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Faculty Profile: Natallie Dykstra
Associate Professor of English

Dr. Natalie Dykstra of the Department of English appreciates how Hope College encourages both faculty and students to grow towards their full potential.

She values how Hope encourages her in her scholarship. “I really appreciate the fact that I’ve been allowed to grow in the way that I’ve wanted to grow. I feel supported in my work,” she says. She is currently completing a biography of Clover Adams, wife of the historian Henry Adams and a gifted amateur photographer in the 1880s. Her project has been funded by several Hope faculty research grants and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 2005-06. The book is scheduled to be published by Houghton Mifflin in 2009.

She also appreciates how her department encourages her to use her areas of specialization to create new courses, extending the benefits of her scholarship to students. “I’m able to draw on my research interests and incorporate them into my teaching,” she says. “In fact, I teach best when I’m in the midst of my own writing projects.” Her courses include some that stem directly from her independent research: she teaches an upper-level course on literature and photography, and she will soon be teaching a course on literary biography.

Dr. Dykstra notes that Hope both encourages faculty research and maintains a strong emphasis on teaching. “Colleges often over-emphasize research or overemphasize teaching, but there’s always a conversation here at Hope about how to make that balance,” she says. “I love that teaching is taken seriously.”

She appreciates that teaching and learning at the college extend beyond specific academic disciplines to deeper questions of meaning and faith, and in a way that respects each individual student.

“I enjoy talking to students about issues of faith, but I also like that there’s not a strict programmatic system,” she says. “Faith is so deeply private. It has to be something that students own themselves. Hope gives students the room to work out their own faith.”

Dr. Dykstra also enjoys interacting with students and watching how they develop intellectually over their four years at the college. “I love that I can meet students in their freshman year and then see how they mature from one year to the next,” she says. “Something really profound happens here at Hope — there’s some move that gets made, and it’s fun to see it happen.”

Dr. Dykstra values how her colleagues “respect and invest in students,” she says. “We want students to be successful here and in their whole lives. People thrive here,” Dr. Dykstra says. “And we thrive best when we can learn together.”

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

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