Hope College’s 149th Commencement, celebrating the graduating Class of 2014, will be held today (Sunday, May 4), at 3 p.m. at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium.

Baccalaureate will be held earlier in the day, at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

Approximately 700 graduating seniors will be participating.


The Commencement speaker will be Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown, associate professor of psychology at Hope.  The Baccalaureate sermon will be delivered by the Rev. Dr. Gregg Mast, president of New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Jersey.

Trent-Brown will not only be the last member of the faculty to address the seniors before they graduate, but was also the first to speak with them when they were newly-arrived freshmen.  She delivered the college’s Opening Convocation address in August 2010.

A member of the Hope faculty since 2005, Trent-Brown is known on campus as an outstanding teacher and research mentor.  The graduating Class of 2012 presented her with the “Hope Outstanding Professor Educator” (H.O.P.E.) Award during that year’s Commencement, and in January 2012 she received the college’s “Janet L. Andersen Excellence in Teaching Award.”

Her research interests include psychoacoustics and cognitive development, and she has involved multiple students in collaborative research.  In the spring of 2010, she and her student research team received the college’s inaugural “Social Sciences Young Investigators Award” for their project “Survey of Psychological Services Requested by the Public in Various Medical Settings.”  She has also supervised several students in independent projects.

Trent-Brown has been active in the campus community in a variety of ways, from performing with the college’s Gospel Choir, to making a seminar presentation during the college’s Winter Happening, to serving in the past as faculty advisor for Hope’s Black Student Union.  She was featured in a faculty profile in the April 2014 edition of “News from Hope College,” the college’s alumni publication, and in the “Hope People” section of the college’s 2010-11 “Catalog.”

Trent-Brown graduated from Harvard/Radcliffe University in 1989.  She completed her master’s and doctorate at the University of South Florida in 1997 and 2004 respectively.

She and her husband, Michael, who is program coordinator for the college’s Phelps Scholars Program, have a son, Michael Jr., who is six-and-a-half years old.

Mast has been an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America for the past 38 years.  He is concluding his eighth year as president of New Brunswick Theological Seminary.

During his career, he has served congregations in South Africa, New Jersey and New York, and has directed the offices of ministry, social witness and worship in the Reformed Church in America.

Mast is a 1974 Hope graduate, and served on the college’s Board of Trustees from 1994 until 2002.  He also delivered the college’s Baccalaureate sermon in 2000.

In addition to his degree from Hope, he holds a Master of Divinity degree from New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and a master’s and doctorate from Drew University.  His Doctor of Philosophy degree from Drew was the first awarded in their doctoral program in Liturgical Studies in 1985.

Mast and his wife, Vicki, who is a Hope classmate, have three grown children and four grandchildren.