The Right Chemistry

Dimnent Memorial Chapel has hosted many alumni weddings through the years. Frequently, Hope peers are in the party. Often, treasured faculty mentors are invited to attend. And sometimes, members of the faculty or staff (typically religion, or Campus Ministries) have even officiated.

Saturday, July 29, was almost certainly the first time, though, that chemistry professors both walked the bride down the aisle and presided. Amber Prins ’15 and John Dood ’17, however, wouldn’t have had it any other way.

It is one of the college’s distinctive qualities that professors serve as mentors and guides who care about more than their students’ work in the classroom or laboratory. Dr. Jason Gillmore and Dr. Brent Krueger, who performed the crucial roles in the wedding, were both even much more than that to Amber and John.

“My dad passed away during my first semester,” Amber said. “Dr. Gillmore took on the fatherly role for me and really took care of me at Hope.”

She was one of Gillmore’s research students, but also became like a part of the family. She had dinner with him and his wife Jodi and their children Anna and Will (the latter two of whom she also babysat, and who became junior bridesmaid and junior groomsman), and had someone to talk to when she needed a father’s ear.

“I used to joke that I got to see what it’s like to parent a teen-ager or 20-something,” Gillmore said. “And she once said — and I thought she was joking — ‘You’re going to have to give me away when I get married.’”

Once at Hope himself, John became one of Krueger’s research students. The teams even worked together one summer on a joint research project, and Amber remained in the area for two years after graduating, teaching general chemistry laboratories at the college this past year, before enrolling in a Ph.D. program this fall.

Amber and John met through their time in the department, and when they became engaged they didn’t need to reflect too long on where they wanted to get married. “We met at Hope, so we thought it’d be really special to do the wedding there,” John said.

As Amber told him about their plans, Gillmore assumed that he would simply be attending, but he soon learned that she had been serious earlier. “She said, ‘You’re going to give me away. I told you that three years ago,’” he said.

Bride walking down the aisle.

Bride and groom saying their vows.

Amber and John also didn’t need long to decide who would conduct the ceremony. With Gillmore’s role already determined, Krueger was to them the obvious choice.

“We didn’t really have a home church that we felt knew both of us,” she said. “So we asked him.”

While he was honored, it wasn’t as obvious to Krueger.

“I’m sure I asked her to repeat herself, and then I think I asked, ‘Why?’” Krueger said. “It was a wonderful answer: that Jason and I had played big roles in her life and John’s life in the past handful of years.”

“It was really lovely,” Gillmore agreed. “It’s one of the most significant single days that someone can have in life, and for them to want to have us involved was really meaningful.”

The opportunity included an additional connection for Krueger because he has become acquainted with John’s father, Lindsey Dood ’87, while the two have been serving together on the college’s Board of Trustees since Krueger became a faculty representative to the board in 2014. “It’s interesting that I’ve gotten to know John’s dad during the same interval, and that also makes it special,” he said.

Amber and John have since moved to Florida. Amber is pursuing a doctorate in chemistry at the University of South Florida, and John is working remotely as a software engineer for Dematic-Egemin in Holland, Michigan, where he’d had an internship as a student.

And Amber’s thoughts regarding her future after graduate school make perfect sense.

“I think I’d like to teach at a small liberal arts college,” Amber said. “I’d definitely want to be at a school that’s strong in the undergraduate sciences and research like Hope is.”

There was an additional faculty connection that is highly visible on the next page. The wedding photographs accompanying this article were taken — and have graciously been shared — by Dr. Andrew Le of the Hope music faculty, who is also a professional photographer. He took the couple’s engagement photos as well.