This month, Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., sent more than 900 graduates out into the world. Some of those alumni are heading to grad school; others are beginning careers in everything from business to international relations, from media studies to sociology.
Calvin graduates are studying and working on all seven continents, in big cities and small towns. And these graduates join thousands of alumni who are carrying forward what they learned at Calvin, taking their vigorous liberal arts education and applying it to their careers and lives.
We asked ten recent graduates of Calvin College how their education has prepared them for life after college and how they are exemplifying the mission of their alma mater.
Andrew Steiner, 22
Andrew Steiner works as a fund development specialist for Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank.
“At Calvin you learn that your Christianity should apply to everything you encounter. You can’t compartmentalize your life. You can’t say, ‘My finances are my own, and my faith doesn’t have anything to do with that.’ You can’t say, ‘I’m just going to watch this movie and pretend my faith doesn’t apply to it.’
“Going into the last year or two at Calvin, I really felt like I wanted to go into nonprofit work. But I didn’t know what that would look like. When I found out about the Feeding America opening, it felt like a good nexus for the things I really started to care about.
“Being a student at Calvin really reinforced the biblical idea that we are not out to get rich or make a name for ourselves, but we are out to serve other people.”
Matt Bushouse, 24
Information Systems, 2011
Silver Spring, Maryland
Matt Bushouse provides Tier-1 IT support for The Washington Post in Washington, D.C. He walks past the White House each morning on his way to work.
“The topics that we get into, whether it’s politics or current events, economy, world—I’m just so much more into it, active in it, and I’m able to have so much more of a discussion now after going to Calvin.”
Alison Rasmussen, 22
Business and Marketing, 2011
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Alison Rasmussen works in the marketing department at Steelcase, Inc., in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“Our world is desperate, and it’s attracted to the things that Calvin’s mission is all about. It’s a winsome story to be in the world but not of the world, acting as an agent of renewal, and I think people are thirsting to see what that means.
“Laura Smit (a Calvin religion professor) gave a talk at Calvin and said something like, ‘Tend your little plot of land,’ and being a kingdom builder isn’t about pursuing goals with selfish ambition or trying to ‘take over the farm.’ It’s about humbly coming before God and asking him, ‘What would you have me to do today, Lord?’
“At work, I have my little plot of land, and I’ll do the best I can with it. I’ll do the very best with what God gives me each day.”
Liz Steele, 22
Secondary Education, English focus, 2012
Lookout Mountain, Georgia
Liz Steele is seeking a secondary-education teaching position.
“I think I can live as an example, regardless of what kind of school I’m in, public or Christian. I can be an example for the people in my community—just by trying to live as Christ did and loving the people around me.
“Teaching is all about serving students, and one of the best parts is when you see a student make a connection and just light up because they understand and enjoy something new that they might have been struggling with before.”
Kobby Appiah-Berko, 25
Electrical Engineering, 2012
Kobby Appiah-Berko is beginning his career as an analyst for Goldman Sachs, an American multinational investment banking and securities firm.
“I think the understanding that my relevance as a child of God is not just through what I do or the work I do, but it’s through how I live my life. To realize that my gifts and what God has blessed me with is not just for me but the people who come in touch with me.
“I would say I’ll live out the mission in the kind of choices I make and the ethical values I stand for and how I make that clear in my work—keeping integrity at the forefront, being honest and open and caring through my interactions with the people I work with, giving it 100 percent, showing stewardship for any responsibilities I’m given. These are values that have been embedded in me during my studying at Calvin.”
Andrea Lima, 22
Beginning next month, Andrea Lima will be a Staff RN in the rehabilitation unit at the MAYO Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
“Calvin has given me the knowledge to be able to perform my job, but they have given me more than that—they’ve given me the mindset to be able to really provide holistic care for patients and families. . . . My patients are more than just a chart, vitals; they’re people with a story.
“It’s also shown me that you don’t really have to be on a mission field to be a witness or kind of like a missionary.”
Phanuelle Duchatelier, 22
Interdisciplinary, Political Science/Sociology, Spanish, 2012
Phanuelle Duchatelier spent her final semester at Calvin in an internship with the Center for Public Justice in Washington, D.C. She is contemplating whether to pursue postgraduate education or enter the workforce.
“I went to Honduras for my junior year, and it was really a life-changing experience, and for part of the trip I did an internship at ASJ—Association for a Just Society. I became more interested in their development work and what they were doing there. It pushed me to think about what decisions I am making that are affecting the rest of the world.
“At Calvin they focused on that. The idea of sphere sovereignty: that Christ’s lordship expands in every area of your life. Whether in school, at your job, or in politics, every sphere is connected to this big sphere. . . .
“It has pushed me to view my whole life as a Christian. When I’m voting I need to think of myself as a Christian. When I’m thinking of how I pay my tithe or what organizations I decide to support or the amount of time I spend in the shower, I need to think of that from a Christian point of view.”
Emma Slager, 23
History and Geography, 2011
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Emma Slager is a geography master’s student and graduate teaching fellow at the University of Oregon.
“It gave me a solid foundation of knowledge, empirically and theoretically, that’s been vital to my graduate studies. . . .
“It taught me integrity, regard for all people. There’s something really unique about such a small institution that gave me a certain boldness to believe that I could talk to a vice president or the president, and change might actually come out of it.
“Calvin taught me that everything in this world is shot through with both sin and grace, and that we are all involved in this project of restoration. So, in my research and in my engagement with my city, that means I’m not going to shy away from difficult topics, and I want to treat everyone I interact with with the dignity they possess as God’s people. I try to acknowledge the darkness in our lives, but also to insist on hope for redemption and to take seriously my role in that process.”
Nehemiah Chu, 24
Communications/Media Studies, 2011
Hong Kong, China
Nehemiah Chu is an ambassador and employee #2 at Bloomfire, a dot com that started in Kalamazoo two years ago with three people. The company was acquired in November 2011, attracted a $10 million investment, and now has 22 employees in four locations.
“You meet entrepreneurs who build businesses to make money and entrepreneurs who build businesses to serve. For the latter, money sustains the service—service is the end goal, not money. I’m with the latter. It’s so much more meaningful. Knowing that I’m here to serve helps me wake up with a smile on my face. It keeps me going.
“My destiny is set, so why live in fear? Let’s live a life that has no regrets. For me, that means building businesses. I think I’m good at that. I want my teammates to have a blast 40 hours a week—and to create a service/product that will change the world and create opportunities for others.
“Calvin has given me a lot. I try to pay it forward and respect the Calvin mission by building meaningful companies.”
Kelly Larsen, 22
International Relations, 2012
Kelly Larsen is working at the CRC’s Office of Social Justice for the next six months, and then she’ll be heading to Lupeni, Romania, to work for New Horizons Foundation, a nonprofit that approaches social capital and capabilities development through experiential education.
“My education has taught me how to desire the kingdom in a way I didn’t know that people could do. It has not only shaped my intellect, but it has shaped my love.
“The Prince of Peace has already come and he is trampling the swords and the plowshares (Isa. 9). And there’s something so awesome that your work is part of that story, and it doesn’t depend on you.
“I think Calvin has it right to say that we are to be agents of renewal, but it doesn’t mean that we are the ones doing the work. We are agents and ambassadors for a kingdom that is already coming. That makes it really exciting to see how the kingdom of God can come into places that are broken.
“If my story can be one little chance for one little glimpse of that, then I’m thrilled and I’m honored.”