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Why We Listen to Sermons p. 10 Bigger Business p. 18

#JanuaryAtCalvin p. 12 SPRING 2019

TRAVEL WITH CALVIN From South Africa to Italy to New Mexico, Calvin travel adventures give alumni and friends the opportunity to explore the creation and cultures of God’s world. Future destinations are listed on p. 37. Cape Point, South Africa Photo credit: John Apol ’67

SPRING 2019 VOL. 65, NO. 1


Calvin College equips students to think deeply, to act justly, and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.

Calvin College is an educational institution of the Christian Reformed Church of North America (CRCNA). To learn more about the CRC’s work in North America and around the world, visit

18 Calvin College is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). For more information, visit

BIGGER BUSINESS: Sophomore Agustin Parraguez-Huisman is particularly interested in pursuing Calvin’s new entrepreneurship minor.

Spark (USPS 509-280) is published three times a year by the Calvin Alumni Association, Office of Alumni, Parent, and Community Relations, Calvin College, 3201 Burton St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. ©2019 by the Calvin Alumni Association.


Periodical postage paid at Grand Rapids, Mich., and additional mailing offices. Telephone: 616-526-6142. Fax: 616-526-7069. Email: Spark on the web: POSTMASTER: Send address corrections to Spark, Office of Alumni, Parent, and Community Relations, Calvin College, 3201 Burton St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. CANADIAN POSTMASTER: Publication Mail Agreement No. 40063614. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: CRCNA-Calvin College, 3475 Mainway, P.O. Box 5070, Burlington, ON L7R 3Y8.





Calvin alum Scott Hoezee seeks to inform church goers on how to best evaluate preaching.

Calvin students and faculty spend interim thinking deeply, acting justly, and living wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.

The business department offers an expanded curriculum, including new majors and minors.




ON THE COVER: Hawaii interim, January 2019. Photo credit: Benjamin W Steenwyk ’20


THE CALVIN SPARK Editor: Rick Treur ’93 Managing Editor: Lynn Bolt Rosendale ’85 Art and Design: Amanda Impens Madisyn Kuipers ’19 Contributing Writers: Connor Bechler ’20 Gayle Boss Jeff Febus ’92 Amanda Armour Greenhoe ’11 Matt Kucinski Kristen Lundberg ’19 Contributing Photographers: Calvin Sports Information Amanda Impens Stephen Norregaard ’15 Noah PreFontaine ’17 Rick Treur ’93



24 Alumna Rachel Koopmans made a striking discovery while studying stained glass panels at the Canterbury Cathedral.

Qumisha Goss ’10 teaches a coding class to enterprising youngsters in Detroit.



President: Twana Graves Davis ’93 (Katy, Texas) Vice President: Gene Miyamoto ’77 (Holland, Mich.) Secretary: Brianna Sas-Pérez (Milwaukee, Wis.) Treasurer: Barbara Boers ’86 Director: Rick Treur ’93 Members: Sarah Berg ’06 (Washington, D.C.) Jori Brink ’04 (Chicago, Ill.) Jerry Cooper ex’66 (Holland, Mich.) Carlos Erazo ’14 (Dallas, Texas) James Jenkins ’87 (Everett, Wash.) Rachel Johnson-Melville ’02 (Muskegon, Mich.) Jack Kalmink ’69 (Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.) Casey Kuperus ’97 (Grand Rapids, Mich.)

James Lee ’12 (East Islip, N.Y.) Rosanne Lopers-Sweetman ’77 (Toronto, Ont.) Rebecca Mejia ’05 (Hawthorne, N.J.) Christine Jacobs Mouw ’88 (N. Little Rock, Ark.) Debra Perry ’91 (Grand Rapids, Mich.) Valerie Stegink Sterk ’83 (Santa Clara, Calif.) Mark Tigchelaar ’06 (Bellflower, Calif.) Jim Valk ’87 (Paw Paw, Mich.) Cathy Van Zeelt Van Donselaar ’88 (Centennial, Colo.) Gary Van Prooyen ’88 (Wheaton, Ill.)

36 Events

View January interim photos


38 Legacy

#januaryatcalvin on instagram

40 Class Notes

Leave a legacy for future alum

49 In Memoriam

Letters regarding the contents of the magazine will be considered for publication in Spark unless specifically marked “not for publication.” Correspondence should be no more than 350 words and may be shortened to meet editorial requirements. We will not publish anonymous letters; however, we may withhold names upon request. Send your correspondence to: Spark, 3201 Burton St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, or email


Editor’s Desk

5 Letters 6

Campus News

8 Sports 10 Scholarship 22 Alumni Profiles 34 The Cultural Calvin

Read Spark online

Take a look at sports pics

Connect with alumni

View the Calvin calendar



Lifelong pursuit of education A year ago, in this column, I talked about Vision 2030 and how Calvin’s student population has become much more diverse and global. A result of that change means that the alumni association must continually work to reach out across the United States and internationally to help keep alumni connected. Last year when we were holding Vision 2030 listening sessions across the United States, one of the things we heard is that alumni outside of west Michigan would like the opportunity to continue learning from Calvin professors remotely. We heard your feedback and are excited that CALL (Calvin Academy for Lifelong Learning) will pilot our first distance-learning class for alumni this spring. Beloved former Calvin professor Nicholas Wolterstorff is teaching a class on justice on campus that will be broadcast around the globe. As of this writing, we have 108 students registered, with about 40 outside west Michigan, including Taiwan, the Virgin Islands, and British Columbia.


Vision 2030 specifically called out lifelong learning: “By 2030, Calvin will become a Christian liberal arts university with an expanded global influence. We envision Calvin University as a trusted partner for learning across religious and cultural differences and throughout the academy, the church, and the world. Calvin University will be animated by a Reformed Christian faith that seeks understanding and promotes the welfare of the city and the healing of the world. We welcome all who are compelled by God’s work of renewal to join us in the formative pursuits of lifelong learning, teaching, scholarship, worship, and service.” This vision has caused us to rethink what it means to be a Calvin student. While our main focus is still the 18- to 22-year-old residential student, it is expanding to include those seeking graduate degrees and lifelong learners. By offering these types of lifelong learning classes remotely, we are helping to fulfill our vision while allowing our alumni

around the world to continue learning from the best and the brightest in the Reformed academy. Calvin wants to be part of your lifelong pursuit of education and would love to hear from you about what you would like to see regarding distance-learning opportunities. We are starting with classes for personal edification, but in the future, we see the potential to offer continuing education credits and badges. Calvin already has strong programs in education, engineering, nursing, and accounting. Why not use those strengths to help alumni in their professional continuing education as well? Let us know what you would like to see.


LETTERS The blessing of inclusion I want to thank you for the winter 2018 edition of Spark. In so many ways “A Birth, A Vocation, A Journey” mirrored my own experience several years ago. Though without the benefit of prenatal diagnosis, my husband and I also “mourned the loss of the vision of the child we had expected.” Against prevailing professional advice, we brought this new baby home to join his three siblings. And when well-meaning friends would refer to him as our “special” child, my husband was quick to respond by saying that, with the addition of Sherman to our family, we now had “four special children!”

Fast forward to the present: Sherman is now employed as a food service worker at Calvin College. He has been a proud member of the staff there for more than 20 years and is daily experiencing the gift of inclusiveness. Thank you for highlighting past progress (and needed advancement) in the areas of research, awareness, opportunity, and legality regarding disability issues. This is God’s work! — Dottie Vanden Bosch Wiersma ’56

Grand Rapids, Michigan Thank you so much for your recent article “A Birth, A Vocation, A Journey”! It was indeed a blessing to read how others are walking out their faith by including people living with disabilities in “college life” and loving on the special folks God includes in our circles past our Calvin years.

God led me to Calvin and Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church in the mid-1980s to pursue my calling as a special education teacher. Professor (Tom) Hoeksema announced in one of my first lectures that Woodlawn was seeking a volunteer for the Friendship Program (a ministry that supports faith formation and congregational inclusion for individuals with intellectual disability). I knew not a soul at Woodlawn, but with Dr. Hoeksema’s information in hand, I walked there the following Sunday morning, and someone kindly introduced me to Timothy Bolt and his parents. That was the beginning of a beautiful two-year journey. Tim made me feel like I belonged! Teaching him and him teaching me was indeed a pleasure! Thank you, Tim! Calvin College was indeed used by my Father to prepare me for the remote First Nation school, special education students, and Sunday school classes I have had the privilege and honor to teach since meeting Tim. My family and I extend our heartfelt appreciation for all of you whom God used as a blessing during my Calvin years. — Adriana Vander Werff ’87 Prince George, British Columbia I wish your excellent article on Tim Bolt (“A ‘Calvin College guy,’” winter 2018) had included some of his great lines. For example, he was once asked what kind of work he did. He said, “I work at Calvin.” Someone asked, “Are you a professor?” With slight annoyance, Tim said, “No, I said I work at Calvin.” — Wayne Joosse ’63 Grand Rapids, Michigan

CPI opens possibilities I would like to express my appreciation to you for accepting me into the Calvin Prison Initiative (CPI) program. Today, I received the one-year certificate for this program, and something occurred to me. I have grown more in the last year, both spiritually and as a person, than I have in the decade of my incarceration prior to this program. You have provided me, as well as the rest of the CPI student body, with a range of priceless gifts that are rarely found within a prison setting community: compassion, education, leadership, and a sense of belonging, to name only a few. One of the things I have learned since being in CPI is the importance of allowing God to use me in ways that before I might not have imagined possible. One talent God

Go Spark! Regarding the letter about downsizing Spark (winter 2018): Perhaps the writer doesn’t grasp the power of communication— including its ability to create interest, followers, new students, and donors. Go Spark! You are doing an admirable job. — Anton Hart ’69 Toronto, Ontario

has given me is creativity, and it was a joy to put this skill to work in building a chess set for Calvin. Despite the obvious connection to the Calvin Knight mascot, the game of chess is a demonstration of the multitude of ways we can move throughout life. Some of the moves we make are losing moves, but for me, the CPI program is like pushing my last pawn in order to recapture my queen; thus, restoring my strength. In this way and others, CPI has opened up possibilities in my life that I might not have thought possible in the past. Thank you again for giving me such an amazing opportunity. I hope that each time you see this board, or play the game, that you will remember what a great impact you are having on so many lives. — Robert S. Horton ’22 Ionia, Michigan

The portraits of Richard DeVos (winter 2018) and Helen DeVos (spring 2018) are the work of Calvin art professor emeritus Frank Speyers. Our apologies for not crediting him for this fine work in previous issues. —Editor


Write us at 5


Lauren Jensen is Calvin’s new vice president for enrollment strategy.

CALVIN NAMES NEW VICE PRESIDENT Lauren Jensen is Calvin’s next vice president for enrollment strategy. Jensen, a 2007 alumna, was appointed to the position following a rigorous six-month national search that included a highly qualified pool of candidates. “Lauren brings an enthusiastic commitment to Reformed Christian thought and expression and the college’s diversity and inclusion goals,” said Michael Le Roy, president of Calvin College. “She has demonstrated the ability to tackle challenging problems and to win the trust of the people she leads.” Jensen served as director of institutional effectiveness and analytics at Calvin since 2015 and as interim director of admissions since 2018. During her tenure at Calvin, she’s tackled challenging projects that have helped the college improve retention, stabilize its discount rate, and advance its vision for 2030. Prior to Calvin, Jensen served as director of planning and effectiveness and manager of planning, metrics, and analytics at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia. In these capacities she had primary responsibility for planning and university-wide market research to support recruitment and enrollment growth. Jensen assumed the vice presidency March 1; she replaces Russ Bloem, who provided leadership in this role for a decade. 6

Calvin students will have the opportunity to build new parallel computing tools.

GRANT SPURS INNOVATION IN PARALLEL COMPUTING When Calvin computer science professor Joel Adams launched Calvin’s first parallel computing course in the late ’90s, the field was “an esoteric elective kind of thing.” Supercomputers, the main devices at the time to rely on parallel computing, were few and far between. In 2005, however, computer processor developers started making multicore processors for the general market. This increasing need has led Adams to collaborate with several institutions in an effort to advance parallel computing (a type of computing architecture in which several processors execute or process an application or computation simultaneously) instruction. This past fall, Adams—together with colleagues at U.S. Military Academy at West Point and

St. Olaf College in Minnesota—received a $595,131 grant for the development of new parallel computing teaching tools. While St. Olaf College is researching touchbased approaches and West Point is building an interactive online textbook, Adams and two student researchers will work this summer on building several tools to provide students learning parallel computing with direct audio and visual feedback. “We’re looking for real-world analogies to parallel behavior so that we can create the equivalent of those analogies in software,” said Adams. “If you give students enough examples of how parallelism is used to solve problems, they start thinking and understanding the underlying patterns of parallel behavior.”

Each summer, more than 100 students work with professors carrying out science, humanities, and social science research on campus.


Calvin’s re-envisioned front entrance will be completed by this fall.

CALVIN UNIVERSITY TO HAVE UPDATED ENTRANCE On July 10, 2019, Calvin College will officially become Calvin University. While structural changes will likely follow in the years ahead, literal structures must also be modified to reflect the institution’s new name. The most noticeable change will be seen at Calvin’s main entrance off Burton Street. Working with GMB architects, Russell Bray, director of physical plant, led a cross-divisional team. Bray says the team’s goal in reimagining the Burton Street entrance was to reinforce and grow Calvin’s visibility by connecting its presence to the surrounding community.

STAY CONNECTED Find more campus news daily at

“The re-envisioned front entrance needed to reflect what visitors would find as they entered campus: a distinct and vibrant university, purposeful in its design and execution,” said Bray. “The updated entrance was carefully designed to provide a hospitable and distinct entry, with coherency to the campus architectural style.” Bray says the result is a memorable visual impression of Calvin University for all that pass through. Construction on the new Burton Street entrance will begin following Calvin’s 2019 Commencement ceremony in May. Bray expects the work will be completed by the beginning of the 2019 fall semester.

Recognizing and adding to Calvin’s range of undergraduate research opportunities, the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation has named Calvin a 2019 Beckman Scholars Program awardee. One of 13 schools selected nationally, Calvin will receive $104,000 to fund four students in carrying out specialized long-term chemistry or biology research over the next three years. Calvin has received the award twice before, in 2008 and 2014, and a total of eight Calvin students have previously been selected as Beckman Scholars. “We have a strong history of doing research with undergraduates,” said Douglas Vander Griend, faculty coordinator for the award and chemistry department chair. “It’s a major part of what makes us who we are at Calvin— almost all of our professors here in chemistry, biochemistry, and biology are involved in undergraduate research.” Calvin students and faculty have received a multitude of awards and grants for undergraduate research. Since 2009, 18 Calvin students have been recognized as Barry Goldwater Scholars and 14 have been named honorable mentions. Student and faculty research at Calvin generates more than 125 publications annually, and more than 230 chemistry students have co-authored research publications with faculty. 7



Cerebral palsy is a disease that affects an individual’s body movement and muscle coordination, making it difficult to do everyday activities. However, it hasn’t stopped one Calvin student athlete from doing what he loves: run.

Detmer competed in the 200- and 400-meter run at the Paralympics. “I was able to run with people running on blades, blind people, everything. It was probably the most amazing running experience I have ever had,” he said. Detmer was also named an All-American.

Freshman Simon Detmer, a native of Chicago and graduate of Timothy Christian High School, has right-side hemiplegia, which causes the right side of his body to have muscle weakness, coordination weakness, and partial paralysis.

This past fall, Detmer was coming off a broken foot from summer training and was unable to compete in cross country. Simon didn’t let his injury stop him from training. He biked, worked out on the elliptical, did light treadmill running, and lifted weights.

Detmer began running in high school. “When I joined high school, I came from a family line of runners, so I wanted run. A few weeks into high school though—I think it was my third race in my career—I fractured my fibula, so that was pretty discouraging,” he said. “However, I just felt like the Lord never told me to stop. I ran all four years of high school, cross country and track. Unfortunately, I was injured all four years, but I was able to make the Illinois State Championships senior year and scored for our team, which was really a blessing.”

Very satisfied with where he is now, he was able to complete Calvin’s indoor track season and is enjoying being a Knight. “When I came here, I really felt like this is where the Lord was calling me because the people not only were amazingly talented at running, but I appreciated the character that the coaches and the teammates have. Christ’s love just radiates from them, and I really feel like I’m part of their family.”

Last spring, Detmer had the opportunity to compete at the Paralympics, a major international multi-sport event that involves athletes who have a range of disabilities. “Earlier my family heard about the Paralympics from friends, and they said maybe Simon is fast enough. So, senior year we got in contact with the Paralympics committee; they got me hooked up with coaches in the Midwest and I was able to meet the recruiter for the U.S. Paralympics and that was really a blessing,” he said.


Cross country coach and distance track coach Brian Diemer is very impressed with Detmer’s outlook on running and on life in general. “He doesn’t let small or even major things set himself back and tell him he can’t do something,” he said. “Simon brings something special to the table. He brings a positive outlook on everything. He gives everything he has, and our guys see that and learn from it.” View more stories and photos about our teams, athletes, and scores.

Going the extra mile KENDALL MURPHY COMPLETES DECORATED SWIM CAREER Whether it’s in the pool, in the open water, or on a hiking trail, senior Kendall Murphy has learned to go the extra mile. A three-time All-MIAA selection, the California native recently completed her career as a member of the Calvin women’s swimming and diving team. It was last spring, however, where Murphy really stretched her limits. In May, she joined a Calvin student group in Spain for a class, “Camino de Santiago: The Christian Tradition of Pilgrimage.” While on the trip, Murphy and her classmates followed the pilgrimage of Saint James to walk nearly 300 miles over three weeks. The class was led by Calvin Spanish professor Cynthia Slagter and Calvin kinesiology professor/ head swim coach Dan Gelderloos.

Just two weeks after returning stateside, she participated in the 38th annual Alcatraz Escape from the Rock swim. In that event, she and her fellow competitors were dropped off at the infamous Alcatraz Island by boat and then swam the mile-and-a-half back across the chilly San Francisco Bay waters. Murphy proceeded to finish first in her age group. “I had never done anything like that before but it was great,” said Murphy of her trip to Spain. “I had so many great conversations with coach Dan (Gelderloos) and my walking partners. When I got home, I had to get back in the pool to train for the Alcatraz swim, but it worked out just fine.” A homeschooled student who swam for a local club program in Modesto, Murphy found Calvin through an online search. “It was so random how I found Calvin,” said Murphy. “I was looking for a private Christian school

where I could prepare to go into physical therapy school. I also wanted to continue swimming. I thought about going Division II but the more I looked, the more I realized that Division III was where I wanted to be. I wanted a balance between my academic and athletic experience.” Murphy is majoring in kinesiology; she will pursue her doctorate in physical therapy beginning in August at Cal-State Sacramento. As she heads into physical therapy school, Murphy feels prepared. “I’ve received a great blended education learning about how the body works. I’ve been able to see that in the classroom and as an athlete,” she said. “Combined, that has given me a great base of knowledge that will lead me into graduate school and develop my own skills as a physical therapist.” 9





This volume, by Scott Hoeze, is part of the Calvin Shorts series, which is available from online retailers or the Calvin College Campus Store.

When I was attending Calvin Theological Seminary, someone somewhere along the line gave me a good piece of advice. He told me that when I became a pastor of a congregation, if the consistory (or the body of elders) did not have a standing agenda item called “Sermon and Worship Comments,” then I should institute this first thing. Not only is it the job of elders to supervise the preaching and worship life of the congregation, getting regular feedback can be immensely helpful to the preacher. Having such an item on the agenda every month makes it easier for elders to share what they hear from others and what they themselves think. Absent a formal chance to say something, many elders might not dare bring up the subject, especially in case they had to report on something in a negative vein. Also, knowing this would always be a part of the monthly meeting might make them listen more intently for comments from the wider congregation even as they might start listening to sermons more closely themselves so as to be able to provide feedback—the good, the bad, and everything in between. Across 15 years I was privileged to serve two congregations, and neither had such an agenda item when I arrived. So in both congregations we made “Sermon and Worship Comments” a standard part of the monthly elders meeting. But there was a problem: Many elders did not feel qualified to talk meaningfully about preaching. Certainly they knew when they liked a sermon and when a given message seemed to fall more flat. But articulating why they felt the way they did was problematic. What categories are appropriate to ponder? What kind of advice or commentary is the most helpful to the average preacher who is seeking always to improve? It turned out most elders needed a little crash course in sermon evaluating to help them know how and why sermons are supposed to work, what to listen for in terms of assessing a sermon’s biblical moorings and cultural relevancy, etc.

Scott Hoezee ’86 MDiv’90 is director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary.

But it’s not just elders or other church staff people formally charged with assessing a congregation’s preaching and worship life. Over the years I have spoken to many people in a variety of churches who often find themselves groping for the right vocabulary through which to articulate an informed, intelligent evaluation of the Word preached. I wrote this book to address exactly this need. Yes, I hope my fellow preachers will read this book and find it helpful and interesting. But the book is aimed at those who listen to sermons all the time. What is the theory behind preaching? What is some of the history of preaching? Are there key categories of evaluation that a person can tick through on her way to assessing whether a given sermon—or even the pattern of a certain pastor’s preaching—is working well?

I will confess that while writing this book, it occurred to me that I might just be making life a bit harder for my fellow preachers! If a lot of people really do get better at figuring out what makes a sermon work—or not work—that might just amp up the pressure on the preacher! But all preachers know deep down that sermons are always the work of the whole people of God. We are all better off spiritually when we can communally own the preaching life of any given congregation. As I say in the book, preaching is in the end a deeply mysterious working of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Even so, we can all get better in tune with that Spirit as we collectively listen to and ponder those weekly sermons— sermons that we hope will again and again proclaim and re-affirm the Good News, the Greatest News, that just is the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord.

All preachers know deep down that sermons are always the work of the whole people of God. 11


Barbara Pierce Bush

William Powers

Leland Melvin

Rachael Denhollander


Ruth Carter

Mariela Shaker


Each January, Calvin presents the January Series, a lecture series that helps cultivate deep thought and conversations about important issues of the day in order to inspire cultural renewal and make us better citizens of God’s world. This year, the series included experts on topics such as polarization in politics, technology and faith, medical research, youth and the church, and immigration.



In January 2018, Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse Michigan State University physician Larry Nassar of sexual abuse, read a witness impact statement in a Lansing courtroom. Almost a year to the day later, she was on a different stage, challenging a specific audience.

In her 2019 January Series lecture at Calvin, Denhollander called Christians to respond to sexual abuse in a way that is true to their identity in Christ. “The moral lawgiver who defines goodness cares about justice and evil. … The reason we feel injustice so keenly is because it’s such an aberration from the pure love and holiness of the one who defines the straight line, and because goodness and evil exist in opposites, they exist in contrast to one another. The more one understands good, the better you will understand the depth of evil.” Denhollander says that God, as the ultimate standard of holiness, has an unmatched recognition of the injustice of abuse, and Christians should follow his lead.


“As a Christian, you should be the most equipped to condemn sexual abuse and injustice in any form. … You are the most equipped to tell people who have suffered, ‘That was evil, and it was wrong, and it matters to me, because it matters to God.’

and less beautiful. So, the first thing we need to know when we are responding to injustice, is that rather than trying to hide or bury the damage, we acknowledge it, and we grieve it in all its ugliness, knowing that the depth of evil points to the beauty of Christ. Sexual abuse is so vile, because God is so good. And if you mar these truths, you mar the beauty of hope and Christ, and you mar the foundation from which true forgiveness and healing can spring.” Denhollander also pleaded with Christians not to look at forgiveness and justice as mutually exclusive options when confronted with evil. “While forgiveness is my personal response to my abuser, justice is ensuring that an outward standard of rightness is followed and the truth is proclaimed. … And this is where the Christian faith portrays the most beautiful and true picture of both justice and forgiveness: the lion and the lamb. See, the Christian faith teaches that not only does God love, but that God is just, that he pours out wrath on evil, because he cares. Because that evil is more glaring and blatant to him in all his holiness than it is to us.”

“If you diminish the darkness, if you act like something isn’t as evil as it really is, the beauty and holiness of God that is to exist in utter contrast to that evil becomes less glorious




Many interim classes challenge students to consider justice issues in their community or around the world. This year some students built cabinets in Grand Rapids as part of the Community Housing Initiative, designed to provide housing stability in vulnerable areas of the city. They also worked alongside computer teachers in the Dominican Republic, learned about fostering inclusive cities in Detroit, and developed an understanding of third world medicine in secular and mission context in Nepal.



The little house at 741 Baxter is unassuming from the outside. But don’t be misled by its modest facade. It hides a newly refurbished interior, prepared for a family in need of affordable housing. The Baxter house is part of a new initiative by the Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF) to address the housing crisis that is quietly escalating on the edge of gentrifying areas in Grand Rapids.

JUSTICE IN THE CITY As the housing market in Grand Rapids tightens, property values are steadily rising. While this trend is a benefit to many homeowners, it has created a crisis for many renters with lower incomes. Rent prices have skyrocketed, increasing by more than 50 percent since 2011. Displacement is a matter of increasing concern. Groups of volunteers from around the city, including some Calvin students, have joined ICCF in its effort to address the issue. The Community Housing Initiative was launched in 2018 to provide housing stability in vulnerable areas, where housing is becoming unaffordable for families with lower incomes. The organization carefully chooses properties to act as “anchors” in these areas and refurbishes them to be sold or rented at lower rates. So far, the ICCF has purchased 213 housing units on 177 properties in Grand Rapids. Because it does not have the resources to renovate all 213 units itself, the foundation is asking local churches to partner with it in caring for their neighbors by choosing a house to “adopt.” Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church adopted 714 Baxter, which is just down the street. When the congregation heard about the proposed partnership, it responded with immediate and enthusiastic support. Del Willink, a retired builder and Eastern Avenue congregation member, volunteered to oversee the repairs. Volunteers from the church


and the surrounding community, including Calvin students led by professor Clarence Joldersma, have logged over 1,000 hours of work at the Baxter house since November.

STUDENTS BECOME BUILDERS TO AID GR HOUSING CRISIS During interim, Joldersma’s students built, painted, and installed kitchen cabinets for the Baxter house for their course, “Doing Justice in the City, One Kitchen Cabinet at a Time.” They did most of their work at the Home Repair Service, a local organization dedicated to educating vulnerable homeowners in home repair skills and assisting them with renovations. Students not only acquired practical home repair skills through the kitchen cabinet project—as well as an understanding of the history of redlining, zoning, and home finance in Grand Rapids—they also participated in a concrete response to the call to “act justly.” “I found the class extremely rewarding because I was able to gain hands-on experience building both cabinets and confidence,” said senior Selvi Bunce. “While doing so, the class was given a unique opportunity to learn more about racial justice and equity in Grand Rapids.” Added junior Kyla Swanson: “There is so much I learned from this class, and I feel like I got to know Grand Rapids a lot better. … Overall, I now understand the importance of investing in your community and listening to the voices of your neighbors, because people are worth it.”

Dominican Republic


741 Baxter St., Grand Rapids












Whether climbing the Great Wall in China, paragliding in Nepal, sailing in Florida, hiking in Hawaii, or traveling in Spain, Calvin students are challenged to connect to new places, meet new friends, celebrate our shared humanity, and see God at work in this world.

I had an amazing time during my interim abroad: the experience definitely helped me grow in my faith and helped me learn what it means to be a Christian in a global context. —CALVIN STUDENT


students studied abroad


countries explored


off-campus courses


life-changing weeks

#januaryatcalvin Checkout our hashtag on instagram for more interim photos.







“I wanted to learn more about operating a small business... and how bigger businesses work.” —AGUSTIN PARRAGUEZ-HUISMAN ’21 BUSINESS MAJOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND ECONOMICS MINOR

SAME BREADTH, NEW DEPTH Agustin Parraguez-Huisman has what you might call an enterprising spirit. In high school, he tapped into his technical skills to start a business providing IT services for businesses in Michigan and nationwide. His side gig gave him a perspective not available to most high school students—a unique window into the workings of small-scale businesses. Over time, he noticed a pattern that would eventually prompt his study of business and accounting at Calvin.


Many of Agustin’s clients were small companies not much larger than his own— and they struggled to understand and manage their finances. “I saw that my clients needed someone with a fundamental base in accounting—somebody who could understand finance statements and budgeting and who could communicate financial concepts to their employees.”

Here’s the new lineup of academic offerings from the business department. MAJORS BA, Finance BA, Human resource management BA, Marketing (in three concentrations: marketing management, professional selling, and analytics and research) BS, Accounting


That was a need he could envision himself meeting. By the time he began his studies at Calvin, he knew he wanted to dig deeper into the financial side of business. “I wanted to learn more about operating a small business,” he says. “But I also wanted to understand how bigger businesses work.” How might a small company like his make the transition to something grander?

Entrepreneurship Supply chain management Business Accounting

Agustin smiles. “I’ve got that entrepreneurship spirit.”

Master of Accounting (MAcc)


ABOVE: Professor Peter Snyder reviews elements of entrepreneurship with students Gretchen Karsten and Agustin Parraguez-Huisman. RIGHT: Students Abby Koops and Hyein Oh discuss a project in the business department.



“The new business program offers a lot of freedom. It caters to individual student goals, rather than making students contort to fit into a rigid set of courses.” —ABBY KOOPS ’20 FINANCE MAJOR PSYCHOLOGY MINOR

EXPANDED OPTIONS Embracing and empowering that enterprising attitude lie at the heart of a series of major new additions to Calvin’s business program. The business department recently announced a significant expansion of its academic offerings: Students can now major directly in finance, marketing, and human resource management—areas of specialization previously only available as concentrations within a business major. New minors in entrepreneurship and supply chain management round out the additions. The entrepreneurship minor illustrates the intent behind the changes. Its new status as a standalone minor adds academic depth to the study of entrepreneurship at Calvin. And crucially, it makes a structured entrepreneurship education much more accessible to the many students who aren’t pursuing a business major but who know they’ll benefit from applying business savvy to their areas of interest—whatever those might be. This is especially useful in a market increasingly reliant on the “gig economy,” in which creative people like Parraguez-Huisman are


spinning their personal talents and interests into side jobs and contract work. “We want to equip students to engage in the gig economy if they want,” says Professor Peter Snyder, who teaches entrepreneurship in the business department. “You might be working as a contractor, a writer, a programmer, or a musician, but what you’re ultimately doing is running a business. You need to be able to market yourself, handle your own finances, identify problems that your abilities can solve, and create value.” That means that whatever a student’s field of study, from engineering to biology to art to international relations, there’s value in taking courses in business fundamentals. The entrepreneurship minor makes that more easily accomplished for students who aren’t able to add a full major in business to their four-year schedule. “We feel that if you’re going to work in the arts, in communication, in speech pathology, in the nonprofit sector—wherever you’re headed—having an entrepreneurship mindset and skills is very helpful,” says Leonard Van Drunen, co-chair of the business department.

ADAPTABLE PROGRAMS Jobs in the gig economy are as unique as the people doing them—and so the entrepreneurship minor was designed to be adapted to the interests a student brings to the program. “There’s no one entrepreneurship journey,” Snyder notes, “so there can’t be one simple set of courses that people should take. We’ve created paths for people based on where they want to go. If you want to do a small commercial venture like a coffee shop, there’s a set of courses for you to take. If you want to do large-scale entrepreneurship, there’s another set of courses for you. And if you want to work in a large-scale organization but approach it with an entrepreneurial mindset, we’ve got yet another academic path for you.” That flexibility appeals to students like Abby Koops, a finance major and psychology minor who’s considering adding an entrepreneurship minor to her academic plan. “The new business program offers a lot of freedom. It caters to individual student goals, rather than making students contort to fit into a rigid set of courses.” Entrepreneurship isn’t the only part of the business program that’s been bolstered by these changes. Marketing options in particular are expanding greatly. “Marketing is our largest concentration,” says Marilyn Stansbury, co-chair of the business department and director of Calvin’s master of accounting program. “Previously, we had a business major with one general marketing focus. The fact that we now have three full marketing major tracks students can pursue—analytics and research, marketing management, and professional selling—is very exciting.”


BREADTH AND DEPTH Despite the significance of the changes, it would be a mistake to view this as a dramatic break from the past. Van Drunen emphasizes that the revised academic offerings don’t represent an abrupt overhaul of the business program. Rather, they’re the realization of a decade-long effort to balance what he describes as the “breadth and depth” of the business program. “The idea behind these changes has been on our mind for a long time—even 10 years ago,” Van Drunen said. That’s when the business department first separated from the business and economics department to become a distinct program. Since then, the business department has grown to become one of Calvin’s largest, averaging more than 160 graduates each year. But Van Drunen, Stansbury, and their department colleagues never stopped exploring ways to strengthen the program. The new changes are inspired by extensive research and ongoing interaction with peer institutions, Calvin alumni, and employers.

“We heard from business alums that they loved their liberal arts degree, but they wished they had been given more depth in their field,” says Jill Risner, who teaches marketing and introductory business courses in the department. “Our new degrees were designed to meet that need. Students will graduate with more depth and more practical knowledge that I believe will make them more prepared for their chosen careers.” “Our goal has always been to provide both a breadth of options for students and a depth of exposure to different fields,” Van Drunen explains. “A decade ago, adding concentrations like marketing, human resources, and operations to Calvin’s business major added the breadth half of the equation. And now, elevating those concentrations into standalone degrees bolsters the depth.” That added depth appeals to students like Parraguez-Huisman, who likes the sharper focus that the new degrees represent: “They give me a clearer understanding of the job and career options they prepare you for.” That clarity and specialization can also help employers better understand what a Calvin graduate stands to bring to their organization.

But the depth that Van Drunen describes means more at Calvin than academic heft. It’s about a perspective on business that’s built on a Christian understanding of human relations. With the changes to the academic program comes a renewed emphasis on business as a point of relationship between people. People who study business at Calvin are interested in working with people, Van Drunen says. That’s certainly the case with Gretchen Karsten, a finance major and history minor whose mother (a financial adviser herself) jokes that Gretchen grew up watching CNBC. Her interaction with the Calvin business program, particularly as a member of the Women’s Business Institute, showed her a vision for business that was centered on service and problem-solving in response to real human needs. “It was eye-opening,” Karsten recalls. “I always thought that business was just money. But it’s so much more—it’s ultimately about relationship with people.” The relationships she formed with professors, Calvin alumni, and her mentees in the institute shaped her understanding of business. It’s all about meeting human needs, says Snyder. “All organizations—whether they’re big or small, for-profit or nonprofit, exist to solve problems and meet needs. “We want to empower students who want to make an impact, who are driven to understand people’s needs—and then create solutions to meet them.”

LEFT: Professor Leonard Van Drunen explains financial principles in class. RIGHT: Finance major Gretchen Karsten works on a project with other business students.



Alumni Profiles Calvin seeks to equip students to think deeply, act justly, and live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world. These stories demonstrate how our alumni are living out that mission. Rachel Koopmans recently discovered that stained glass panels in the iconic Canterbury Cathedral date much further back than originally thought. A closer look at the glass also revealed details that had previously never been documented.

Read more profiles online


David Beversluis has found a way to connect his interest in international politics with medicine. Working for Doctors Without Borders, he spends six months of the year serving marginalized populations by providing health care and advocating for human rights.

As the spokesperson for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, Kyle Meyaard-Schaap has a passion for effectively communicating to legislators and the media why young evangelicals take climate change seriously—because of their faith and not in spite of it. With the resurgence of the downtown area in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kyama Kitavi works with the city to ensure the burgeoning area is accessible to all. In his job as economic development manager, he strives to merge social, political, and economic interests.

Rachel Koopmans ’91

David Beversluis ’04

Kyle Meyaard–Schaap ’12

Kyama Kitavi ’06



Rachel Koopmans ’91 English/history Associate professor of history York University Toronto, Ontario

Rachel Koopmans (right) and Leonie Seliger, head of Canterbury Cathedral’s stained glass conservation department, look closely at a glass panel.

A new look at very old glass 24

Recognized for its grandeur, its magnificent architecture, its religious significance, Canterbury Cathedral and its splendor can sometimes dwarf the small details that can lead to remarkable discoveries. Calvin alumna Rachel Koopmans ’91 is exploring some of those small but beautiful details found in the panels of the stained-glass windows that adorn the famous cathedral. Home to one of England’s largest collections of medieval stained glass, Canterbury Cathedral and its breathtaking windows have been oft studied and interpreted, but Koopmans spent the past summer taking a closer look. An English and history major at Calvin, Koopmans pursued a PhD in medieval studies at the University of Notre Dame, where she delved into the medieval miracle stories, particularly those of Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury. Many of the miracles of Becket are depicted in stained glass at the cathedral. “What I discovered [later] was that a number of the stories [in the stained glass] were connected to the wrong text. “People that were studying stained glass didn’t know the text, but I knew the text,” she said. “If you’re seeing the wrong story, you’re missing the point from the text.”

As she dug deeper, Koopmans—now associate professor of history at York University in Toronto—realized she needed to learn more about stained glass.

“I did not expect to be bowled over by these works of art,” she said. “These glaziers were the best artists of their time; the power of these images is breathtaking.”

“I got to know the people at Canterbury really well,” she said. “I had determined that archival evidence had been misinterpreted, and I was trying to get them to take the step of taking a look at this glass up close.”

Her recent research is inspiring her classroom teaching, just as she was inspired by Calvin professors, she said. “I cannot say enough good things about the professors I had at Calvin in both English and history. They were such great examples of how to do scholarly research and then bring it into the classroom.”

What she and a team of Canterbury conservators, led by Leonie Seliger, uncovered was more than they had hoped for. Two of the glass panels that were previously thought to be Victorian restorations were actually medieval glassworks, dating back more than 800 years. What they had discovered was the first-ever artwork depicting pilgrims coming to the cathedral: a “snapshot” from circa 1180. Beyond this discovery, details in the glass were revealed, including a previously unseen inscription in the road the pilgrims were walking and details that confirmed that the medieval pilgrims came from every social status. “We know that hundreds of thousands of people made pilgrimages, and this is our one image from this time,” she said. “The discovery is unparalleled.”

Koopmans’ plans include future trips to Canterbury to examine the remaining seven windows in the panel. “This pilot project was really just the beginning,” she said. She hopes that her discovery will fuel future interest in the glass, particularly among potential visitors to the cathedral. “I would like others to see how interesting medieval stained glass is,” she said. “It’s not as esoteric as it might sound. It’s a neglected subject that has so much to offer. I would love to think that people might say, ‘Let’s take a trip to Europe to see the stained glass.’”

While Koopmans has been studying the stained glass from afar for more than 15 years, seeing them up close was incredible, she said.

“I cannot say enough good things about the professors I had at Calvin… . They were such great examples of how to do scholarly research and then bring it into the classroom.”



Striking a balance

David Beversluis ’04 Biochemistry/German Emergency physician University of Southern California at LAC+USC Medical Center/ Doctors Without Borders Los Angeles, California/ around the world

David Beversluis ’04 strikes a balance between exploration, adventure, and accomplishing good in the world. He works in the emergency room at the University of Southern California’s Los Angeles County hospital six months of the year and then heads overseas to work six months for PHOTO CREDIT: GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE

Doctors Without Borders. His Christian faith is a deep motivation for his work. “I have one opportunity to live a good life, and my desire to serve and to be an advocate for those less fortunate than me comes from that deep motivation of faith and the things that were instilled in me and shown to be important to me at Calvin,” he said. When he came to Calvin, he didn’t know that he wanted to do international global health work. He was interested in chemistry and 26

loved the intellectual components of science. Majoring in both biochemistry and German set him on a path toward a career in global health. “Calvin gave me a global perspective and a desire to go out and explore the world,” he said. “Calvin opened up a lot of things for me, and it helped me see the wider world outside of Grand Rapids.” As a sophomore, he spent six months overseas learning German and was exposed to international geopolitics. Through that experience, he

“Calvin gave me a global perspective and a desire to go out and explore the world.”

started seeing the ways that health care could be combined with politics. He had been trying to connect his interest in international politics with medicine; global public health and humanitarian work combined all his interests. some creative thinking at Los Angeles County

His most recent deployment had him

After graduating, he took a year to explore

University of Southern California Medical

helping refugees aboard the Aquarius in the

international health topics and worked at

Center to let him work there for just six

Mediterranean. The work was a combination

establishing small pharmacies for World

months of the year, but they agreed.

of rescuing people from small rubber dinghies

Vision in Kenya. He then headed to Honduras,

and then caring for refugees on the ship.

using some of the Calvin connections he had

While Beversluis loves the face-to-face work

there. It was eye-opening for him to learn what

with patients in the ER, he feels called to help

Through his work, Beversluis sees Calvin’s

it is like for people who live in poverty.

the 68.5 million forcibly displaced people in

mission embedded deep within him: “My

the world. Doctors Without Borders allows

life goal is to continue to use my voice and

him to do that.

training to speak out on behalf of marginal-

Ultimately, Beversluis applied to Case Western in Cleveland for medical school because their

ized people, first by taking care of them as

program gave him access to global health

Recent deployments have taken him to south-

patients, but then also as a public advocate

programs. Along with his MD, he obtained

ern Bangladesh and also had him serving

for their humanity.”

a master’s in public health. He completed

aboard the search and rescue ship Aquarius.

a four-year residency in emergency medicine at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital.

In Bangladesh he spent time helping the more than 800,000 Rohingya refugees who fled from

In 2014 he completed his schooling and decided

Myanmar after genocide began against them

to jump into international work by joining

in 2017. Doctors Without Borders has helped

Doctors Without Borders, and since then he

to create semi-permanent fixtures to treat the

devotes about half of his time overseas. It took

sick and malnourished in the camps.


Kyama Kitavi ’06 Political science Economic development manager Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Transforming neighborhoods in Grand Rapids 28



Kyama Kitavi ’06 recently purchased his

program, designed to offer racial ethnic

Michigan was really econ heavy.” He realized

first home and is undertaking some home

minority high school students an opportunity

he wanted to blend social, political, and

improvement projects to make it more

to experience college. It was there that he

economic aspects in his day-to-day work.

welcoming and hospitable to visiting family

took his first political science class, and things

and friends. He is doing similar work on a

began to click for him. When he started apply-

Between graduating from Calvin and before

much larger scale for the city of Grand Rapids.

ing to colleges, he had several Entrada friends

heading to graduate school, Kitavi also knew

attending Calvin, so he applied as well. When

he wanted to spend time outside of Grand

As the economic development manager for

he moved onto campus, it was somewhat of a

Rapids. Since he was born in Kenya and still

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., Kitavi works

culture shock, as the student body as a whole

had family there, he spent almost a year there

with designers and city planners to improve

was less diverse than his Entrada cohort.

and taught for nine months at the Kathiani

neighborhoods in downtown Grand Rapids.

Valley Secondary School.

He also works with downtown businesses

While some social aspects were challenging for

to determine how they can best support

Kitavi, academically Calvin trained him well

After his time in Kenya, he pursued his

business downtown. “Where are the economic

and he majored in political science with a

master’s in public policy at the University of

development gaps and gaps in support for

concentration in international relations. His

Michigan. The challenging classes he took at

small business in downtown Grand Rapids?

professors pushed him and taught him how to

Calvin set him up for success at U-M. While

How can we work to overcome those? How

study, how to write well, and how to learn.

others were struggling with papers, he said, “I’d receive the assignments and think,

do you attract businesses to come downtown to make it an attractive place?” His work

Between his junior and senior year, he spent

gives him the perfect blend of social, political,

the summer at the Gerald R. Ford School

and economic problem-solving.

of Public Policy in Ann Arbor attending a

Upon receiving his master’s, Kitavi worked

program similar to Calvin’s Entrada program.

in Chicago for Accion, a micro lender to small

Having parents who worked on Calvin’s

And again, everything clicked. “I was pre-law

businesses, then returned to Michigan to work

campus, Kitavi felt like he grew up at Calvin.

but I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a lawyer.

for the city of Grand Rapids before transi-

However, he didn’t always picture himself as

I liked poli sci but I didn’t want to go into

tioning to his current position at Downtown

a Knight until he entered Calvin’s Entrada

politics,” he said. “What I was learning at

Grand Rapids Inc. “When working in the city’s

‘That’s it? I can handle that.’”

economic development office, I really enjoyed working with the Corridor Improvement District boards to set their budget priorities,” he said. “It was always a good feeling to see a project or event that the boards worked on months before come to fruition.”

“I feel fortunate enough that I can work in an area that is impactful for me.”

Finding satisfaction in seeing things come together reminds Kitavi of one of the best things he learned while at Calvin: It comes from Frederick Buechner’s quote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” In his work with the city of Grand Rapids and Downtown GR Inc., Kitavi has found that intersection. “I know a lot of people who don’t get to work in a field they are passionate about, and I feel fortunate enough that I can work in an area that is impactful for me.”



Kyle Meyaard-Schaap ’12 Religion National organizer/spokesperson for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action Grand Rapids, Michigan

Kyle Meyaard-Schaap ’12 is the national organizer and spokesperson for the Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (YECA), an organization that includes more than 10,000 young people.

meant for Christians and how they are called to care for the world.

For how committed he is to this movement, it may come as a surprise that for much of his young life he was a bystander to the issue. He describes being raised in a “beautiful community” that taught him “how to love Jesus, how to love the gospel.” But he admits that climate change was never on the radar.

“We had lots of really in-depth and important talks, and he started to share how these commitments grew out of his commitment to the gospel and what he and I were taught in our household, in our community.

Then, in 2007, his brother went on a studyabroad program to New Zealand through Calvin. There he studied the confluence of theology, ecology, and biology, and what it all 30

When his brother returned, MeyaardSchaap’s skepticism turned to intrigue.

“It was because of the commitment that my church, my school, my family instilled in me to the gospel, to loving God and loving my neighbor, that I discovered I needed to do something about climate change.”

Integrating faith and creation care “Calvin taught me to own my faith, to not be ashamed of it, but to think rigorously about it.”

And so he enrolled at Calvin. There he was surrounded by a community asking important questions about the connection between faith and justice issues. From witnessing the devastating effects of mountaintop removal on a local community during a service-learning trip to West Virginia, to attending lectures and panels representing a range of ideological viewpoints, to reading books and having discussions with professors and peers, Meyaard-Schaap’s Calvin journey cultivated his passion, deepened his understanding, and inspired him to action. “Calvin taught me to own my faith, to not be ashamed of it, but to think rigorously about it. And to make sure I could represent it well in the public square and could contribute to the common good as I engage people that think differently than me,” he said. In 2012, Meyaard-Schaap took a one-year position with the Office of Social Justice (OSJ) for the Christian Reformed Church. Given the Christian Reformed Church of North America’s recent endorsement of a strong climate position, his portfolio at OSJ soon focused on creation care and climate issues. This saw him traveling to Washington, D.C., where he built relationships with people and organizations in both the Christian creation care and non-faithbased environmental movements.

In 2013 he started volunteering on YECA’s steering committee, and in 2016, he stepped into his current role, which often finds him speaking on college campuses across the U.S., meeting with legislators, and engaging national and international media all in the service of his primary mission: to effectively and winsomely communicate why young evangelicals take climate change seriously, precisely because of their faith and not in spite of it. “Research says people aren’t moved by science or statistics, they are moved by values— someone who shares their identity inviting them to do something,” said Meyaard-Schaap. “We are the best messengers to reach our community on why this matters to us as Christians, why climate action connects to a life committed to the gospel. “I don’t think just learning about the science or about the issue of climate change would’ve motivated me enough. If my faith would have remained divorced from my engagement with this issue, I’m not sure I would’ve had the tools to integrate them myself. I needed a place like Calvin to do that. And because they are so deeply integrated now, I can’t imagine doing anything else as a faithful follower of Christ.”



HOMECOMING & FAMILY WEEKEND OCTOBER 4–5, 2019 Alumni, families, and friends are invited to campus this October for an exciting weekend celebrating all that is maroon and gold. Join us for athletic events and a tailgate, dress up for the Maroon & Gold Gala, connect with old friends at a reunion, run in the Donut Dash, or come to one of the many other fun activities we have planned. There will be lots to do for the whole family. We can’t wait to see you there!





Lisa Gort McMann ’90

YA author enjoys success and ‘sense of calm’



Today, best-selling author Lisa Gort McMann ’90 is no stranger to critical acclaim. But looking back on her days at Calvin, she remembers a review of a different tone. “I distinctly remember Professor John Timmerman in his creative writing class telling me how sappy and melodramatic one of my stories was,” McMann said. “Timm was right; it was bad. The critiques from him and my classmates definitely made an impact on my work.” McMann says her work was also shaped by a children’s literature class with Gary Schmidt that analyzed the techniques of authors in the genre. Eighteen years after graduating from Calvin with an English degree, McMann’s first novel, a young adult book about a girl sucked into the dreams of others, debuted on The New York Times best-seller list for children’s chapter books.

are no guarantees in the arts. But I wouldn’t trade this job for anything.” McMann is surrounded by fellow artists: Her husband, Matt McMann ’91, is a former worship leader and emerging writer, and the couple’s adult children work in acting and the graphic arts. When McMann’s kids were just 9 and 12 years old, their creativity inspired her to begin a new book series. IN THIS WORLD OF WONDERS After her children’s school made cuts to their arts programs, her kids came to her feeling frustrated—even punished—for being creative. She asked them: “What if there really was a world where children were punished for being creative?” Her son responded, “Not just punished, Mom. Sent to their deaths!” “It gave me a chill and I knew I had to write that book,” McMann said. “Now I’m basically 11 books into this magical fantasy world, and I’m still enjoying it.”

Yes, debuted as a best-seller. Spark caught up with McMann and reviewed her blockbuster novel, Wake, more than a decade ago in 2008. What’s changed for McMann since entering, and rising in, the world of young adult literature? “I do have more of a sense of calm about this job after 12 years of writing novels,” she said. “Authors are constantly worried at the beginning of their careers: What if this book fails? What if publishers don’t like it?

This world is explored in her seven-title series The Unwanteds (2011–2016) and continued in The Unwanted Quests series, which just grew to three books in February. Fans eagerly await book four, Dragon Curse, to be released in September. McMann says her creative process changes from book to book, and she embraces writing each novel as a new journey. “Twenty-two books into this gig and I’m learning more and more all the time.”

World-renowned Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff ’53 shares glimpses into his life through a series of vignettes in his memoir, In This World of Wonders: Memoir of a Life in Learning (Eerdmans Publishing, 2019). “I think of the succession of the vignettes as scenes on a journey through the landscape of memory,” Wolterstorff writes in the preface. “As a scene catches my eye, I stop to look. … There are benches here and there where I can sit and reflect on the significance of what I am seeing. Now and then, I glance ahead.” His book moves from his humble beginnings in a tiny Minnesota village to his education at Calvin and Harvard, to his career of teaching philosophy and writing books, to the experiences that prompted some of his writing. “This marvelous memoir embodies everything I admire about Nick Wolterstorff,” writes Calvin philosophy professor James K.A. Smith. “It is wise, humane, and beautiful, infused with love and a passion for justice.”

“I’m glad to say it has gotten easier for me, but there are always doubts lurking like with any artist, musician, actor, or freelancer. There



200TH RIVALRY GAME LIVES UP TO BILLING Alumni and friends at more than 50 remote sites around the globe tuned in to watch the 200th meeting of the Calvin and Hope men’s basketball rivalry on Saturday, Feb. 2. With Calvin comfortably ahead most of the game, the score tightened in the final minutes, with Calvin coming out victorious, 82-80.

At a recent Calvin Alumni Association Board meeting, the board approved updated bylaws to correct outdated language and terms, allow more flexibility for meeting dates, and to allow board members to serve a once-renewable term. The full text of the bylaws can be found here:


ALUMS TAILGATE AT U–M For the second straight year, Calvin alumni who pursued advanced degrees at the University of Michigan met for a tailgate event in the Richard L. Postma Clubhouse on the University of Michigan’s golf course. About 100 alumni and students heard from Richard Postma ’73 and from former Calvin alumni board president Perrin Rynders ’82 about the strong relationship Calvin shares with U-M. Many pre-med, nursing, engineering, and pre-architecture Calvin alumni went on to complete their education at Michigan, helping to create this strong bond. After enjoying a tailgate buffet and networking time, attendees headed across the street to the Big House to watch U-M take on Penn State.


D.C. HOME TO SUPERBOWL PARTY On Super Bowl Sunday, Calvin students on the Washington, D.C., semester program and alumni living in the area gathered to hear a college update from President Michael Le Roy, eat pizza, make connections in the Calvin network, and watch an uneventful Super Bowl. The students on the D.C. semester program are being led this year by Calvin philosophy professor James K. A. Smith.

SAVE THE DATE! Spring Classic 5K | April 27, 2019 Class of 1969 Reunion | May 17–18, 2019 Heritage Reunion | June 14, 2019 Homecoming | Oct. 4–5, 2019

REGIONAL EVENTS Grand Rapids Symphony featuring Calvin alumna Michelle DeYoung April 12, 2019


San Francisco Presidio Walking Tour May 4, 2019

More than 100 west Michigan alumni gathered at the University Club, downtown Grand Rapids, for dinner and then headed across the street to DeVos Performance Hall to see the Broadway touring show Jersey Boys. After an excellent performance, alumni were invited to meet some of the cast and ask questions about the production and life on the road.

TRAVEL WITH CALVIN Don’t miss the chance to join one of our alumni travel experiences. Cultural Jewels of the United Kingdom with Debra Freeberg July 25–Aug. 8, 2019 Registration deadline: April 22 Southwest U.S. History and Missions with Gary Nederveld Oct. 4–17, 2019 China with Don DeGraaf Fall 2019 Hawaii with Gerry VanKooten Jan. 14–26, 2020 Holy Land with Pastor Bill and Lyn VandenBosch March 9–20, 2020


Florence with Jennifer Holberg May 2020

Alumni, parents, and prospective students all gathered in Lynden, Washington, for a town hall-style event with President Michael Le Roy. It was a time of fellowship and hearing updates about plans for Calvin as it becomes a university. There were great questions from those in attendance, including one alumnus wondering if we happen to know where Moses is.

See for details. Email to request tour brochures for specific trips.

PLAN AN EVENT Besides the events listed above, we’ve also had regional network events in Eugene, Oregon; Atlanta; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Milwaukee. If you would like to arrange an event in your area, send an email to

TOP: D.C. Super Bowl party MIDDLE: Jersey Boys BOTTOM: Lynden, Wash.

More on these events and others



“From classroom and from college halls / Arises one refrain / The Calvin spark we once have caught / Shall never die again…” While many of Calvin College’s more recent alums would not recognize these lyrics, those in the Heritage Class are much more likely to recall the sentimental poetry and complicated melody of the Calvin Friendship Song. The Heritage Class is the collective reunion class for alumni who have graduated a minimum of 50 years ago. After an alum celebrates their 50-year reunion, they are officially a member of the Heritage Class and welcome to participate in the many events and opportunities afforded to its members.

Each year, in addition to the activities associated with the broader Calvin Alumni Association, the Heritage Class gets together for four unique events. The Heritage Class reunion is held each June and gathers members back to campus for coffee, talks about new campus developments, and a shared meal. In the fall, the Corner of Campus event showcases a new and innovative program that Calvin has developed (past years have featured the Calvin Prison Initiative and Calvin LifeWork). In January, members of the class are invited to campus for a special brunch that they share with a January Series speaker, followed by a private talk. Each spring, the Heritage Class Lecture invites a member of the Heritage Class to campus to share their expertise in a more formal lecture. This year’s lecture will feature 38

Gary Vander Ark speaking about artificial intelligence and the future of health care; it’s 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 10— save the date! The class is led by the Heritage Class Leadership Team, composed of a handful of people who shape the events and represent different perspectives and experiences from within the class. Heritage Class members, we would love to see more of you at these events. If you have suggestions for other ways to get together, or would like more information on the Heritage Class, please email The Friendship Song, by the way, is more than a relic of days gone by … that Calvin spark we once have caught is now delivered to your inbox or mailbox!

Gift Planning of Calvin College


FAITHFUL TO OUR HEIRS Mary Ann Whittier and her late husband, Robert, traveled to Calvin in the spring of 2017. The California natives, both Stanford grads, were not familiar with the college, but they wanted to see their granddaughter present her senior engineering design project. “It was wonderful,” Mary Ann explained. “Our granddaughter, Ellen, is emerging as a capable, employable, Christian woman. All the Calvin students were a fine reflection of the college’s mission. I appreciated their skills, and my husband, who had a distinguished career in nanotech, was impressed with the depth of their engineering knowledge.” The couple were grateful for the Christ-centered education their granddaughters were receiving. Ellen Reidy ’17 has since joined a successful engineering firm, and a second granddaughter, Iris Jones, is a sophomore. This personal connection was meaningful, but the Whittiers also resonated with the overall mission and vision of Calvin.

Spoelhof members do this in a variety of ways including wills, IRAs, life insurance, real estate, and life income agreements. Mary Ann chose to do it through a life income agreement known as a charitable remainder trust. This type of life income agreement offers the donor an income stream for her lifetime and then makes the remainder a gift to one or more beneficiaries; in this case, Mary Ann included Calvin College. If you have questions about how to join Mary Ann and the thousands of other Spoelhof Society members around the world who have made Calvin’s mission a part of their legacy, please contact the gift planning office at or visit

As an expression of their gratitude, Mary Ann decided to join the William Spoelhof Society. By making Calvin part of her legacy, Mary Ann is letting others know she, too, hopes to equip students to think deeply, to act justly, and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world.

Calvin College Office of Gift Planning 39

CLASS NOTES Spark readers: This section emphasizes Calvin graduates’ service, vocational, and reunion stories, along with “In Memoriam” notices. Send us news of your promotions, achievements, recognitions, and other announcements at Photos must be 300 dpi or approximately 1MB or greater in size. The alumni association is also interested in knowing about important family milestones such as marriages and newcomers. Please send that news to, and in return, we’ll send you a Calvin gift.



Back to front: Corine Haak Vogel ’64, Nelvin Vogel ’59, Betty Karsten Addink ’61, John Addink ’60, Betty De Vries Groen ’59, George Groen ’59.


HERITAGE (graduated more than 50 years ago)

William B. Eerdmans has recently published an updated and revised version of Religion & American Culture: A Brief History by George Marsden HON. A Calvin history professor from 1965–1986, George originally wrote the book in 1990 for his students at Duke University. This third edition is “as much addressed to a general audience as it is to students,” he writes in the preface. The book is available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers. In his newest book, Calvin English professor emeritus Roy Anker HON again takes readers to the movies. Beautiful Light: Religious Meaning in Film is Roy’s close viewing of nine critically acclaimed films, including Magnolia, The Apostle, and American Gigolo, to show their deep religious insights and spiritual meaning. The book is available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers. The father-son science-professor team of Franklin De Haan ’57 and David De Haan ’89 have co-authored Reading Genesis and Modern Science: A Study Guide. Issued by Credo House Publishers, the book walks readers through geologic, chemical, and astronomical evidence of Earth’s ancient past and its projected future. The De Haans also discuss how this ancient and future story intersects Christian beliefs. The book is available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers. 01 These three couples have been getting together every year for decades. When they were students the men shared a room, and George played Cupid, introducing his two roommates to their future wives. The friendships have only grown since.

Last September, Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., held a ceremony to dedicate Room 131 of the H.F. Johnson Center for the Fine Arts in honor of Richard Sjoerdsma ’62, professor emeritus of music. The room was Dick’s office and teaching studio throughout his 39 years of teaching and 50 total years of service at the school. Though no longer teaching, Dick continues as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Singing. John Boer ’62 and Frances Boer-Prins ’63 served in Nigeria for 30 years— John at the Institute of Church and Society for nearly 20 of those years and Fran as a volunteer and teacher at Hillcrest School. Their website,, John describes as an “online Reformational academic library” that aims to provide Kuyperian literature free to the academic community. In addition, the Boers have published a five-volume memoir on their website’s “Boeriana” page and eight volumes on Nigerian Christian -Muslim relations on the “Islamica” page. They now live in Vancouver. Shortly before his death, Harry H. Boer ’63 and his wife, Barbara J. Boer Van Haitsma ex’63, completed an e-book, God’s Deacon: An Account of Johannes Van Haitsma and the Christian Reformed Church, which tells the story of Barb’s great-grandfather. An immigrant to west Michigan from Friesland, the biography provides insight into Johannes’ personal economy and the culture of west Michigan during the 19th century, from log hut to mansion, from native trails to railways. Along the way the story also provides an account of the beginnings of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. For more information, see Abraham Kuyper is best known at Calvin and elsewhere for his writings on Christian cultural engagement. But in his own time his best-loved and best-selling publications were his meditations on scripture. James DeJong ’63 has translated one of the most famous volumes, Honey From the Rock, to present the devotional Kuyper to a new audience. James is a past president of Calvin Theological Seminary and is widely published in the history of Reformed theology and history of missions. This book is available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers.


Making a joyful noise Last September, sisters Mary Nobel Hoekstra ’66 and Faith Nobel Bosserman ’68 flew to Nairobi with 300 pounds of band instruments. Waiting for them at the airport were Resonate Global Mission’s East Africa director, Mwaya wa Katavi, and his wife, Munyiva. Mwaya’s dream sparked the trip. Pained that children in remote villages didn’t have any of the educational extras offered to city schoolchildren, this music lover dreamed of starting bands in a few village schools. Enter Hoekstra, the first woman to graduate from Calvin qualified to be a band director, now retired after 39 years directing school bands. She and Bosserman spent six weeks teaching students at two schools how to play an assortment of wind, brass, and percussion instruments. At a third school they taught children to play recorders. The culmination was a two-hour program for family and friends. Said Bosserman: “And yes, we did make a joyful noise unto the Lord!”




’70 Robert Rooy received a Peabody Award for his documentary DEEJ.

02 Betty Houtman Kamps ’64 doesn’t consider herself an organist because she’s never learned all the instrument’s stops. Nonetheless, she’s played the organ in church for more than 50 years and still plays most Sundays at Rehobeth CRC in Gallup, N.M. She also volunteers in special education classes at Catherine Miller Elementary School in Church Rock, N.M. Her husband of 55 years, Phil Kamps ’61, an obstetrics and gynecology physician, retired in January 2018. In 50 years of practice he helped deliver more than 7,000 babies. Upon his retirement, the OB nursing staff and administration of Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital decided that their women’s health unit should be named The Philip Kamps, M.D., Women’s Health Unit. 03 While on a safari to Tanzania and Kenya, six Calvin alumni stopped in Nairobi to meet up with 1965 graduate Wakuraya Wanjohi. Born Geertje Buis in Winnipeg, she has lived in Nairobi since 1973 and has written the story of her life on three continents in her memoir, Daughter of Three Worlds: An Education in Values. Pictured from left: Tom Kornoelje ’62, Leona Zoerhoff Nyhof ’74, Lynda Vander Ark Barendse-Witte ’67, Wakuraya Wanjohi ’65, Johannes Witte ’71, Amanda Steele ’90, and Ginger Vander Wal Steele ’61.

1970s DEEJ, a documentary film created by Robert Rooy ’70 in partnership with D.J. Savarese, a nonspeaking autistic, received one of 30 Peabody Awards presented in 2018. Chosen from 1,200 submissions, the film tells D.J.’s story in his own words and poetry, demonstrating, according to the Peabody jury, “its subject’s brilliance



and accomplishment, rather than dwelling on limits and barriers.” It went on to say that “DEEJ takes several masterful steps forward in inclusive filmmaking.” DEEJ also earned a 2018 Emmy Award nomination in the category of graphic design and art direction. God’s Plan: Eliminate Biblical Ignorance is a new book by Ren Vandesteeg ’70, and its subtitle spells out the book’s purpose unambiguously. “Many in today’s culture—including churchgoers—do not know what the Bible says or how it applies in 2018,” he writes. “My goal is to change that and help them see the Bible is more relevant to their lives than ever.” Ren pastored churches for five years before serving as a CRC chaplain in the Air Force, retiring as a colonel after 25 years. His book is available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers. 04 Peter H. Kuiper ’71 has recently published a book about the principles underlying his Christian intensive counseling practice in Buena Vista, Colo. At the Crossroads: Finding Your Way Home to Who You Really Are challenges five core false beliefs that can cause lives to get off track. Pete reports that most of his clients “have found new joy and freedom in their walk with the Lord.” The book can be purchased at the website of his ministry,

Last November, Karen Snapper Weaver ’73 was honored at the inaugural “16 Over 60” gala hosted by Senior Neighbors of Kent County, Mich. Karen was recognized for several contributions to the Grand Rapids community, including a commitment to environmental sustainability that has led her to assist Calvin’s Food Recovery Network. In her


biography for the gala, Karen noted that she’s inspired by her “amazing high school catechism students at Neland Avenue Church.” Retired after 40 years as a Presbyterian pastor, most recently in Switzerland, Douglas Brouwer ’75 has written The Truth About Who We Are: Letter to My Grandchildren. The book, published last November, is Doug’s fifth. In 2017, he co-authored How to Become a Multicultural Church with Wes GranbergMichaelson. The new title is available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers. After 11 years with the Kent Intermediate School District in Grand Rapids, Ben Boerkoel ’76 has taken a job with the Michigan Department of Education as manager of the MI-Excel Statewide System of Support. This department oversees continuous improvement services to the lowest-performing schools in the state. After 18 years in leadership at Elon University, Steven House ’77 has announced he will step down as the school’s chief academic officer. He arrived at the school in 2001 as founding dean of Elon College, the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, where he increased the number of faculty and grew the number of liberal arts majors at the university from 37 percent to roughly 50 percent. In 2009, he was appointed provost and had what he calls his proudest moment the following year when the Phi Beta Kappa Society installed a chapter at Elon. Since 2015, Steve has also held the position of executive vice president. He’ll continue in that post until May 2021.


1980s After 14 years of ministry at Ebenezer CRC in Leota, Minn., Joe Vanden Akker ’80 accepted a call last June to pastor Hanley CRC in Grandville, Mich. Karen Cilley Vanden Akker ’80 is working part-time, assisting the band and choir director at West Side Christian School in Grand Rapids. The discovery of a bundle of 19thcentury letters in an attic in Freinsheim, Germany, delivered to her by a German relative sent Claire Patterson Gebben ’80 on a quest through her ancestors’ past to her own life. How We Survive Here: Families Across Time is the book that resulted. The memoir weaves together the family’s past and present within the context of a broader history to tell how “we must strive to survive.” It’s available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers. After decades of experience in the automotive industry, Ray Koopman ’81 is using his leadership skills in a new project. He’s created the Lead Engage Agency, a new company to help organizational leaders with business improvement, growth, transition, retirement planning, leadership development, and project management. How can we live more faithfully as Christians in the gap between the resurrection of Christ and the promised consummation of all things? That’s the question Amy Plantinga Pauw ’81 addresses in her new book, Church in Ordinary Time: A Wisdom Ecclesiology. By drawing on seasons of the church year and the creation theology elaborated in Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, she offers wisdom for daily life in Christian communities of faith. Amy is the Henry P. Mobley, Jr., Professor of Doctrinal Theology at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary. Published by William B. Eerdmans, the book is available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers. Elevate Studio, an architectural design and consulting firm in Grand Rapids co-founded by Jim VanderMolen ’82 and Steve Fridsma ’91, earned a 2018 design award from the Grand Rapids chapter of the American Institute of Architects for its design of a new building for Behavior Analysts of


Chaplain to the chaplains Ten years down his ministry road, Tom Walcott ’80 turned seaside. Taking that less-traveled road has made all the difference. In 1994, Walcott was pastoring Baymeadows Community Church in Jacksonville, Florida. Navy personnel in his congregation told him he’d make a good chaplain. The prospect attracted him, and with his family’s blessing, Walcott was commissioned as a Navy chaplain. “As a military chaplain, you’re in every aspect of people’s lives,” he said. “You eat where they eat, go where they go, endure what they endure. You see the sacrifices military families make supporting their service member. I enjoyed being present in all the nitty-gritty.” For his second tour, the Navy appointed Walcott to the Coast Guard billet covering lakes Michigan and Superior. The west Michigan native felt he’d come home—but not because of the location. “The Coast Guard’s mission is to protect the environment, our borders, and to save people,” he said. “That’s always resonated with me a lot more than putting missiles on targets.”

Whether with the Coast Guard or another military branch, Walcott has repeatedly found himself surrounded by destruction: in Iraq, at Banda Aceh after the 2004 tsunami, at Ground Zero on 9/11. “In those horrific situations God would say, ‘Don’t worry about what you’re supposed to do. Just be there.’ People didn’t want an explanation about why God allows hurt and evil. What they wanted and needed was somebody to be present and grieve with them, to listen and to care.” After nine different postings, in April, Walcott was installed as the 11th chaplain of the Coast Guard— in essence, chaplain to the chaplains. “The challenge is that, like everybody else, we have more to do with diminishing resources. We’re starting a program to train civilian minsters to work as volunteers alongside our chaplains, so we can prevent rather than react to issues. “The bonus is that the Coast Guard leadership really values chaplains and relies on us to identify issues in our workforce like racism and sexism and help address them. They trust us to tell them the truth about what’s going on.”




’94 Troy Tompkins serves as the medical director at City of Refuge in Ghana.


West Michigan. Fellow alum Margie Boersma Hayward ’85 owns and manages Behavior Analysts, a behavior therapy center for children with developmental disabilities and other behavioral challenges. 05 Ross Leisman ’84, an attorney with Mika Meyers in Grand Rapids, has been elected to the firm’s management committee for 2019. Ross specializes in civil litigation, land use, and municipal law.

1990s Debra Perry ’91 was recently named honorary chair of the Grand Rapids Symphony with Soul committee—a lifetime appointment. She is the lead singer of Debra Perry & Majestic Praise, a Grand Rapids-based gospel group of eight singers. The group’s third album, Con-Quer-Or, was produced by Debra’s record label, Joint Heir Music Group, and released in December 2017. Jessica Rooks Westra ’94 is now the publicity director for Zonderkidz, the children’s product division of Zondervan/ HarperCollins Christian Publishing. In this role Jessica oversees all facets of public relations for the Zonderkidz catalog. She comes to the job with more than 23 years of experience, including running her own events and media consulting business and event management for the Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Mich. For the past two years Troy Tompkins ’94 has served as medical director at City of Refuge, a home for children rescued from child labor and trafficking, on Lake Volta in Ghana. Troy and his wife, Jammie, a nurse practitioner, have started a clinic that also serves the affiliated Christian school and nearby community, and they reach out to rural villages doing medical screenings and training local people




in community health evangelism. Troy invites Calvin students or graduates to volunteer with them in medical service, education, or social work. 06 Become a better traveler by learning from the outrageous adventures of a global nomad—and laugh along the way! That’s the offer Kolin Gonçalves ’95 makes to readers with his book Pushed From a Train: Travel Lessons From the Misadventures of a Global Nomad. To entertain and instruct travelers both actual and armchair, Kolin tells of his misadventures—like being threatened with imprisonment by a Hungarian border guard—and everyday encounters during 19 years of travel in 59 countries. The book is available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers.

At the CPhI Pharma Awards event last October, AqVida GmbH, a German company specializing in the production of oncology medicines, received the top award in the manufacturing technology and equipment division. Dwight You ’96 designed the winning technology: the first commercial-scale system to successfully employ robotic arms to fill sterile injectables, such as oncology drugs. The company is in Hamburg, where Dwight also makes his home with his wife and children. Susan Boersma Schafer ’96 has accepted a position as volunteer services program manager for the city of Fort Collins, Colo. In the volunteer management field over 20 years, Sue has also served with the Bluff Lake Nature Center in Denver, Denver Botanic Gardens, and South Suburban Parks and Recreation. She was the visionary for the design and implementation of the web-based management database Engage, which is now used as an enterprise-wide system.


07 Pamela Vander Ploeg Hoekwater

’98 began her legal career in 2001 as a staff attorney at Legal Aid of Western Michigan’s Grand Rapids office. In 2015 she became the organization’s director of community collaboration, developing new programs like its medical-legal partnership with Cherry Health. With the new year Pam became the new executive director of the nonprofit law firm, which provides free legal representation to people in poverty in 17 counties in the state’s western region. For Callie Feyen ’98, clothes have always been a big part of the way she finds and makes her personal story. Hence the title of her new coming-ofage memoir, Twirl: My Life With Stories, Writing & Clothes, published in February by TS Poetry Press. This is her second memoir. The first, The Teacher Diaries: Romeo & Juliet, was released in 2018. Both are available through Amazon. Callie is a writer and teacherand serves as the at-risk literacy specialist in the Ypsilanti, Mich., public schools.

2000s 08 John VanderHaagen ’01 has been named director of communications at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. John now oversees all communications efforts for the 158-acre horticultural display garden and outdoor sculpture park located in Grand Rapids Township; his duties include design, public relations, social media, and advertising. Since 2014, John has been the Gardens’ public relations manager.

Both Nathan ’04 and Mandy ’05 Suhr-Sytsma have had their first books published. Nathan’s book, Poetry, Print, and the Making of Postcolonial Literature, was published in 2017 by Cambridge University Press. The book “reveals the history of relationships among poets and editors from Ireland


Taking the ‘boring’ out of PT Anyone who’s ever been told to do physical therapy exercises at home, alone, will understand why Dan Zondervan ’09 co-founded FlintRehab —and why the company’s website is packed with glad testimonials. As a graduate student at the University of California, Irvine, Zondervan worked in the lab of David Reinkensmeyer, well known for his research on stroke rehabilitation. Reinkensmeyer challenged his students to develop rehabilitation tools that stroke survivors could afford and use at home. “It takes thousands of repetitions for the brain to relearn movements lost after a stroke,” Zondervan explained. “Insurance will cover a few weeks of in-clinic physical therapy. After that, people are on their own, following diagrams on a piece of paper. It’s the epitome of boring. It’s no wonder their recovery stalls.” The challenge was to take the “boring” out of home therapy—affordably. Zondervan teamed with fellow grad student Nizan Friedman to develop MusicGlove, a glove fitted with sensors that track users’ finger movements as

and Nigeria, Britain and the Caribbean during the period of decolonization, charting the transformation of the anglophone literary world.” Nathan is an assistant professor of English at Emory University in Atlanta. Mandy’s first book, Self-Determined Stories: The Indigenous Reinvention of Young Adult Literature, was released in October 2018 by Michigan State University Press. The book illuminates how indigenous young adult literature “radically revises conventions in the YA genre, boldly troubles discourses of diversity, and dynamically imagines Indigenous empowerment in the contemporary

“At Calvin, I wasn’t just learning to solve engineering problems. I was learning to solve problems in general, in a holistic way.”

they “play” musical notes in a Guitar Hero-style computer game. Patients in a study group performed three times their recommended regimen—and called it “fun.” Encouraged, the pair developed another tool to exercise the whole body. FitMi uses two hockey puck-like devices that detect movement patterns. The accompanying computer app moves the user through exercises, “like leveling up in a video game,” Zondervan said. Again the testimonials poured in— including the “Best of Show” award at the American Occupational Therapy Association Conference in 2017. “Reviews on our website have been the key to generating sales,” Zondervan continued. “When someone who’s actually had a stroke vouches for a product, people listen.”

For all the success, Zondervan said it hasn’t been easy for two engineers to learn how to run a business. But his Calvin education helped.

Remembering their mentor’s original challenge, Zondervan and Friedman have kept all their products under $350. The newest, a kind of Fitbit for stroke survivors called MiGo, debuted in January at the Consumer Electronics Show.

“At Calvin, I wasn’t just learning to solve engineering problems. I was learning to solve problems in general, in a holistic way.”

era.” Mandy teaches in the English department at Emory University and the school’s writing center. Both Nathan’s and Mandy’s books are available through the Calvin Campus Store and other booksellers.

of Ann Arbor, Mich., Sam won external grants to develop a curriculum that helps teens and their families strengthen their relationships. She also writes youth curricula for the United Methodist Publishing House and serves as a professional youth ministry coach.

09 Samantha Ehlert Tidball ’08 has been awarded the Distinguished Youth Minister Award from the Center for Youth Ministry Training (CYMT) in Nashville, Tenn. She is an alumna of CYMT, a graduate program that equips youth ministers and churches to develop theologically informed and practically effective youth ministries. The youth pastor of Vineyard Church

Learn more about FlintRehab’s products at

10 Loren Scarbrough ’09 recently graduated with a doctorate in educational leadership from Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan. She currently serves as an assistant principal at Wichita Southeast High School in Wichita, Kan.




Code: opportunity “The difference between them being able to make it or not is: Did they ever get the opportunity to touch the thing that really sparks their genius?”


Ten kids came into the Parkman branch of the Detroit Public Library and told librarian Qumisha Goss ’10 about their school assignment: Given $1 million, describe how you would spend it. “All of them bought iPhones,” she said, “and mansions and fancy cars. Only two said they would spend money on college. They weren’t thinking about what they could do, only what they could have. That was an ah-ha moment for me.” Parkman is on Detroit’s west side, in a neighborhood where kids hang out in the library for the computers and internet access. To give them an experience of creating rather than just consuming that technology, Goss decided to offer a class in computer coding.

“I knew nothing about it,” she said, “but I wasn’t smart enough to be scared.” A book-loving librarian, Goss read books on coding. The books led her to Python, an open-source programming language, and the Raspberry Pi, a hand-size computer easily programmed in Python. She attended conferences, and in 2015 was in the country’s first cohort of Raspberry Pi-certified educators. Last summer Goss’ project for her Parkman Coders caught the attention of Microsoft. Called “Code:Grow,” the project had kids plant 10 garden beds with vegetables and herbs needed to make a pizza. The Michigan 4-H Foundation helped with the gardens. Microsoft provided funds for time-lapse cameras the kids programmed to monitor plant growth and moisture sensors they programmed to signal when their beds needed watering.

The project they’ll attempt this summer grew from one girl’s frustration with last year’s. “She said to me, ‘Miss Q, why can’t the gardens water themselves?’ Success! She was thinking about how to solve a problem. So we’ll program a garden-irrigation system.” Six students have been Parkman Coders with Goss for four years. “Even if kids don’t stick with it, they know that coding—and lots of things— are not beyond them. The next Bill Gates might be sitting on the library stoop. The difference between them being able to make it or not is: Did they ever get the opportunity to touch the thing that really sparks their genius?”



David Tan ’09 is a post doctoral fellow at United Nations University’s International Institute for Global Health in Kuala Lumpur, where he carries out research and training to improve health policy and practice. He investigates our social, physical, and policy environments, modelling them as complex systems to bridge gaps between disciplines, discover why interventions for health succeed or fail, and translate successful interventions to new contexts. He uses these tools to improve health systems, urban environments, and participation in policy-making. In November, Joey Breems ’09 was promoted to the post of senior government operations analyst in the Office of the City Administrator for the government of the District of Columbia. He first joined that office in October 2017. 11 This group of alumni friends and their families all serve long-term in Egypt. They are, first row, from left: Jonathan Umran; Anne Zaki ’99, Emmanuel Umran; Alexander Umran; Sebastian Umran; Anneke Lavery; Todd Lavery ’03. Second row, from left: Naji Umran, Frankie Wunderink, Anna Van Til ’16; Jennifer Lavery; Kevin Kornelis ’13. Third row, from left: Steve Wunderink, Jared DeYoung ’16; Anna Kornelis holding babyJames Kornelis.

2010s With the start of the new year, Andrew Steiner ’11 started a new job. He’s now the marketing communications coordinator at Heart of West Michigan United Way. In September, James Lee ’12 was installed as the senior pastor at Christ Community Church in East Islip, N.Y. After graduating from Calvin Seminary last May, he spent the summer as the church’s interim pastor. James credits his time as a worship apprentice at Calvin as important in helping him discern and prepare for his pastoral vocation. Christian Becker ’15 has a new job. He’s now field department assistant for the new late-night comedy series Desus & Mero produced by Showtime Networks Inc.


“This is real discovery stuff, the data is so unprecedented we don’t even know what to expect.” ALUMNI HIGHLIGHT

Looking at the sun Tuesday, May 10, 1994. Jonathan Niehof ’00 distinctly remembers that day, specifically its partial solar eclipse. “I brought filters and pinhole cameras to school so other kids could watch it with me,” he said. He had no idea that 25 years later he’d still be helping people look at the sun. Niehof is part of a team that’s helping send NASA’s Parker Solar Probe closer to the sun than any human-made object has ever come. Launched in August, the spacecraft made its first flyby in early November. In 24 orbits over seven years, it will eventually come within 3.7 million miles of the surface. That’s one-eighth of the distance between the sun and Mercury, its nearest planet. “This is real discovery stuff,” Niehof said. “The data is so unprecedented, we don’t even know what to expect.” Parker Solar Probe is designed to study three big questions in solar physics. Niehof, a research scientist at the University of New Hampshire Space Science Center (UNSSC), is working on the third: How do some of the sun’s most energetic particles rocket away from the sun at more than half the speed of light? UNSSC is operations headquarters for two instruments onboard the probe that measure high-energy particles.

It’s that last question that engrosses Niehof, a research scientist at the University of New Hampshire Space Science Center. The center is the operations headquarters for two instruments on board the probe that measure high-energy particles. “These energetic particles get a good acceleration kick right out of the sun,” Niehof explained. “But as they move out through the solar wind, they’re changed. We want to work out the physics of the change all the way from the sun to the Earth. Then, if we see something on the surface of the sun, we’ll be able to predict what the radiation environment will be like on Earth a few days later. Because these particles can cause severe radiation damage to spacecraft, and the magnetic field carried in the solar wind can disrupt satellite electronics.” A physicist and a computer scientist, Niehof’s specific role in this mission is to take the raw, compressed data collected by the probe’s energetic particle instruments and refine them into a form that scientists can use. He expects the first download of probe data in late April. “Baseline, my job is to make sure this data is available for everyone—including, ultimately, the public. But I’m definitely part of the everyone who wants to sink my teeth into it!”




Elizabeth Heerema Andrews ex’45 Nov. 21, 2018, Quarryville, Pa.

James Harkema ’64 Oct. 9, 2018, Okemos, Mich.

Marie Scheeres Vander Ploeg ’49 Jan. 10, 2019, Grand Rapids, Mich.

John Beebe ’64 Oct. 22, 2018, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Janice Hazen ex’53 Oct. 2, 2018, Midland Park, N.J.

Willard Van Essen ’51 Dec. 16, 2018, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Bartel Boogerd ex’59 Nov. 5, 2018, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Florence Vanden Bosch Hibma ’50 Dec. 9, 2018, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Esther Bylstra Bosma ex’49 July 5, 2018, Sibley, Iowa

Harold Hinken ’50 Oct. 2, 2018, Grandville, Mich.

Ruth Nibbelink Van Heukelom ex’49 Nov. 20, 2018, Holland, Mich.

Jon Bosman ’60 July 16, 2018, Cincinnati, Ohio

Sheryl Frieswyk Hoogendyk ex’66 Nov. 12, 2018, Kalamazoo, Mich.

Martin Breems ’54 Oct. 14, 2018, Sheldon, Iowa

Harold Horlings ex’61 Dec. 28, 2018, Rockford, Mich.

Thomas Brouwer ex’56 Oct. 19, 2018, Whitinsville, Mass.

Richard Houskamp ’59 Jan. 23, 2019, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Betty Den Hamer Cunningham ex’48 Nov. 18, 2018, Orlando, Fla.

Marilyn Krikke Jones ex’54 Dec. 18, 2018, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Jack Postma ’69 Oct. 26, 2018, Hudsonville, Mich.

Dorothy Hertel Duthler ex’43 Oct. 24, 2018, Grand Rapids, Mich.

F. Jim La Brenz ’49 Sept. 7, 2018, Grand Junction, Colo.


Evelyn Dykstra Dykema ’56 Nov. 25, 2018, Santa Maria, Calif.

Mildred Ter Horst Muller ’60 Jan. 5, 2019, Jenison, Mich.

Keith Dykstra ’58 Dec. 10, 2018, Jenison, Mich.

Jessica Leestma Oppewal ex’43 Nov. 21, 2018, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Gerrit Egedy ’57 Jan. 22, 2019, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Robert Poel ’57 Dec. 7, 2018, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Pieternella Batts Faber ’59 Oct. 6, 2018, Grandville, Mich.

John Primus ’54 Nov. 5, 2018, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Roger Feenstra ’64 Nov. 2, 2018, Allendale, Mich.

K. Patrick Rode ’55 Dec. 9, 2018, Traverse City, Mich.

James Frens ’64 Nov. 15, 2018, Baton Rouge, La.

Mary Scully Schultz ’67 Aug. 25, 2018, High Point, N.C.

Janet Dekker Gesink ’55 Dec. 12, 2018, Holland, Mich.

Lois Spanninga Smith ex’62 Oct. 20, 2018, Rochester, N.Y.

Louis Goudzwaard ex’42 Oct. 5, 2018, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Ross Smith ’63 Oct. 22, 2018, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Jacob Haagsma ’57 Oct. 6, 2018, Jenison, Mich.

Vernon Vaandrager ’59 Oct. 29, 2018, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Marjorie Nyenhuis Haines ’66 Oct. 29, 2018, Black Mountain, N.C.

Louis Van Dyke ’51 Jan. 14, 2019, Sioux Center, Iowa

Jeanette Haire ’65 Dec. 12, 2018, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Gordon Vander Brug ’64 Nov. 9, 2018, Naples, Fla.

Peter Van Vliet ’55 Nov. 23, 2018, Grand Rapids, Mich. Ralph Veenema ’42 Dec. 14, 2018, Cooperstown, N.Y. Harvey Vredeveld ’55 Nov. 30, 2018, Ann Arbor, Mich.


Richard Abma ’79 Jan. 17, 2018, Calgary, Alb. Robert Blacquiere ’76 Oct. 5, 2018, Caledonia, Mich. Gerda Brouwer ’75 Sept. 8, 2018, St. Catharines, Ont. Marvin Elenbaas ’74 Oct. 4, 2018, Grand Rapids, Mich. Gerald Knoppers ’79 Dec. 22, 2018, South Bend, Ind. James Vander Hoven ex’71 Oct. 29, 2018, Kalamazoo, Mich.

1980s Lori Vander Klay Johnson ’86 Nov. 7, 2018, Lexington, Mass. Douglas Van Meurs ex’80 Oct. 27, 2018, Grand Rapids, Mich. Deborah Reynolds Young ’88 Nov. 5, 2018, Wyoming, Mich.

1990s Amy Tammen Brown ’93 Dec. 22, 2018, Grand Haven, Mich.

JOHN PRIMUS ’54, 1932–2018 Remembered as “a model of goodness,” Calvin religion professor emeritus John Primus died Nov. 5, 2018. He was 86. A 1954 Calvin graduate and a 1957 graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary, Primus came to teach at Calvin in 1963 after receiving his doctorate from Free (Vrije) University in Amsterdam. When he retired 34 years later, Primus was the last remaining member of the religion department who had received his degree from Vrije University, overseeing a much more diverse group of faculty members. “He was just the right person to serve as chair of the religion department in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as he shepherded the department through a major transition in its faculty and curriculum,” said Ken Pomykala, Calvin religion department chair. “As the department moved from a faculty almost uniformly educated at Calvin, Calvin Seminary, and the Vrije University to one with a younger faculty with more diverse academic profiles as graduates of North American universities, John brought both stability and freedom.”

Primus was also instrumental in ensuring that studying key elements of John Calvin’s theology would become a hallmark of a Calvin education. When a major overhaul of the department’s curriculum in 1988 eliminated an elective course on Calvin’s Institutes, Primus assured college faculty members that the new curriculum—requiring all students to take a course in Christian theology with an emphasis on the Reformed tradition—would actually expand the teaching of Calvinism at Calvin. “A stellar teacher who was cherished by both students and colleagues alike because of his Christ-like care for each, John aimed to show that the final purpose of Christian teaching and learning is worship of God and service to others,” said former colleague Dale Cooper. John is survived by his wife of 63 years, June (Borst); his four children, John (Brenda) Primus, Gwen (Tom) Hendrikse, Ann (Mark) Berends, and Jim (Kim) Primus; 13 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

JOHN BEEBE ’64, 1942-2018 The 200-year-old shagbark hickory tree that stands outside DeVries Hall is a living legacy of John Beebe, who served on the Calvin College biology faculty for 37 years. Beebe, 76, died Oct. 22, 2018.

And when he returned to Calvin in 1969 to become part of its teaching faculty, he joined the pioneering work of deepening the study of biology beyond memorization of facts to include more investigative pursuits.

“John was a vigilant protector of the large shagbark hickory tree outside DeVries Hall during the time DeVries Hall was being built,” said Dave Warners, professor of biology, one of Beebe’s former colleagues and students. “He made sure there was crime scene tape that surrounded the root zone of the tree so no heavy equipment would compact the soil around the roots (something that is deadly to shagbarks). More than once he noticed the tape not being taken seriously, and he went out to explain things to the construction workers. Today that tree stands as a testimony to his love of the creation.”

“I entered John’s plant physiology course in the spring of 1984 deeply disappointed that animal physiology had been full and more than a little intimidated by Dr. Beebe,” said Warners. “I emerged at the end of the semester convinced I wanted to study plants.”

Beebe ’64 developed a love for creation at a young age. His educational pursuits at Calvin College, University of South Dakota, and University of Chicago rooted that love much deeper.

Beebe is survived by his wife of 55 years, Thea; his children, Peter (Katie) Beebe and Janna (Joseph) Ortiz; and 10 grandchildren.

But it wasn’t his extensive knowledge and passion for plants that propelled his students and colleagues into the field of botany. It was his compassion for people, his creating opportunities through research and work study projects, and his gift of inspiring confidence.








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Spark Spring 2019  

Spark is published three times a year by the Calvin Alumni Association, Office of Alumni, Parent, and Community Relations, Calvin College, 3...

Spark Spring 2019  

Spark is published three times a year by the Calvin Alumni Association, Office of Alumni, Parent, and Community Relations, Calvin College, 3...

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