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Profile: Sonja Trent-Brown
Assistant Professor of Psychology

Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown, assistant professor of psychology, recalls that her journey to Hope, at times, seemed to be almost out of her control.

“I believe God led me to Hope. I had never heard of it before, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind. When I saw the name, I thought, ‘What a nice name. Uplifting.’”

One of the aspects of Hope that Dr. Trent-Brown looked forward to was working with the students themselves. Her experiences have not disappointed her.

“Hope students care about academics, and they respect the enterprise of learning. Most importantly,” Dr. Trent-Brown adds,
“the students have ample opportunities to interact with faculty and find ways to connect, creating an atmosphere of shared ownership.”

No where else is the partnership more readily apparent than in the research programs. Like many Hope professors, Dr. Trent-Brown participates in summer research, touting Hope’s research and grant programs as exceptional and entirely unique features of the Hope experience.

“What a tremendous opportunity. I hav never been at an institution where this level of research is happening at the undergraduate level. It’s cutting-edge, and it’s interdisciplinary— the sciences working with the humanities and the arts. There usually is not this kind of access until the graduate level.”

Intermixed with the research and the laboratories, Dr. Trent-Brown sees a vision of Hope that encourages students to not only look outward at textbooks and lab reports but also inward to the spiritual.

“It is rare to find spiritual connection so integrated. It affords us the opportunity to continue on with encouragement. We ask, ‘Why do we love God? Why do we follow Christ?’”

Dr. Trent-Brown believes that students and faculty are encouraged to actively explore faith with the hope that, in the end, everyone will be able to articulate what it is they believe. “Being part of an intentionally placed faith community supports balance, and balance is tremendously important. We have to treat the whole person.”

This balance, the holistic approach of Hope, in many ways prepares students to be global citizens. As Dr. Trent-Brown puts it, “Hope provides a basis for how to meet people. You learn how to fundamentally connect with people with the confidence that you can go anywhere.”

She appreciates the opportunity to be a part of the students’ journey, particularly to be a mentor at a critical time in their lives.

As active and vital as she has been in the life of the psychology department, however, she remains humble about her role in the larger vision of Hope.

“I am just blessed to be here.”

This profile was written by Charlie A. Walter, a Hope College senior from Grand Rapids, Mich., for the 2010-11 Hope College Catalog.

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