Written by: Emily Damstra (‘23)
Hope College promotes the slogan: “The Hope Difference.” Hope’s website gives the definition of the difference as “the rigorous Christian academics and Christian community prepare Hope grads for a life of leadership and service.” As I am a senior preparing to graduate this May, I have thought about what has been “The Hope Difference” for me.
Flashback to my freshman year move-in day. I was scared, timid
, and anxious, but filled with excitement for the next four years of my life. Moving into a new environment and dorm seemed overwhelming, but it only took an hour to move in with all the help I received from orientation leaders and Dykstra cluster mates that I didn’t even know yet. When I was organizing my belongings with my parents, an orientation leader walked in with a big smile, asked how I was feeling and if I had any questions at all. The joyful, helpful ,, and gracious people I met in just the first couple hours of moving in made me feel like I belonged and that everything was going to be okay. “The Hope Difference” was clear to me on day one.
I knew coming into Hope that Hope was known for its community and friendly culture. However, I never really thought it was going to be as profound as it has been for me. For example, I love doing homework in the Bultman Student Center because I know I will see familiar faces. It’s a comfort to know that wherever I go on campus, I will most likely see someone I know. Walking around, you are guaranteed to receive a “hi” or a smile from people you are not even that close to. From the classroom to the chapel to the sidewalks there is a warm that surrounds Hope. It’s not limited to the students either. Chaplains, professors, and even President Scogin help make students feel seen around campus. They make the effort to get to know students. I was working on homework with a friend in the Bultman Student Center when President Scogin walked by and we had a fifteen minute conversation about what we were working on and our schedules. That’s “The Hope Difference.” There is a sense of belonging and community.
I wanted to think about the little things that have made “The Hope Difference” and my time here at Hope so special. I asked some friends to come up with some things that they believe make “The Hope Difference.” Responses ranged from the stereotypes of “ring by spring” to the famous H cookies that make an appearance at every Hope event. At Hope you are guaranteed to find a coffee shop within walking distance where you can find students studying or even going on dates which can be fun to watch. That’s “The Hope Difference.” Freshman and sophomore year I would spend approximately four hours at Phelps dining hall between lunch and dinner just talking to friends and laughing so hard until my stomach hurt. That’s “The Hope Difference.” At Phelps you can find the chef’s special which is usually a hotdog with a bun. That’s “The Hope Difference.” The debate between Cook and Phelps leading to long friendly arguments at the dinner table is “The Hope Difference.” Listening to President Scogin do his Kermit the Frog impression at chapel is “The Hope Difference.” The best sandwich in America, also known as the Dagwood, is “The Hope Difference.” The furthest walk to class being around eight minutes no matter where you are on campus is “The Hope Difference.” From the big things, such as the Christian community and the sense of belonging, to the little things such as the Dagwood; they all make up “The Hope Difference.” I will forever be grateful for Hope and all the reasons why it is so special. So, fast forward to my last semester at Hope, it is clear to see that “The Hope Difference” has made a lasting impact during my time here.
Graves Hall featured on Hope College’s campus (Photo credit: Hope College website)