This morning I took my last final exam of my second year at Hope College. Everyone who told me that college would fly by hit the nail on the head: I cannot believe I am halfway done with with my undergrad degree!
As I reflect on this past year academically, one phrase sums it up: Collaborative Learning.
Hope College stresses the importance of collaborative research with professors. I would not have had anywhere near the academic success that I achieved this year had it not been for my advisor, Prof. Natalie Dykstra, and all of her encouragement. She told me about Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Historical Register of the Centennial Exposition in the Rare Book Room and said I should take a look at it. After I decided that I wanted to form a project around it, she stepped back and encouraged me “not to put [my] research in a box,” in order to find the most creative angle for the project. She never told me what to do or tried to force her own ideas for a scholarly project on me. Instead, she guided me along the way and offered suggestions when I was stuck or stressed out.
What resulted was a project that I was accepted to present at the Hope College Arts & Humanities Colloquium, the Hope College Celebration of Undergraduate Research, the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts & Letters conference held at Oakland University, and the National Conference of Undergraduate Research held at the University of Kentucky. Most recently, I was asked to present for the Hope College Board of Trustees.
Experiences collaborating with faculty mentors are the reason why US News & World Report ranked Hope as one of the Top 20 Liberal Arts Colleges for Best Undergraduate Teaching and why it was nominated as one of the Best Institutions for Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects.
If you would like to learn more about the Hope College Celebration of Undergraduate Research and/or the ways Hope is incorporating collaborative projects, please watch this video in which I was blessed to be a part of: