The impact of the college’s Phelps Scholars Program, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, will be the focus of this year’s Green Lecture on Faith, Race and Community.
Former Hope staff and faculty member Yoli Vega, whose many years of involvement with the program included serving as its second director from 2013 to 2019, will present “The Phelps Scholars Program: Imagining and Embodying Lives of Generational Impact” on Monday, Jan. 22, at 4 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium.
The public is invited. Admission is free.
The Phelps Scholars Program is an academic program for first-year students interested in learning about issues of race and culture. They take one course together each semester, live in the same residence hall, participate in discussions and workshops, take part in service projects and engage in various social activities. A total of 46 students are participating in the program this year.
The program has earned national recognition. In 2009, it was recognized by the Association of American Colleges and Universities as an exemplary diversity program in higher education.
Vega will describe how 25 years of engaging faith, race and community in the Phelps Scholars Program has shifted the campus climate and fulfilled the college’s mission while preparing students for lives of impact. Her talk will be complemented by brief remarks from the program’s current director, Kasey Stevens, regarding the ongoing critical impact of engaging the themes of faith, race and community at a Christian liberal arts college.
Vega, who is a 1988 Hope graduate and has a Master of Education degree from Grand Valley State University, held a variety of roles at the college from 1990 until 2022. In addition to her six years as director of the Phelps Scholars Program, she had served as resident director in Scott Hall, where the program is based, from 2001 to 2004, and for several years was among the faculty who taught the “First-Year Seminar” courses in which all students in the program enroll.
After graduating from Hope, she was an English teacher at Holland West Middle School from June 1988 to May 1990. She was also an interim multicultural counselor with the college’s student development office from February to May of 1990.
Vega was on the college’s admissions staff from 1990 to 1993, and was director of multicultural education from 1993 to 1995. She was assistant director of the Hope College TRIO Upward Bound program for high school students from 1995 to 2013, having previously worked with Upward Bound in a variety of ways for nine years, including as a tutor-counselor, teacher, and facilitator of parent and student workshops.
She was an assistant professor of education at Hope in conjunction with her 2013-19 service as director of the Phelps Scholars Program. From 2019 through 2022, she was a senior academic and career advisor with the college’s Boerigter Center for College and Career.
In 2003, Vega received a Michigan Campus Compact (MCC) Faculty/Staff Community Service-Learning Award. In 2018, she received the college’s Motoichiro Oghimi Global Courage Award.
First held in 2019, the Green Lecture on Faith, Race and Community is sponsored by the college’s American Ethnic Studies program and Phelps Scholars Program. The annual lecture series is named in honor of Dr. Chuck Green, who retired in December 2021 as professor emeritus of psychology after teaching at the college since 1983. He was founding director of the Phelps Scholars Program, which he led from 1998 through 2013, and emphasized teaching and advocacy around issues of diversity and inclusion across his nearly four decades at Hope.
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The Maas Center is located at 264 Columbia Ave., between 10th and 13th streets.