Counselor Sarah Van’t Hof has high hopes to improve education after earning her doctorate degree

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Over the course of the past four years, counselor Sarah Van’t Hof has been leading a double life as a college student. Often commuting hours back and forth between Grand Rapids and East Lansing, Van’t Hof put in hundreds of hours towards achieving a doctorate degree. All of her hard work is now paying off as her journey towards her final degree comes to an end.

Van’t Hof defended her doctoral dissertation, the final step to achieving a doctorate degree, in front of a committee in April. On May 5th, she will walk the stage with her diploma and gain her newest credentials: a doctorate of education in educational leadership from Michigan State.

Achieving a doctorate degree has been an idea that Van’t Hof has tossed around for years. Her love for knowledge kept her wanting to learn more and was a deciding factor in her return to school.

“I had always thought about [getting a doctorate],” Van’t Hof said. “I think all the school required intimidated me as an undergraduate. I had always thought it could be a consideration. When I finished my master’s degree, it made me sad that my learning in a formal setting was done. After that, I knew I would complete one; I just didn’t know when.”

One of the many reasons for achieving her doctorate was Van’t Hof’s drive to improve education for all. This doctorate degree will allow her to further pursue this passion.

“I’m very passionate about schools and transitioning schools to be more reflective of what the current demands are from students and their families,” Van’t Hof said. “We need to provide what students and their families need to be successful and competitive on a global level. There are many practices that schools do currently that we’ve always just done. It’s an important thing to challenge our mindset and ask if we could do things differently.”

Van’t Hof’s position as a school counselor will support her in numerous ways in her quest to improve education for all. Her job allows her to build relationships with students in a way other than the classroom. Behind the scenes, she often sits on committees with other counselors to improve student culture and evaluate current policies. Through these opportunities, Van’t Hof may be able to refine some practices to be more inclusive of improving experiences for all students.

Combined with her new degree, these special circumstances provide Van’t Hof with several ways to try to achieve her objectives.

“I have some goals of things I’d like to achieve having earned this degree,” Van’t Hof said. “I have a real interest in improving schools in the K-12 setting. I really wanted to just gain more knowledge in something that I knew could have an impact, something as significant as education. Every young person experiences it, but not every person experiences it the same. I just want to improve education so that everyone has more positive outcomes.”

Dr. Van’t Hof was able to complete this degree because she has great focus and drive… what helped her complete this was her internal motivation and understanding that this process was going to help her grow as a member of the education community and ultimately impact the students that are a part of it.”

Although she is able to reap the benefits now, there were several challenges during the course of Van’t Hof’s doctoral education. Working a full-time job as a school counselor while handling a full schedule of college courses was not an easy feat.

“The hardest thing [about getting my degree] was that I was working full time,” Van’t Hof said. “The program was a cohort program, so I moved through the whole course with all the same 11 people. My program started with 16 people, and 5 had to drop out because of the commitment and rigor. I was in East Lansing every Saturday and some evenings. Maintaining those classes while being the best school counselor I could be was very challenging.”

Although Van’t Hof’s drive and passion helped her to juggle all of these responsibilities, several members of staff supported her throughout her journey. Kristy Butler, science teacher and friend of Van’t Hof’s, helped Van’t Hof through her doctoral research. Van’t Hof interviewed Butler for a qualitative research course and learned how to communicate research effectively.

“Dr. Van’t Hof was able to complete this degree because she has great focus and drive,” Butler said. “I also believe that what helped her complete this was her internal motivation and understanding that this process was going to help her grow as a member of the education community and ultimately impact the students that are a part of it.”

At the end of the day, Van’t Hof is grateful for the opportunities she has been given. Throughout the process, she was able to gain knowledge surrounded by people who shared her passion for education. She will now be able to use this newfound knowledge to refine and improve educational systems all around her.

“I think the process is the personal growth you achieve through educating yourself,” Van’t Hof said. “When you’re studying something that’s a passion of yours, and you’re studying it with other people who are like-minded and share that passion, it doesn’t feel like a chore. It feels natural, empowering, and rewarding. It was doable with the right kind of mindset, attitude, and determination.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Counselor Sarah Van’t Hof has high hopes to improve education after earning her doctorate degree

    Community

    Cross country adds yoga and swim to their practices

  • Counselor Sarah Van’t Hof has high hopes to improve education after earning her doctorate degree

    Community

    FHC Band puts on annual Bandtasia performance

  • Counselor Sarah Van’t Hof has high hopes to improve education after earning her doctorate degree

    Community

    The student-founded United Prayer Group brings Rangers of all backgrounds together

  • Counselor Sarah Van’t Hof has high hopes to improve education after earning her doctorate degree

    Community

    This year’s fall play, Noises Off, is expected to please

  • Counselor Sarah Van’t Hof has high hopes to improve education after earning her doctorate degree

    Community

    Chad Scholten receives grants to better his teaching environment

  • Counselor Sarah Van’t Hof has high hopes to improve education after earning her doctorate degree

    Community

    FHC’s greenhouse strives to improve and connect the community

  • Counselor Sarah Van’t Hof has high hopes to improve education after earning her doctorate degree

    Community

    Bandtasia invites FHC football players and cheerleaders to attend for free in honor of undefeated season

  • Counselor Sarah Van’t Hof has high hopes to improve education after earning her doctorate degree

    Community

    Abby Stead and Haley Bieniewicz’s blog Old Soul Insomniacs is full of character and creativity

  • Counselor Sarah Van’t Hof has high hopes to improve education after earning her doctorate degree

    Community

    FHC jazz band: the hidden gem of our school

  • Counselor Sarah Van’t Hof has high hopes to improve education after earning her doctorate degree

    Community

    Freshman Kyle James-Heer becomes the 2017 USA Triathlon Junior National Champion

Counselor Sarah Van’t Hof has high hopes to improve education after earning her doctorate degree