Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Dennis Feaster, Sociology and Social Work; Dr. Marsely Kehoe, Mellon Scholars Program

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In an effort to merge social science and humanities methodology, I undertook an ethnographic case study of Ms. Kate Veldink, a student in the Ready for Life (RFL) program at Hope College. My research question is: What are the day-to-day experiences of a RFL student on Hope College’s campus? I obtained consent from Ms. Veldink and her family, enabling us to embark as research partners in this query. Through the Mellon Scholars Program of Hope College, we created an inquiry-into-research project as an extension to the class Human Behavior and the Social Environment in the Department of Sociology and Social Work. We investigated accessibility and awareness for students with disabilities on-campus in the RFL program. Under the mentorship of advisor Dr. Dennis Feaster, we developed a project to showcase Ms. Veldink’s vision for greater integration between Hope College and RFL. We used oral history methodology to conduct a series of interviews with Ms. Veldink and her family, friends, and community supports. Both the Grounded Theory and Cooley’s looking-glass self concept further informed our process as these interviews were then analyzed and compiled into a short documentary that brings to light the story of Ms. Veldink and her peers as they navigate Hope College through the RFL program, and calls to action the administration of Hope College to recognize and react to these students’ realities. A central theme that emerged from this process is the paradox between accessibility and barriers for RFL students. Hope College welcomes RFL students into the campus community, but inviting these students into our daytime routine is not enough. Rather, we must embrace the challenge of Hope College’s core values of “being a caring community” that “fosters the development of the whole person - intellectually, spiritually, socially, and physically.”


This research was supported by the Hope College Mellon Scholars Program.

Included in

Sociology Commons