Developing a voice at Grinnell
Last summer after her first year at Grinnell, Kelsey Roebuck interned at the Midwest Writing Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping new writers, in her hometown of Davenport. “I received a crash course there in publishing, creative writing, freelancing, editing, and finding agents,” she says. Since then, Kelsey, a French and English major, has become editor of Reflections, a Grinnell magazine geared to prospective students and written by current students. She also serves as a copy editor for Scarlet and Black, the campus newsletter.
And she sings. “One of my favorite Grinnell moments so far is when a friend convinced me last year to go to a rehearsal of the Young, Gifted, and Black (YGB) Gospel Choir. I had a blast. It was such a different cultural experience. I was completely welcomed by a group of spiritual people who supported each other regardless of race or socioeconomic backgrounds. It’s such a good example of how easy it is to fit in at Grinnell.”
Six black first-year students formed YGB in 1967 in the basement of Younker Hall, borrowing the name of the group from a play by Lorraine Hansberry. The group is now open to anyone in the Grinnell community; and students, faculty, staff, and townspeople of many generations are now enthusiastic participants.
As Kelsey relates the history of the group, she shows her pride in the student initiative-oriented ethos of Grinnell. “When I visited campus as a sophomore in high school, I noticed that there was so much involvement on the students’ parts in constructing the ideal campus. With every other school I visited, the message was a top-down, ‘This is what your college experience will be like.’ But Grinnell makes it your experience.”