Finding a job today has proved to be a difficult task for many college grads, but the solid preparation of a Trinity education combined with God-given gifts can open doors of opportunity. Bethany Lotterman ’09 (December) is one graduate whose education and talent led her to a job within her field of study just weeks after graduation. Her work study experience as a writer in Trinity’s marketing and communications department; time as head copy editor for the school paper, the Courier; and her work revamping a website for a small business for her senior project sparked the interest of her current employer, the Reformed Free Publishing Association (RFPA) in Jenison, Michigan.
“A deep warmth and a spontaneous smile come to me each time I think about this award,” said Dr. Michael Vander Weele ’73, professor of English at Trinity since 1986 and the 2011 Alumnus of the Year. “It is humbling considering the colleagues and students I have been able to work alongside.”
Vander Weele’s connection with Trinity began when his father Ed became a professor of education and dean of students in 1968. Vander Weele enrolled as a student the next year. His sisters and brother attended Trinity as did his late wife Albertena ’74, who served as director of the College’s Cooper Career Center from 2000-2006. Their daughter, Corenna Roozeboom, graduated in 2007.
Alumnus Jeffrey Tigchelaar ’99 never planned to be a writer when he first came to Trinity. Upon graduation, he was under a different mindset. “I would say that I came to Trinity in 1995 to play baseball but left as a writer,” said Tigchelaar. “My horizons were definitely broadened.”
A recent recipient of the Langston Hughes Poetry Prize and nominee for the Pushcart Prize, Tigchelaar said that Trinity played a part in changing his focus and shaping him as a writer. “Trinity was the turning point for me,” he said. “I entered the school somewhat directionless, and then one of my English professors freshman year helped me see I was a writer.”
When Matthew Vander Laan ’97 was a senior at Trinity, he took an internship in Chicago at Edelman, a leading independent global public relations firm. “I was hired on full time before I even graduated, and that internship experience set the stage for the next 15 years of my life,” he said.
Today as Edelman’s executive vice president for corporate affairs, Vander Laan leads a team of 20 professionals who develop public relations campaigns for Fortune 500 clients.