The Student Development Office is this month’s recipient of the Kuyper College Service Award. The Award recognizes their extraordinary efforts in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Curt Essenburg, Kat Brouwers, and Mike McCarty are some of the talented and dedicated individuals who help students flourish at Kuyper College. The Kuyper community deeply values all the work they do.
The Student Development Office supports, encourages, and challenges students to become who God created them to be while promoting a close, tight-knit community that serves one another. Kat Brouwers, Coordinator of Student Success, said, “Working with students is what I enjoy most about my job. As an alum, the opportunity to serve the student body and care for them in ways I was cared for during my time here is very rewarding.”
Kuyper, newly designated as a Work College, is the first of its kind in Michigan. KuyperWorks™, the College’s educational work program, provides students with additional education through the utilization of on-campus jobs as another learning environment. Curt Essenburg, Dean of Students and Work, states, “KuyperWorks gives students a more holistic education that will equip them to pursue their calling. Students already receive a top-notch education through the academic curriculum – KuyperWorks comes alongside to provide employment skills that will ensure Kuyper graduates are great employees.”
Recipients of the Kuyper Service Award are chosen for exhibiting the spirit and work of the College’s mission statement. The members of the Student Development Office exemplify this in many ways. Mike McCarty, Director of Student Development, said, “I believe Jesus is Lord over, and concerned with, all areas of the holistic student experience: academics, social life, mental health, faith formation, work, and family. We help discern students’ needs and determine how best to meet them.”
During COVID-19, the Student Development Department had to adjust quickly to the new world created by the pandemic. “The Kuyper College community is one of the entities that make us most special,” said Essenburg. Many activities such as chapel services, student retreats, student work, and keeping tabs on the welfare of students had to move online. As a result, Student Development hosted many online activities, including virtual chapels, zoom call “living room hangouts,” online trivia tournaments, to name a few. Through this new “normal”, the Student Development staff cared for Kuyper students inventively in many unique ways.
“At its core, the work of the Student Development Office is about supporting students,” said Brouwers. “The most important part of my job is letting students know that, wherever they are in their Kuyper journey, they are known and valued for who they are. The times I get to spur students on, being a sounding board and praying for them are the highlights of my day.” Mike McCarty added, “We’re constantly striving to bear witness to the presence and love of God in any situation a student is walking through. We work to facilitate conversations, worship services, and classes that invite students to encounter the living God.”