People of Central – Hope Baeckelandt

Story by Anna Konen

Photo courtesy of Bart Baeckelandt

Freshman Hope Baeckelandt has grown up with a great love of the outdoors, which has been a huge part of her life for as long as she can remember.

“Throughout my life I have always been outside. From climbing trees to paddle boarding and swimming in our lake, the outdoors really became my safe place and where I went to destress and escape,” Baeckelandt said.

She was first drawn to central because they had the major she wanted; Outdoor and Environmental Recreation, which is in the Recreation Parks and Leisure program. This program just got voted first world, another encouraging thing for those majoring in it.

“I came into Central knowing about the program, and I was very interested in it.  People don’t usually find out about it until later into college. It really benefited me because I was able to get ahead in my major,” Baeckelandt said.

Baeckelandt’s minor is substance abuse, and she is excited to pair the two together.  With the help of her minor, she will be able to help rehabilitate people who are struggling with addiction and help them to get better through outdoor and recreational activities.

With this awesome program, Baeckelandt became certified in many areas in the RPL 205 Outdoor Leadership class that she is taking.

“I get certified in group facilitation by Boy Scouts of America, belaying and emergency take-downs on the high ropes course as well as on the rock wall,” she said.

Baeckelandt is excited about this major as it holds a special place in her heart. Although she does not know where she sees herself in ten years, she is sure of one thing.

“I just know I want to help people get better through the outdoors and nature because I know the outdoors heal,” she said.

Baeckelandt only has good things to say about her major and experience here at Central.

“The professors are awesome people and RPL is really welcoming in general, so, if you are here at Central and do not know what you want to do I definitely recommend taking a class or two in the RPL community.”