Ali Achterhof ’18
Social media coordinator, Lutheran Church of Hope, West Des Moines, Iowa
Ali Achterhof

Content creator

Ali has always had an eye for design, and with a little encouragement from Northwestern’s art professors and Career Development Center, she chose to pursue her creative passions as a career. She creates and publishes content on various social media platforms as a way of communicating with followers and inviting people to Lutheran Church of Hope. During her senior year, Ali spent a semester in Chicago, where she interned with an organization that promotes tourism to the Windy City. At Northwestern, Ali was a member of the volleyball and track teams, served as a D-Group leader, and used her graphic design and photography skills to assist various campus departments.


Why did you choose Northwestern?

Northwestern was the most financially sound decision. Great scholarships made Northwestern stand out among the rest. I knew NWC had a fun volleyball team and cool dorms I could see myself living in, but it was the incredible people, classes and experiences on and off the campus that kept me here, engaged and hungry for more all four years. Northwestern created a safe environment for me to grow in and prepared me for this next stage of life.

What are the strengths of Northwestern’s art department?

I wouldn’t say I’ve always been an “artistic” person. I’ve always had an eye for what was creative and what wasn’t, but I couldn’t quite get the picture in my brain to transfer onto paper. That’s the beauty of Northwestern’s art department: The classes help you learn through your weakest abilities and find ways to enhance your strongest abilities. I appreciated how all of the classes tie together; that is what makes the graphic design program unique. If I hadn’t learned about the way lines and shadows play out in sculpture, I wouldn’t have fully understood how I was shading in drawing class. If I hadn’t learned about patience in the process of printmaking, I wouldn’t have appreciated the similarly slow detail that can be put into painting.  

How did you Northwestern education prepare you for your job?

Northwestern was a place where I felt comfortable and challenged to express my ideas and opinions. The classes are strongly focused on the integration of faith and learning, and I’m now finding that same concept played out in my full-time job. I’m learning something new every day, and I am also able to integrate my love for Jesus into what I do. 

What was it like to study and intern in Chicago for a semester?

I could write a book about how much I loved Chicago. Interning and living in Chicago was by far one of the greatest experiences I’ve had. Since my home is only three blocks from campus, I didn’t have that “go out and see the world” moment like some kids do when they move away for college. When I decided to go to Chicago, I figured it would just be a pretty cool way to finish out my time at Northwestern—but it became one of the most pivotal moments of my life. If I hadn’t experienced Chicago, I wouldn’t have felt so comfortable letting God take control of where I was going after graduation. Chicago challenged me to become my own person in such a way that I had peace about where my talents and abilities would take me.

How would you describe NWC professors?

From day one, I knew the professors at Northwestern wanted what was best for me. They weren’t solely focused on the grades or the papers, but they truly cared about my circumstances both during and after college. I wouldn’t have been able to go to Chicago without the help of my adviser and professors who encouraged me. As I was nearing graduation, many of my professors sent me openings for jobs they thought I could excel in. I am so grateful for their consistent check-ins and helpful preparation for life after college. 

What did you love most about living on campus?

I love that Northwestern provides so many opportunities for a brand-new freshman or long-time senior to meet somebody new—all it takes is stepping out of your comfort zone! Steggy Keggy (a fun Stegenga Hall event that includes eating root beer floats) was always a time when I connected with the girls who lived around me in a much deeper way. Each year, we spent a ridiculous amount of time decorating our hallways for the event, and that time together always brought me closer to the girls in the dorm.

What’s one of your favorite memories from NWC?

I had a fantastic experience with the volleyball team. I am fiercely competitive and totally in love with the sport itself, so I found myself giddy about going to practice every day and being able to play the game with some of my greatest friends. Not only was I excited about the sport, but I also looked forward to going to the training room before each practice. I had an injury to my elbow one year, so I had the pleasure of hanging out with our trainer each day as she tended to my arm. She would always ask how I was doing as she patiently and precisely taught her students what it was like to be an athletic trainer. We would have conversations about life, faith and anything in between. It’s people like that who make Northwestern so special.


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