Redeemer welcomed a brand-new alumna this August. Hermien Hogewoning is the final graduate of the Youth Ministry Certificate program’s first cohort. Fellow classmates, now alumni, Hogewoning’s friends and family – including two of her children who came all the way from South Africa where they do mission work — instructors and mentors attended the graduation ceremony on August 8 at Redeemer. The certificate was awarded by former Youth Ministry Certificate program director Dr. Syd Hielema and by Registrar Kimberly Lammers. Hogewoning started the program, which offers youth-worker training from a Christian Reformed perspective, when it launched in the summer of 2011. Since then, she has taken a combination of two week-long summer intensive courses and completed an internship placement. The Youth Ministry Certificate is composed of eight university-level courses which can be completed over three years. The program is designed for mature students with existing experience in ministry, or those who have already obtained a post-secondary degree. The part-time certificate program was endorsed by and developed in collaboration with Youth Unlimited, the parachurch organization that supports youth ministry in the Christian Reformed Church. During the ceremony, Continuing Education Director Rachel Janecek read from Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” She continued, smiling at Hogewoning: “These are words written for a people in exile, who were going through a lot of transition, just like you were when you started this program. Everything seemed new, sometimes uncomfortable and unfamiliar. You moved into a dorm for two weeks, sat in a classroom all day with strangers. But I see you now at the end of this journey. You have grown so much and accomplished so much. You have this whole future you could not have seen at the very beginning, as you sat there on your first day.” Hogewoning came to the program with fifteen years of experience as an Administrative Assistant at Quinte Christian High School. She started the Youth Ministry Certificate program so that she could learn more about how to serve and connect with high school students. She has since been accepted to Tyndale and will do a graduate diploma in leadership, with hopes of eventually doing a Master of Theological Studies. “I am so grateful for this opportunity, and I have learned and grown so much with the help of my teachers and mentors. I now have a bright future and a community that walks with me,” she said, proudly holding her new diploma.