Describe your college search.
I came from a school that was heavily understaffed (class sizes of 40+ students) so I was lucky enough to realize fairly early on that I wanted to go to a smaller school. I looked mostly at liberal arts schools in the Midwest and toured many of them. When I toured at Grinnell I really liked the atmosphere and how everyone seemed to be the perfect balance of relaxed and driven. After doing an overnight visit and sitting in on some classes, I was pretty sure I knew where I wanted to go.
What advice would you give to prospective students?
I think it is really easy to have a bunch of schools start to blend together, especially when students are visiting more than just a couple schools. I found it really helpful to hone in on just a few aspects. For me that was finding a school that had cool places to study, people I wanted to get to know better, and a swim team that wouldn't dominate my life.
Have you completed an internship, MAP, or study abroad?
The summer after my second year I got an internship at Chimp Haven in Shreveport, Louisiana. Chimp Haven is essentially a retirement home for chimpanzees used in biomedical research, and with the help of a grant from the Environmental Studies committee at Grinnell I was able to assist with animal care for 10 weeks.
This past summer I was lucky enough to get a MAP with Prof. Hinsa-Leasure of the biology department identifying genes responsible for biofilm attachment in Psychrobacter arcticus. Throughout the summer I have been consistently amazed by how much freedom I have been given on my project, which has helped spark a greater interest in research. I had never considered going into research prior to coming to Grinnell, but now I find myself in love with it. Go figure.
What has been your favorite class?
In all honesty, it is hard to choose a single favorite class, but the one that jumps out at me would have to be An Environmental History of Food with Prof. Campbell. The readings were easily the most interesting I have ever had in a class, and the professor was easily the most eccentric (in a good way). I remember one day where Prof. Campbell brought in durian (a fruit that is supposed to smell like rotting carcasses) to share with the class. He was having trouble cutting it open with the knife he brought, so instead he whipped out a machete and started hacking the fruit into tiny bits. He then calmly started handing out pieces to everyone.
What is your favorite aspect of Grinnell?
As always it is hard to narrow my favorite aspects down to just one thing, but if I have to choose I guess I'll go with how down to earth the professors are. When I first came to Grinnell I was amazed at how within a week and a half all of my professors knew my name, and now that I have been here awhile I am still constantly amazed by how easy all of the professors are to talk to. One of the great aspects of a small college is that the professors are highly accessible, but I think professors at Grinnell truly take this to heart and go out of their way to help students.
Did you have any reservations about going to college in Iowa?
Coming from Minnesota, a state where making fun of Iowa comes second only to making fun of Wisconsin, I certainly had my reservations. My main reservation was that Grinnell was a small town, which was very different to what I was used to after living in Minneapolis my entire life. In the end I realized that I had lived in a city my whole life, so putting four years aside to go to a great school in a small town ended up not seeming that bad. Now that I've been here for three years, I am really glad I decided to come to Grinnell. I have fallen in love with the town, and honestly can't imagine spending my undergraduate years anywhere else.