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Staff Profiles: Habeeb Award, International Student Advisor and
Ellen Awad, Director of Student Life

Habeeb and Ellen Awad serve at Hope in very different capacities, but one thing that brings them together within Hope is their love for the students.

“I love being with students and having conversations with them—learning about who they are and where they think they’re going in life,” says Ellen, who interacts with a broad range of students as the director of student life.

Habeeb, Hope’s international student advisor, says, “Hope students in general really are kind to the international students and that helps to give them a positive experience. When they graduate from Hope, they leave with a very good impression about Hope and good memories.”

Another aspect that Habeeb and Ellen value about Hope is the college’s Christian perspective. Habeeb, who studied at Western Theological Seminary before coming to Hope, says that he notices and appreciates three pillars that the college upholds. “The tradition, the academic integrity, and the Christian faith—these are the three things that can summarize Hope College,” he says.

Ellen also says, “Faith is a big piece that strengthens what Hope has to offer, because even if you are from a different denomination or have a different perspective she says. “It’s not a taboo subject.”

For both Habeeb and Ellen, the Hope community is a family. Since Ellen’s father was a member of the mathematics faculty at Hope, she says, “I grew up at Hope.” Habeeb, however, also sees Hope as a second home. “Ellen grew up at Hope College, and my in-laws have worked at or attended Hope College, so everything is about Hope,” he says. “You grow in this culture and it becomes a second home. The people here are very friendly and it is an approachable community that I really enjoy.”

Sometimes that sense of family shows itself in simple moments, like the first time that international students experience snow. “Most of them do not experience the winter and snow in their home countries,” Habeeb says. “They are seeing snow for the first time, experiencing something different for the first time. Those little things make a huge difference in their lives and impact them.”

Other times, the sense of family plays out through activity like working with students to plan an event—day-to-day interaction that, for staff members like Ellen and Habeeb, is itself inspiring. “Hope students are bright, capable, invested, involved, enthused, and they’re a lot of fun,” Ellen says. “For me, it’s motivating to be around them, to brainstorm with them, and to create and make things happen in partnership with them.”

This profile was written by Danielle K. Johnson, a 2008 Hope College graduate from Kalamazoo, Mich., for the 2008-09 Hope College Catalog.

Hope People - Learn about the experiences of some of the people connected with Hope College.