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Jeff Vredenburg

Jeff Vredenburg in the Three Gorges Dam region of the Yangtze River in China, wearing a traditional costume of the people from that area. Jeff is a triple major in French, Spanish and Biology.

The fantasy of pre-teens, encouragement for high school students, and bane of college students; finding the answer to that question has been my goal at Hope.

We students are part of the generation that is breaking free from the cultural constraints of the “correct” order of doing things. Maybe it is a retort to the sluggish job market, but people are taking more time to dabble in various other careers and activities before settling on their future profession. Those that do, gain a tangible edge on those who stay home.

A 5th year senior, (super-senior, if you will), I have taken two semesters off during college to pursue international experiences and I originally postponed my college enrollment out of High School to live in France for a year. The quest for my future profession has been exciting, frustrating, and always something new.

Ever since my first Spanish class in 6th grade, I have had a passion for language and culture that has fueled my itch to see the world. My first semester off found me first in China, where I took the equivalent of 8 semesters of intensive Mandarin study. Next, I went to South America where I finished my Spanish major and volunteered with a conservation project, teaching adults about the environment. The contrast between the beauty of the South American Andes and the megaindustry of the Yangtze River Delta in China shaped my views of our personal responsibility to take care of the world. Back at Hope I became involved in the Environmental Issues Group and additional work at a biological station, which persuaded me to add a Biology major with the goal of attending Graduate school in ecology and conservation.

Although I have concentrated much of my time to language, I am excited to meld those skills with my biology degree in order to work internationally, and am fortunate that Hope gave me the flexibility to figure out what I wanted to do within my own time frame. The question, “What I want to be,” is one that I am excited to answer, and although it might still go through a few revisions, I’m well on my way to who I want to be.