By Elizabeth Wolbrink
“Our jobs are simply how we support ourselves,” said Wendy Parr-Holtvluwer (B.A. ’94) attorney at law, “but I learned that I can make a more meaningful impact by using my job and job-related skills to create opportunities for something that is much more satisfying.”
Parr-Holtvluwer majored in English and minored in accounting.
“I work at a local Grand Rapids law firm, Miller Johnson.” Parr-Holtvluwer said. “I've been with this firm since 2000, after graduating from Ohio Northern University College of Law.”
Before working at Miller Johnson, Parr-Holtvluwer worked as a legal secretary for Bill Azkoul at his Grand Rapids law firm, William Azkoul, P.C.
Now she is a tax attorney who focuses on estate planning, along with the creation and development of charitable organizations and foundations. Her specialties include probate litigation, guardianships and adoptions.
“Some days, I go to court to argue my client’s case at a hearing or take testimony in a trial. The only type of court I practice in is the probate court, which focuses on decedent estate administration, guardianships and conservatorships for incompetent individuals, as well as estate and trust dispute litigation.”
She said she has meetings on some days with clients who want to create or change their wills and trusts, or who want to name guardians for their children who are minors.
“I enjoy the diversity of what I do; every client and every situation is unique, and it's always different than the one before. It's never boring!”
As a people person she enjoys the client interaction, and commented that meeting with clients regardless of the issues at hand is her favorite aspect of the job. They discuss the needs, plans, goals and perhaps the recent loss of a loved one. She helps resolve issues and says the process of knowing her clients is not only enjoyable but fulfilling, especially when she has a part in helping to relieve their stress.”
“My faith gives me an added sensitivity to the needs of my clients, particularly when their needs run deeper than the legal issue at hand,” Parr-Holtvluwer shared with sympathy. “Maintaining a Christ-centered world view helps me maintain objectivity during difficult or tricky situations. It reminds me to search for a responsible solution, rather than the fastest or easiest solution.”
“Her advice to students is: never make excuses.”
“We all make mistakes, but take responsibility for your work,” Parr-Holtvluwer said. “When something goes wrong and you need help, first come up with a proposed solution and also a new procedure to ensure the same mistake will not be repeated. Then seek the help you need. Show your supervisor or boss your problem-solving skills. They may be impressed despite your mistake and, as a result, have more confidence in you down the road.
Parr-Holtvluwer said the faculty at Cornerstone, Grand Rapids Baptist College at the time, profoundly influenced her.
“The moments that stick with me are the times outside of class that the faculty took the time to educate or provide guidance, direction or encouragement,” Parr-Holtvluwer said. “[Professor] Fabisch was my advisor, became a friend, and she clearly cares about more than just her students' education. She cares about their lives, their decisions, their struggles and their growth. It seemed that she spent just as much time out of the classroom nurturing students as she spent in the classroom teaching.”
In her accounting classes, Parr-Holtvluwer said Professor Bill Riter would answer her questions before and after classes, when she sometimes struggled with the material.
“[Professor] Cole once learned that the window was stuck in my old beater car,” Parr-Holtvluwer said. “It was the middle of the winter and my window wouldn't roll up. So, he traded cars with me for a day and fixed my window himself.”
“I learned so much in my four years at Cornerstone, but these actions, going above and beyond what a college professor is expected to do, make me realize how fortunate I was to have attended this particular school,” rejoiced Parr-Holtvluwer.