Alison has graduated! Finishing her final 3 credits by completing an internship with the Holland Police Department, Alison received her Criminal Justice Degree from Grand Valley State University.

After graduation, Alison was hired by a local security firm. The person interviewing her and hiring her told her that her degree in Criminal Justice is what put her ahead of others being interviewed. And that affirms what we believe at the Holland/Zeeland Promise — that further education gives students better opportunities for success and gainful employment.

But when the security company was unable to give Alison full time work, she found that the company which had employed her during summers had an opportunity for her. Alison is now a sales associate and assistant to the sales manager and the co-owner of The Goodies Factory in Holland, Michigan — a company that makes candy and other items for school fundraisers! Congratulations Alison!

Let’s tell Alison’s story again:

Until she was a freshman in high school, Alison thought she would be entering military service after graduation. It was a family tradition on her father’s side. But she saw a video presented by Hope College’s Trio Upward Bound program and began dreaming of a college degree.

First she dreamed getting a law degree–and yet she was practical. She realized that degree would require eight years of education and substantial debt. So she entered Grand Valley University planning to become a physical therapy. But as she began taking the science courses necessary for this major and found them not matching her skills and talents, she stepped back again.

Not at all unusual. College is the place to discern where your talents are best utilized and where you are exposed to even broader horizons of possibility, especially in the first year or so.

That’s when Alison thought again her family’s tradition of “service”, changed directions one last time and entered Grand Valley’s Criminal Justice program, with a career goal of becoming a probation officer in the field of juvenile justice.

Elizabeth Colburn, director of Hope’s Upward Bound program had this to say about Alison:

“Alison has the determination and drive to succeed in school and the tools she needs to accomplish her dreams, including an inquisitive mind, a love of learning and a positive attitude.”

A career in local Probation programs requires “experience” Alison learned. Her job with the security firm will give her that experience. But who knows — perhaps this new job will lead to opportunities that Alison will find challenging and fulfilling. On the journey of life — doors open that we never expected. And Alison is walking through one of them! Congratulations again Alison! Elizabeth Coburn was right. You proved determined and able to accomplish your dream!

Alison’s advice to students dreaming of college? “Don’t second guess yourself,” Alison says. “Go for it, if it will benefit your life in the end.”

And — she can’t say enough about the Educational Support Program at Grand Valley. Both the director and the peer mentors have helped Alison clarify her goals and find her way to what she hopes will be a fulfilling career.

To learn more about the Holland/Zeeland Promise Scholarship, visit