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Meet Hope Ishizaka

Apr 18, 2024

Hope Ishizaka and her diplomaIn 2020, Hope Ishizaka, the oldest of five, boarded a plane in Honolulu, HI with her dad and flew across the Pacific Ocean to her new home at Valley City State University. Although she was supposed to visit campus before school started, the global pandemic upended that plan and the first step she took in North Dakota was when she officially moved to the Midwest. That trip was the beginning of a successful college career filled with numerous activities, enjoyable courses, and the start of a bright future.

Hometown: Mililani, HI
High School: Mililani High School
Area of Study at VCSU: Communication with a Journalism and Media Concentration and a Marketing minor
Student Organizations and Activities: Student Senate, Social Justice Council, Video Production Student Worker, Marketing and Communication Student Worker

What did you enjoy about growing up in Hawaii?
I loved it. It’s such a family. My whole family is very family and community oriented. I think that’s the biggest thing that I love, just being so close with my family and my community. Going to the beach is probably our favorite thing to do. We would just pack up the car really quick and head out to the beach. We are also very sports oriented. All of my brothers and I played soccer, ran cross country and track. We would go to school, go to practice, and come home and spend time together.

How did you find VCSU and choose to become a Viking?
I was originally recruited to run cross country and track. I was a mid-distance runner here and did a bit of everything. I loved it and it was a lot of fun. I ran my first two years here but had to leave the team due to injuries and some other things that didn’t work out. But I stayed here at VCSU because I loved the campus and supportive friends and professors. I decided that I was enjoying what I was building here and should stay to finish out my college career.

What was it like moving across the world and finding a home here?
I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t get to see campus except for pictures online so I didn’t really know what campus was fully going to be like until I actually moved here. It was a little nerve wracking at first. Cross country and football athletes were the only people on campus because I came in the beginning of August for summer training. I had my teammates and they helped me move in and made sure I was taken care of. My first interactions on campus were with my coach and with Nurse Betty Tykwinski. She definitely made me feel secure. She met with my dad and I and said if anything would happen, she would be there to take care of me. Seeing that family aspect and how people were going to take care of students made me feel really secure in my decision. I thought, “Yes I’m moving across the Pacific Ocean and across the country, but I know there are a lot of people here willing to step up and help out to make sure I’m taken care of.”

What parallels do you see between the islands and VCSU?
Hawaii is known as the Aloha State and everyone can agree we are very family oriented. That’s really similar to VCSU. It’s how people make sure we are all helping and if you need anything, everyone is willing to help. When I moved in to my apartment Kari Stricklin and Betty stepped up and helped me get settled. It’s just a tight knit community that makes it a nice place to live.

What differences were the most noticeable?
The biggest thing is I’m surrounded by land, not by water. I think the biggest difference is not the environment, but how cold and windy and far apart a lot of cities are. I guess I didn’t realize how spread out everything is here. But I also appreciate that because it allowed me to drive and explore the country that I wouldn’t probably have even seen if I hadn’t moved up here.

What was your favorite class at VCSU?
I think one of the biggest takeaways from my classes would have to be my gender communication class. It really opened my eyes. We studied how organizational communication works with gender communication and how they’re all connected in some way or another. We focused on how to communicate properly within certain organizations, or certain businesses. It really just opened my eyes to see how far we’ve come as a society, and how much more we need to continue growing.

What would you say to students considering VCSU even though they are from outside of North Dakota?
VCSU is a unique experience and a unique place. Yes, it’s small, but that tight knit community is going to turn into family. I think of all my friends I have met because I am here. All my professors and staff genuinely care about your wellbeing. If you are looking for a place like that, I think you should consider VCSU. That tight knit community goes such a long way. In the past four years I’ve made so many great connections with so many great people because that family aspect is so huge here.