Jan 13, 2023

Dordt University mourns the passing of a freshman business major

Emma Nibbelink

Emma Nibbelink, a Dordt University freshman from Luverne, Minnesota, passed away in a car accident on Tuesday, January 10.

“We grieve Emma’s passing, and we pray for the Holy Spirit to be near to her family and friends,” says Dr. Erik Hoekstra, president of Dordt. “We have Christ’s assurance of going before Emma to prepare a place, which provides hope even during the sadness we experience today.”

Emma chose to major in business: marketing and minor in sociology during her time at Dordt. Energetic and bubbly, Emma was known for her cheery disposition and her laughter. She had many friends on campus.

Assistant Professor of Business Administration Dr. Rebecca Rens taught Emma in Principles of Management this past fall. Rens recalls how Emma was a joyful presence in the class, often sharing her thoughts and ideas.

“I will remember Emma for her ready smile, her authenticity and positive attitude, her willingness to participate and be inclusive, her beautiful spirit, and her playful nature,” says Rens.

Professor of Language Studies Dr. Leendert van Beek taught Emma in Core 100, an introductory course for incoming students; he also served as her academic adviser for the fall semester.

“When I think of Emma, I see a person who was very engaged in my class. She was eager to answer questions,” he says. “If at some point, there came no reply from the class, I just had to look at Emma, and she would speak up. She was also a very positive influence in the small group discussions we had in class.”

Emma served as an admissions assistant for Admissions Counselor Selena Munson, who will never forget how much Emma enjoyed the challenge of cold-calling high school students on the phone to tell them more about Dordt.

“She would come breezing into my office for our weekly meetings, often with a Defender sandwich in hand, telling me about what she had going on that week—her other job in the Rec Center, the sociology minor she picked up mid-semester, her voice lessons, her off-campus job, or the latest hijinks she was getting up to with the many friends she had,” says Munson. “I will always remember Emma as a bright, sparkling ball of energy, who lifted whatever room she walked into and always left me feeling more energized than before.”

“She held nothing back,” adds Bailey Moret, who also worked with Emma in the Admissions Office. “She would introduce herself to anyone and quickly befriend them or make them smile. She made you feel seen, laughed easily, and loved so well.”

Associate Professor of Music Dr. Carrie Groenewold says that Emma had a lovely voice and participated in the music program on a vocal scholarship, taking voice lessons and joining Bella Voce, the women’s choir, last fall.

“Emma had a bright and energetic demeanor, and others seemed to gravitate towards her,” says Groenewold. “She quickly made good friendships in choir.”

Emma worked during the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning shifts at the Rec Center as well. Assistant Athletic Director Trent Roose recalls how dependable and hard-working she was.

“She was a joy to interact with and had a heart for serving others. When her tasks were finished, she always enjoyed recapping the week or weekend and connecting with our morning community members. It was common to hear her laughing with her co-workers or striking up a conversation with our facility users.”

Emma and her friends were avid Defender hockey fans, attending every single home game. Head Hockey Coach Tyler Morgan and his team enjoyed knowing that they would see Emma after a game right outside the locker room.

“Emma had the most contagious laugh, and she always wanted to be sure that people were having fun. There will always be a spot in the student section for Emma Nibbelink.”

“Emma knew and loved her Savior and is now with him in eternal glory,” says Aaron Baart, dean of chapel and chief of staff. “Yet, Emma will be dearly missed and mourned for by her family and the close friends she made during her time at Dordt. Please pray for God’s nearness and comfort for all her friends and family during this incredibly difficult time.”

Funeral arrangements for Emma Nibbelink as well as her life story will be posted on the Hartquist Funeral Services website in the coming days.

A picture of campus behind yellow prairie flowers