Hope College has joined the effort to enhance the academic and career success of area Latinx college students and build a stronger partnership between the Latinx community and employers by becoming an academic partner in the Building Bridges Through Education initiative of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (WMHCC).

Through the program, which began in October, Latinx students at the participating colleges and universities have the opportunity to attend conferences and other events designed to assist them with career discernment and preparation; to engage with mentors at area businesses; and to connect with a variety of area employers regarding employment and internships during college and potentially full-time positions after graduation.

“I’m always thinking about ways to cultivate job opportunities for Hope graduates.  But when I first heard about this program, I recognized it as even more holistic and strategic,” said Shonn Colbrunn, who is executive director of Hope’s Boerigter Center for Calling and Career, which will coordinate the college’s participation.  “This program creates a talent pipeline for current Hope students, future Hope students, and the companies in West Michigan.  We’re excited to be a part of it as it grows.”

Hope’s Boerigter Center for Calling and Career 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 engage in experiences that directly connect to career preparation, discern vocational and life goals, and ascertain clear next steps toward their future.

The center provides guidance and opportunities for career exploration throughout students’ years at Hope.  In their first year, students take assessments to help them better understand their strengths and interests, and gain information about academic majors and careers related to those strengths and interests.  As sophomores, they declare a major and can pursue internships in their fields of interest, a process that continues the next year.  The junior year focuses on networking and interview preparation and practice, with the senior year emphasizing the job search or graduate-school planning.

The West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to working with all members of the community to increase the economic advancement of Hispanic owned businesses and to assist the professional growth of Hispanic business leaders in West Michigan.  In addition to Hope, academic partners currently in the program include Aquinas College, Davenport University, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Community College, Michigan State University and Western Michigan University.