Four Sisters, Four Alumni, Four Professions
Sisters and alumni — Elise, Maria, Carola and Loretta Vanderspek — have careers that span the professional sphere: an accountant, a lawyer, a doctor and a teacher.
3 min. read
March 7, 2018

“Maria and I will often call each other if we have an accounting or legal issue to solve,” says Elise Joosse (née Vanderspek) ’01 with a smile. “Carola is our ‘in-house’ doctor that we call on if there is a medical issue. Loretta, along with mom and dad, are our ‘educational’ sounding boards. We’re a pretty unique family.”

All four sisters are Redeemer alumni: Elise ’01 is an accountant; Maria ’03, a lawyer; Carola ’04, a medical doctor; and Loretta ’07, a physics and math teacher. “As sisters, we are close and have always watched out for each other,” continues Elise, who studied Business and Music. “We are close because we only had each other. All of our closest relatives — our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins — lived in the Netherlands.”

Emigrating from the Netherlands to Canada in the 1970s, the Vanderspek sisters’ parents settled in Norwich, Ont. — where their father became principal at the local Christian school. The family actively participated in the local Netherlands Reformed church. Christian education was not only a crucial element of family life, it was an extension of it.

“At Redeemer, my eyes were opened to the fact that my Christian faith and values impact every aspect of my life — and what I study.”

The education and mentorship that each sister received at Redeemer built on the Vanderspek family’s strong foundation. “I remember Dr. Brouwer,” says Carola Collins (née Vanderspek), who studied Biology, “insisting that I become comfortable leading devotions in class because I needed to be able to speak comfortably of God and be willing to pray publicly. I remember long discussions with Professor van der Heiden during lab prep. When I was accepted to medical school, Dr. and Mrs. Chiang drove to my hometown to congratulate me. The science department was an extension of my family.”

However, it was the bonds shared by the Vanderspek family — their parents’ unwavering confidence in Christian education, united with their love for their daughters — that ultimately brought each sister through Redeemer’s doors. “Our parents were adamant that we go to Redeemer,” continues Carola. “They felt strongly that we should continue to pursue Christian education.”

When interviewed, every single sister brings up Dr. Mike Goheen’s class on worldview. This class — long considered a linchpin by staff, faculty, students and community members alike — brought together the vast array of disciplines studied by each sister into a cohesive, holistic sum. “The education we received at Redeemer prepared us to face the world as Christians,” says Elise. “We were taught how to incorporate the Christian worldview through every facet of our lives.”

Four professions graphic.

Each sister has carried over the integrity and accountability of a Christian worldview into their professions. “At Redeemer, my eyes were opened to the fact that my Christian faith and values impact every aspect of my life — and what I study,” says Loretta de Blieck (née Vanderspek). “As a teacher myself, I am fully aware of the importance of taking an interest in my students and their hopes and dreams as well as trying to advise and guide them as best I can.”

“I valued the Christ-centred teaching,” says Maria Kinkel (née Vanderspek), who graduated from the Business program. “Especially the focus on integrating your faith into all aspects of your life and not compartmentalizing or segregating it from who you are in your career. Faith and law are very connected. As lawyers, when we are called to the bar, we take on the responsibility to promote the administration of justice in our province and faithfully serve and diligently represent the best interest of our clients.”

Given the small community that these four sisters came from, engaging with faith and culture at Redeemer was a stretch on some days. However, the challenge has shaped all the sisters as they launched into further education and their vocations. Carola explains it best: “My faith became personal rather than just historical during my Redeemer years. I believe those years were used by God to change my eternity.”

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