Building a Calvin network

Libby DeKraker ’13

HOMETOWN: Kalamazoo, Mich.
MAJOR: Kinesiology; pre-PT
NEXT STEPS: "Decide between several grad school offers to doctoral programs in PT."

Throw a pebble in a pond and watch the ripples grow from it. That's a great picture of what your friendships at Calvin will be like.

Take Libby DeKraker, for instance. Libby arrived at Calvin with a few high school friends, but she made an important decision and stuck to it:

"I decided to really put myself out there to develop friendships."

That turned out to be a lot easier than she expected.

"It was really easy to make friends in the dorms. Facebook friends increased exponentially during my freshman year at Calvin because I met so many people in my dorm and through my classes."

Dorm banquets, Chaos Day, late night conversations, class projects, Instagram photos and basketball games—these were the building blocks for her many friendships. Floormates became roommates, classmates became study partners, workout buddies turned into traveling companions, professors turned into mentors.

"When I went to [the semester program in] York, I didn't think I'd find anyone that I'd get much closer to. I was wrong! The friends I met from Calvin while in York have become the best of friends."

Professor Brian Bolt was pretty intentional about helping the Calvin group connect while they traveled around Britain, taking in sporting events from football (aka, soccer) to rugby and cricket. And what helps a group bond more than biking through a strange city or attending a Manchester United game?

Returning to Calvin, Libby's circle of friends just kept growing. These connections morphed into new activities and even jobs working in the fitness center and becoming a personal trainer in Calvin's Healthy Habits program. Her relationships with professors deepened, too.

"Dr. Walton was my advisor from day one and has helped with everything from thinking about what classes to take to what jobs to pursue and finally what PT schools to apply to. I remember at first feeling really intimidated by Dr. Walton—she is so accomplished. Now I feel like I can talk to her about anything."

Thanks to friends who encouraged her and professors who wrote outstanding recommendations for her grad school applications, Libby is now deciding which offer to accept to complete her doctorate in physical therapy.

VERGE: spring 2014

First-Year Experience