Family roots run deep for Eric Hull ’07. Those roots are connected to a passion for science, but even more, they’re connected to a legacy of love, respect, and gratitude. Hull, a biochemistry and molecular biology graduate, and his wife Beth have decided to do something tangible to acknowledge that legacy, donating funds to support an endowed scholarship for returning biology/chemistry students in honor of Hull’s beloved grandparents.
Hull was especially impacted by his grandfather, Kermit Ericsson, who was a general surgeon and medical missionary in Ethiopia. “My grandpa is one of the nicest, most sincere people I know,” Hull says. “Doesn’t matter where you are from, what you look like, or how much money you have—my grandpa will show you love and respect.”
Hull benefited from his grandfather’s influence in numerous ways. His passion for the sciences and medicine is reflected in Hull’s career as a dentist with his own practice in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His grandfather’s generosity helped fund Hull’s education. “Both he and my grandma have been incredibly generous with all of their grandchildren financially,” Hull says. “I used financial resources from them to help pay for my dental school application and interview process, as well as some of my dental school tuition.” And deeper, Ericsson impacted his grandson’s faith. “As I have always struggled with my faith—and I know I will always have questions until the day I die—my grandpa has been a constant example of what a Christian should be, and has always led me toward God and Hull,” Hull says.
Hull’s gratitude for those particular influences is reflected in the scholarship he and Beth decided to fund at Bethel. Like Ericsson himself, the funds will support students in the sciences, and will encourage their pursuit of an education that seeks to integrate faith and science. While Ericsson didn’t attend Bethel, the family has Bethel ties going back to his parents: His father Erik Harold Ericsson taught at Bethel Academy, and his mother Naomi (Hultgren) Ericsson graduated from there.
Hull continued the family’s legacy by choosing Bethel, and he is candid about his reasons why. “I was always quiet, timid, and shy,” he explains. “Bethel was a safe environment for me. It was small, people were nice, and most importantly for me, I got to know so many of my professors personally.” Those relationships paid dividends when Hull worked in internships with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. “During those summer internships, I was interacting with students from Harvard, University of Michigan, Princeton, etc.” he says. “At first I was really nervous about my preparation at a small Christian liberal arts university. But Bethel prepared me well, for the internships and later for dental school. The small environment where I could connect and form relationships with my professors was great for me.”
Hull found Bethel to be a place where he was free to explore the intersection of science and faith, much as his grandfather modeled. “The science roots run deep in our family,” he says. “I grew up in the church and there just seems to be so many examples of people making Christianity and the Bible at odds with science. But for my faith, I need to have both. Bethel was a place where I learned to think critically about my faith and reconcile my faith with science. I’m grateful for the education I received at Bethel, and the ways it strengthened my faith.”
Kermit Ericsson will turn 92 this year, and that’s just one more reason for gratitude. “Part of the reason Beth and I wanted to start the scholarship now is so my grandpa would still be around for me to try and show him how much he has meant to me,” Hull says. “I’m incredibly grateful for his example, his legacy, his love, and for the opportunities he has given me. And I hope this scholarship helps students financially who will benefit from the environment at Bethel like I did. It’s important to us to give back in some way, and this is a way to give back while honoring the legacy of my grandparents.”