The Armando Alters Montaño ’12 Writers@Grinnell Endowment Fund has been established by the parents of the Grinnell graduate who died in June 2012 while working as an intern with the Associated Press in Mexico City.
Diane Alters ’71 and Mario Montaño have created the fund through a bequest to Grinnell College. The fund will support the Writers@Grinnell program in memory of their son’s dedication to nonfiction and fiction writing, journalism, and the creative process.
“Diane and Mario’s generous gift honors and recognizes Armando’s creative talents, his courage, and his dedication to his craft,” says College President Raynard S. Kington. “Appropriately, it will help other Grinnell students connect their education to their real-life aspirations as effectively and enthusiastically as he did.”
The Armando Alters Montaño ’12 Writers@Grinnell Endowment Fund encourages other students to follow in Montaño’s footsteps as budding writers and journalists. It will support Grinnell students in the following ways:
- The Mando Montaño ’12 Memorial Reading will be presented by a leading nonfiction writer as an annual feature of Writers@Grinnell.
- The Mando Montaño ’12 Scarlet & Black Student Newspaper Memorial Fund will provide S&B students with opportunities for alumni mentoring and connections, enriching the learning and professional development of Grinnell’s student journalists.
- The fund will provide support for student internships in areas related to creative writing, publishing, television, film, and other media.
In establishing the fund and its purpose, Montaño’s parents wrote, “His passion, his ability to understand and learn, and his drive to write and report are what we celebrate with this fund.”
“Mando thrived at Grinnell,” Alters says. “He admired and befriended many professors who guided him to think critically, write, and make his way in the world with confidence and compassion. His many friends recalled his intensity, his physical beauty, his smile, his laughter, and his ability to listen carefully to those around him.”
Montaño graduated as a Spanish major with a concentration in Latin American studies. During his time at Grinnell, he wrote and edited for the Scarlet & Black, interned at several newspapers, and took part in The New York Times Student Journalism Institute. His essay about cooking with his father, titled “The Unexpected Lessons of Mexican Food,” was published on Salon.com and in The Norton Field Guide to Writing.
Montaño wrote the short story “Snow Angels” — about his struggles to understand grief and loss — in a fiction seminar taught by Dean Bakopoulos, English department writer-in-residence at Grinnell. Bakopoulos later provided the forward for the story and helped with publication.
“Mando possessed two distinctive gifts essential in the best writers and journalists: thoughtfulness and sensitivity, coupled with a dynamic personality that loved to make connections and ask big questions,” Bakopoulos says.
“How wonderfully fitting it is that a fund bearing his name will focus on connecting Grinnell’s aspiring writers with the literary professionals that will inspire, encourage, and mentor them in the very craft and trade Mando loved so much.”
Shane Jacobson, vice president for development and alumni relations, says, “Armando raised the bar for what students can achieve in an inquiry-led liberal arts environment where students learn to truly link their education with their life goals. We are fortunate to call Armando a Grinnellian, and we are grateful that this gift will help carry forward his love of teaching and learning.”
Montaño grew up in Colorado Springs, Colo. His father is associate professor of anthropology at Colorado College in Colorado Springs; Alters is a lecturer in journalism there.
If you are interested in engaging with the College by making a designated gift to Writers@Grinnell, please use the online form and specify Writers@Grinnell.