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Student Profile: Paul VanderVelde ’09

Originally, Paul VanderVelde resisted the idea of attending Hope, because he wasn’t sure he wanted to follow the footsteps of his family. With five generations of Hope graduates ahead of him, Paul thought he wanted to go in a different direction. But after visiting Hope, he quickly realized why his family had stayed loyal to the college.

“ I saw the facilities at Hope and knew about the individualized nature of the classes,” Paul says. “Also, I saw what my dad was able to do with his education here, so I knew that the chemistry department was very strong.”

Another reason Paul decided to attend Hope is that he could participate in cross country. Since he ran all throughout high school, he wanted to continue in college. At a bigger school, Paul says, he may not have had that opportunity.

“When the coach gave me the opportunity to continue running at Hope, I was very excited. Training and hanging out with the team is a lot of fun. It’s one of the things I enjoy most here,” he says.

As a student majoring in chemistry, Paul appreciates the academic integrity in his department and notes that Hope prepares its students well for work in chemistry. Back home in Kansas for the summer after his sophomore year, for example, Paul participated in undergraduate research at Kansas University and felt very prepared. Though nervous at first, he quickly realized that Hope had given him all the skills he needed.

“When I got there, I found out that it was nothing new, and I had the ability to do anything they asked of me. I had done it all before at Hope,” he says. “It was so reassuring to know that my education had more than prepared me for a job.”

Now that he has attended Hope for three years, Paul appreciates how the college connects him to his family of Hope graduates, since he is able to relate to many family members about different aspects of Hope. For example, Paul says, “It is really cool to be able to talk to my dad and aunt who went through the same chemistry program I am going through.”

For Paul and his grandfather, the connection is Hope athletics. “My grandfather played basketball here and he is very proud to have someone in the family in the athletics program,” he says.

The result for Paul is the best of two qualities: an opportunity to connect with family while at the same time making the most of an educational experience all his own.

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.