Hope College will celebrate its new Boerigter Center for Calling and Career with a ribbon cutting on Friday, Sept. 28, at 1:30 p.m. at the front patio of the DeWitt Center, with an open house following immediately.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

The open house will run until 4 p.m. and will feature hors d’oeuvres and refreshments.  Additional features for students will include free t-shirts (while supplies last), a photo booth with career props, and a tent with the college’s popular H-cookies as well as the opportunity to write their career aspirations on a “Where Will You Go?” banner.

The Boerigter Center for Calling and Career, which opened shortly after the start of the school year, is a college-wide initiative that seeks to inspire students to engage in lifelong practices of career development by emphasizing discernment, preparation and pursuit.  Programming for the Boerigter Center is designed to enable all Hope students, beginning in their first semester, to understand their strengths, engage in experiences that directly connect to career preparation, discern vocational and life goals, and ascertain clear next steps toward their future.  Integrated into the academic program of the college, it includes and expands on the work of Hope’s Career Development Center in combination with staff from the college’s academic advising and alumni and family engagement programs.

“We are off to a great start,” said Shonn Colbrunn, who became the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career’s first executive director in June.  “Over the summer, the Boerigter Center team initiated a number of new activities focused on engaging students, faculty, staff, employers and alumni.  The entire campus has been supportive.  We are feeling the energy.”

The Boerigter Center is building upon Hope’s strong foundation for graduate outcomes. In Hope’s most recent graduate survey, 94 percent of the Class of 2017 was in the workforce or graduate school within six months of graduation, with 96 percent of the class having participated in experiential learning.

The center is in extensively renovated space on the main level of the DeWitt Center chosen for its central campus location and designed to encourage students to pass through and visit — ideally to connect with the professional or student staff, but even if they’re simply looking for a place to study.

“Number one is that this is intended to be an inviting and open space,” Colbrunn said.  “Students may stop by during ‘drop-in’ hours that we keep open or make appointments in advance.  They’re also welcome if they’re looking for a place to sit and visit between classes.”

Floor-to-ceiling windows on the exterior walls to the south and west along with the extensive use of glass on interior walls provide much natural light and a sense of openness within.  Several tables and a cluster of cushioned chairs in the center of the area are available not only during weekday business hours but whenever the building is open.  Multiple small conference rooms provide space for advising sessions or other meetings.  One of the rooms includes a camera and monitor so that students can conduct mock interviews and see how they come across; another offers a quiet, professional location for students who may be conducting interviews via Skype.  The staff is in an open-office environment that is lightly separated from the rest of the space by a half-height wall topped by windows.

The location was formerly occupied by student offices and a lounge that had found other homes in either the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication that opened in 2005 or the Jim and Martie Bultman Student Center that opened in 2017, the latter of which is connected to the DeWitt Center.  Nearby offices in DeWitt include the Registrar’s Office through which academic advising operates and Alumni and Family Engagement — along with others such as the Hope College Bookstore, Print and Mail Services, and the Department of Theatre and main theatre.  Just a few steps further away in the student center are the college’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Student Life Office and Kletz Market café.

“We’re in a naturally high-traffic area, and we couldn’t have picked a better location in my opinion,” Colbrunn said.

The Boerigter Center for Career and Calling was made possible by a major gift from SoundOff Signal in 2016 in honor of founder and chairman George Boerigter, who is a 1961 Hope College graduate, and his wife, Sibilla. Based in Hudsonville, SoundOff Signal provides high-tech safety lighting solutions across the globe.

The DeWitt Center is located at 141 E. 12th St., facing Columbia Avenue between 10th and 13th streets.