Hospers Is Home


Megan Hodgin (second from right) celebrates a wedding with former Hospers Hall wingmates.

She enters the living room carrying a cardboard box and wearing a big grin. Stopping just shy of the overstuffed couch where we are gathered, she announces she has “a little something” to share with us. Reaching into the box, she passes out six turquoise ceramic mugs. We read the inscription on the mugs, and almost in unison, we respond with laughter and a few misty eyes.

Printed on each one are three little words that hold years of story: Hospers is home.

Simple but true. That was our experience. The seven of us met at Northwestern, and Hospers Hall was home for four years. In many ways, Hospers—the spirit, the attitude, the family—still is home, even if we no longer live there together. Our story is not unlike so many others, but it is special to us.

When we first met, nearly 12 years ago, Hospers was the only thing we had in common. I came from St. Joseph, Mo., and met these women from Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin and even California. No two of us had the same hometown or the same major. The only reason we were invited into one another’s lives is because we were fortunate enough to be assigned rooms on the same floor in the same dorm.

In my opinion, there was nothing special about the cinder block walls, the outdated lounge furniture, or the ubiquitous door decorations—except they were ours. Ours to call home. A place to belong and a place to discover where in the world God would call us.

The second floor of Hospers Hall became a sanctuary where our differences sparked community, not separation. When one of us was groaning over the flashcards for Anatomy and Physiology, the rest groaned alongside her. When I was hunkered down in the theatre building for a late night of programming lighting cues, the others brought me dinner. When still another was developing her senior psychology research project, we all participated in her survey and then attended her presentation. Hospers was a home—even more, a family—where I could be fully myself while also belonging to something so much bigger than me.

Nearly eight years after graduation, I cannot imagine life without these women. They remind me who I am, and they trust me to return the favor. When we were juniors and cancer ended my mother’s life, they drove four hours to attend her funeral. When I decided to go to seminary rather than pursue a career in theatre, they cheered me on throughout the entire application process.

Since then, I have had the privilege of officiating at their weddings and praying over their babies. In fact, we have managed to coordinate gatherings with each other almost every year since we left the dorm rooms where our relationships began.

This year we decided that turning 30 was worthy of celebration, so 14 of us—counting spouses and children—rented a large farmhouse over Christmas break and spent three days sharing stories, laughing and living together again, if only for a short time. Just like in our Hospers days, it didn’t matter that the house had multiple rooms. We spent most of our time nestled on the overstuffed couch, savoring every moment of each other’s company.

We also took time to grieve. Brittany Caffey ’06 is the friend who gave us the mugs and is also the current resident director of Hospers Hall. During our time together, she shared that Hospers will transition from female housing to male housing next fall. I cannot deny that there was a real feeling of loss.

And yet, the mugs are still accurate. Hospers is home. It has nothing to do with a building. It has everything to do with story, spirit and sisterhood. When male students move in next fall, I pray that they may find a way to add “brotherhood” to that list. Hospers, the building, has not been my home for a number of years. But Hospers, the experience and the community, will forever be part of who I am.

The Rev. Megan Hodgin ’06 earned a Master of Divinity degree from Western Theological Seminary and serves as minister of discipleship and missions at Fellowship Reformed Church in Holland, Mich.

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