I did it and made the switch to business. I remember taking a class about color and set up rooms to fit moods—interior design projects, I loved it so much that I added an art minor. But I didn’t tell my parents about that until later—I mean, they weren’t even sure how they felt about me switching to business.

What was most rewarding about your Calvin experience?

One of my best experiences was going to Spain for a semester. I lived with a woman who spoke no English, and I spoke no Spanish. We used hand signals and drew pictures to communicate. Professor Slagter was the trip advisor, and she was a fabulous professor. She was so encouraging to me, when I was obviously struggling to speak a word of Spanish—she kept me going.

Dr. Slagter is just one example of what makes Calvin so unique. Every professor really digs in and answers questions; they truly want every student to succeed. Nobody is going through the motions. Tom Betts, Bob Eames, all of them build relationships and I feel like I can reach out any time; in fact, I have done that. I spoke with Bob Eames when I was wondering if I was doing enough in my life and career to glorify God and promote his Kingdom. He encouraged me and reminded me that God is working through me wherever I am - I don’t need to be working at a nonprofit to make a difference. The point is the professors genuinely care. They teach students how to have a positive impact in the lives of the people we encounter, no matter what our calling or assignment.

How was your faith affected at Calvin?

I’ve been a Christian my whole life, so college was no exception. I can say that at Calvin, it was a time to figure it out for myself. I was in the grip of God’s hands the whole time. He kept putting people in my life for specific reasons throughout my journey and kept me close to Him. Even our essays, business case studies, and chapels instilled the importance of finding the moral and ethical points of view and processing those things in real situations.

What advice would you give your high school self and other high schoolers from your perspective today?

I’d say that it will all turn out alright. You don’t have to have your entire life figured out today. You will change through this experience, but God will not. He is constant and has a plan for you, even when it’s hard to see.