The transition to Orange City life for new psychology professor Jennifer Feenstra has been a smooth one. Feenstra, who is 100% Dutch, grew up in a small community in western Michigan. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in psychology at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She joins the department after her most recent teaching position at the University of New Hampshire, where she completed her Masters in Psychology and her Ph.D. in Social Psychology.
NW seems to be a good institutional match for Feenstra. When asked what drew her to NW she explained, “I wanted to teach at a Christian college so that was a real big draw. I also wanted to be at smaller liberal arts college so NW fit the bill.”
Studying at Calvin also influenced her ideas about education. “This idea of a Reformed Education, of integrating faith and learning, all of this was something that I was very familiar with having been at Calvin and something that I really wanted [in a teaching career],” she added.
Feenstra moved from New Hampshire back to her home town in western Michigan so that she could spend time with her family. She lived with her parents and helped out with her 3 ½ year old nephew, Ian, and her 18 month old niece, Kendra, when her oldest sister gave birth to her third child. Feenstra also spent the summer helping plan the wedding of her youngest sister who got married on August 8. “It was really fun. I’m so glad that I could do it,” she said of her opportunity to support and spend time with her family. Shortly after her sister’s wedding Feenstra moved to Orange City in preparation for the school year.
Feenstra is passionate about her field and excited for the opportunity to teach pyschology, especially social psychology, at NW. “It’s very applicable to so many areas of life. I love social psych. It’s just a fun thing,” she admits. “Social psych is really fun to teach . . . and it’s a small class so we can do things that you can’t do with a larger class.”
So far, her experience at NW has been very positive. “I’m excited to be here, I love my office. I love this,” she said, gesturing to the trees outside her office window, “it’s a beautiful view.”
Dr. Laird Edman
New psychology professor Laird Edman brings an interesting blend of knowledge and experience to the department. He completed his undergraduate work at Luther College where he double majored in English Literature and Classical Languages. He went on to pursue a master’s and eventually a doctorate degree in English from Notre Dame. While taking a sabbatical from his PhD work in English, he worked on a master’s degree in psychology from Notre Dame. He finished his PhD in English and accepted a position at Waldorf College where he was professor of English for seven years, as well as director of their honors program.
He and his family moved to Decorah, Iowa after his wife, who is a licensed clinical psychologist, accepted a position at Luther College directing their counseling center as well as being in private practice. During this time Edman taught at Luther for a few years, alternating between English and Psychology and working with the honors program. He went on to pursue his PhD in Psychology at the University of Minnesota, and then worked at Iowa State University as associate director of the honors program for a year before joining NW’s faculty.
Edman explains that when interviewing for positions, “[he] wanted to teach at an intentionally Christian liberal arts college.” He added, “I was looking for places that would allow me to have a lot of interaction with students, allow me to teach and do research, and being an overtly Christian place is really a bonus.”
Professor Edman describes his summer as “nutty. It was crazy,” he admits. His eldest son graduated from high school and then the family was off to Spain for vacation. Another highlight of the summer was the week that he spent with his wife’s family working on four antique cars for the New London to New Brighton antique car run.
Some of Edman’s other hobbies include downhill and waterskiing, reading and traveling. He and his family have been to England, Spain, France, Italy, all over the U.S. and into Mexico. “We just love traveling,” he concluded.
So far, Edman has enjoyed his time at NW. “I’m finding my life here to be very good,” he said.