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Helping Troubled Kids

Less than a year after graduating, Seth Gustafson ’14 was invited back to Grinnell’s campus to share his experiences with Professor Emeritus Doug Caulkins’ Creative Careers class. Gustafson was one of two 2014 graduates brought back to share their experiences and advice on finding a first job after college.

Gustafson works at The Pavilion Behavioral Health System, a mental health hospital in central Illinois, and does research in cognitive psychology at the Beckman Institute for Science and Technology at the University of Illinois.

Work and research

Gustafson provides therapeutic services to adolescents and adults through individual and group therapy sessions and acts as a first respondent to crises at the hospital. “At Grinnell you don’t just memorize the textbook and spit that information back,” he says. “I use my writing and critical thinking skills every day in my job.”

A regular part of his job is therapeutic crisis intervention in response to the sometimes violent outbursts of the residents. “They’re behaviorally challenged kids with mental illnesses in a residential program,” he says. “A lot of times, they gang up on either the staff or other kids. You need to think on your feet to do the best thing in a given situation.”

Gustafson learned a lot from running his first group therapy session. “You have to build rapport, and if they don’t respect you, they won’t listen,” he says. At the same time, he says, you have to establish boundaries.

In addition to his work at The Pavilion, Gustafson also does research at the University of Illinois. He has been involved in two projects there, both using virtual reality. The first studied the effect of urban versus rural settings on creativity. The second was to examine perception and reaction times of older adults crossing the street.


In his courses, Caulkins discusses both entrepreneurship and intrepreneurship, the latter of which Gustafson has embraced. Intrapreneurship involves following the principles of entrepreneurship within a larger corporation. To that end, Gustafson is currently working to bring used exercise equipment to The Pavilion. “They had a workout area at Rosecrance where I interned,” he says, “and I wanted to see if I could bring that to The Pavilion.” Initially, he started bringing some of his own equipment to see whether anyone would seize on the opportunity. Now he is developing a partnership with a Division I football program to bring used equipment to The Pavilion.

Getting the most out of Grinnell

Gustafson spoke about the importance of taking advantage of internship opportunities and Mentored Advanced Projects (MAPs). “It’s important to build experience before you get out,” he says. Gustafson attributes both his MAP and a summer internship with helping him secure his job after graduation. He took an unpaid internship at Rosecrance, a mental health/substance abuse counseling agency in Rockford, Ill., during the summer of his third year. Thanks to funding from the College, Gustafson was able to complete the internship without having to dig into his own pockets.

In addition to MAPs and internships, Gustafson encouraged current students to make use of the resources available to them on campus — specifically the Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS) and the Writing Lab. “The CLS would help me with my resume and cover letter. Then I’d go to writing lab and they’d help adjust the language,” he says. “That’s what got me my interviews.”


Lunar New Year

The annual lunar new year celebration took place in Harris Concert Hall at Grinnell College on February 21, 2015, Saturday, from 5:30-8 p.m. Over 300 students, faculty, staff, and family members attended. They enjoyed a Chinese buffet dinner catered by China Sea, watched a variety show performance by students, and had a great time generally.

Kudos to the student groups who organized this event, including Chinese Students' Association (CSA), Asian and Asian American Students' Association (AAA), the Vietnamese Students' Organization, and the Student Education Policy Committee (SEPC) of the Department of Chinese and Japanese.

We also thank SGA, Michael Sims (Director of Campus Center Operations), and the department of Chinese and Japanese for funding this event.

So You Want to Become a Doctor?

Grinnell College is a perfect springboard for students who plan to become future physicians, veterinarians, and other health professionals.

Grinnell students receive expert guidance from faculty and staff and rigorous courses that help them enter the nation’s top medical and graduate school programs. Factor in Grinnell’s liberal arts focus and diverse research and learning experiences here and abroad — Grinnell students are well prepared to enter the competitive programs of their choice.

“Sometimes prospective students and their families think that there is some great advantage to going to a big university where there’s a medical school, but there’s really no demonstrated evidence that’s the case,” says Dack Professor of Chemistry Jim Swartz.

Ninety percent of Grinnell graduates who applied to M.D. and D.O. programs with a grade-point-average of 3.6 or higher are accepted into medical programs within five years of graduation, according to data from 2002-2014.

Queenster Nartey ’16 is a biological chemistry major. Last summer she helped with the development and design of the user interface for an app that will allow Type 2 diabetics to learn how certain changes to their diet or exercise could affect their blood glucose levels. She enjoyed studying in Denmark where she worked with doctors who introduced her to hands on exercises like suturing, inserting and IV, and other techniques. She has also enjoyed working with a professor on a Mentored Advanced Project about the effects of copper alloy surfaces in minimizing the growth of bacteria in hospital settings.

“I have truly fallen in love with research and hope to pursue it with a combined M.D./Ph.D. program after graduation,” she says.

Grinnell faculty and staff begin working with students as soon as they show an interest in a health profession to help them get the most out of their four years at Grinnell.

  • Students receive an introduction to the Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC), which assists students who are considering a health career and need an advanced degree.
  • Faculty help students plan which courses to take.
  • Students interact with the Center for Careers, Life, and Service, which offers preprofessional advising, job shadowing, internships, graduate school guides, dedicated computers that contain medical school requirements, and career preparation books.

A peer student network, Students on Health Oriented Tracks (SHOT) works with students and collaborates with the HPAC.

  • SHOT leaders strive to know the program entry requirements to medical, dental, and pharmacology schools. They explain to students how to get recommendations and how best to navigate the process.
  • SHOT regularly brings experts to campus such as veterinarians, midwifes, and others.

So You Want to Become a Doctor, Veterinarian, Physician Assistant or …

There’s an abundance of graduate programs in a variety of areas beyond just medical school. Selective programs look favorably upon students who take rigorous courses, study abroad, and have a liberal arts background, says Shannon Hinsa Leasure, associate professor of biology.

Medical schools and graduate level programs want well rounded students who engage in diverse learning experiences here and abroad, Hinsa Leasure says.

  • Students can apply to Off Campus Study programs to gain field experience and work with health professionals in Denmark, Costa Rica, and beyond.
  • Grinnell College students can participate in the Master of Public Health Cooperative Degree program while at Grinnell. The cost of the program completed while at Grinnell is covered under tuition. For the remaining year, students will pay tuition at the University of Iowa.
  • Students can become certified nursing assistants and work in local facilities in Grinnell to obtain the number of patient contact hours they need for some health graduate programs.
  • Research opportunities abound in campus laboratories.
  • Alumni generously offer their time to advise students about program requirements and provide them with real-world information.

“It’s important to be open-minded when thinking of health professions — students likely have not been exposed to all of the options available and it is important to find the right fit for each student,” says Hinsa Leasure. “The experiences you have in your classes here and doing research may change your mind about your future career. We try to prepare students for things that they do not anticipate upon arriving at Grinnell, but get interested in along the way.”

Artemis Gogos ’14 is pursuing an M.D/Ph.D. in a medical scientist training program at the University of Illinois-Chicago. She says laboratory experience at Grinnell solidified her plan to pursue a career in research, and participating in an off campus study program in Costa Rica convinced her also to pursue a medical degree.

Prospective students who are considering a career in the health professions should focus on getting a wide variety of experiences during their four years at Grinnell, Gogos says.

“Accept all opportunities that come your way. Every decision you make will shape your perspective in a new way, and you will start to see a multitude of possibilities in the field of health care,” she says.

Artemis Gogos ’14, Lincoln, Neb.
Queenster Nartey ’16, Chicago, Ill.

“La Donna del Lago” Live in HD

The Metropolitan Opera’ first production of Gioacchino Rossini's "La Donna del Lago" will be streamed live in high-definition at noon Saturday, March 14, in Harris Center Cinema.

Opera superstars Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez will display their vocal fireworks in this Rossini showcase of vocal virtuosity. DiDonato stars as the “Lady of the lake,” and Flórez plays the King of Scotland who relentlessly pursues her. This Met premiere production, set in the medieval Scottish highlands, is conducted by Michele Mariotti.

This production has wowed critics and lead to rave reviews, including this excerpt from the New York Times review:  “The wondrous Ms. DiDonato and Mr. Mariotti, the fast-rising young Italian conductor, seemed almost in competition to see who could make music with more delicacy. Ms. DiDonato sang Rossini’s beguiling phrases with soft yet penetrating richness, subtly folding ornaments and runs into the long melodic arcs. . . . Mr. Flórez makes a youthful, charming and impassioned king. Vocally he was at his best... He tossed off runs and roulades effortlessly and dispatched exciting high notes.”

There will be no pre-opera talk for this production, but refreshments will be available for sale in the lobby of the cinema before the opera.


Tickets are available at the Pioneer Bookshop, the Grinnell College Bookstore, and at the door on the day of the show.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, children, and Met Opera members.

Tickets for Grinnell College faculty, staff, and students have been generously funded by the Office of the President and are available at no cost at all ticket locations. Family members not employed by the College are required to purchase tickets.

Ask to join the Public Events listserv if you’d like to get reminders about performances and ticket distribution.

Grinnell Singers Spring Tour

The Grinnell Singers, the premier choir of Grinnell College in Iowa, will perform in six Midwest cities during a spring concert tour that runs from March 14-20. All of the concerts are open to the public.

Each concert will include a repertoire of music spanning five centuries, with works by Rachmaninoff, Whitacre, Handel, and Lassus.

The Grinnell Singers also will perform Thomas Tallis’ 40-part Renaissance motet “Spem in Alium,” a masterful work in which each singer has a unique part. The grandeur of this work, and the vast musical landscape it evokes, has stood as an unrivaled artistic monument — a cathedral in sound — for more than four centuries.

Under the direction of John Rommereim, Blanche Johnson Professor of Music, the Singers have toured to Finland, Estonia, Russia, and Turkey. The choir has produced two recordings, including a CD of Rachmaninoff's “All-Night Vigil,” which was praised for its “consummate artistry” by Iowa Public Radio.

The concerts will take place:

7:30 p.m Saturday, March 14
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 2730 E. 31st St., Minneapolis, Minn.
Free will offering collected at the door.
7:30 p.m. Monday, March 16
First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Ave., Madison, Wis.
$15 for adults. $10 for students and seniors. Children are free. Tickets may be purchased at the door or online.
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 17
St. John Cantius Church, 825 N. Carpenter St., Chicago, Ill.
Free and open to the public.
UPDATE: Listen to a recording the Chicago concert performance of "Idumea." Austin Morris, tenor solo, Sasha Middeldorp, soprano saxophone.
7 p.m. Wednesday, March 18
St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 808 N. Mason Road, Creve Coeur, Mo.
Free and open to the public.
7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 19
Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, 1301 Boston Ave., Tulsa, Okla.
Free and open to the public.
7:30 p.m. Friday, March 20
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 127 Seventh St., Oklahoma City, Okla.
Free and open to the public.

Writers@Grinnell: Brian Turner

Brian TurnerWriters@Grinnell brings poet and memoirist Brian Turner to campus for two free public events on Thursday, March 12 in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center.

Roundtable: 4:15 p.m. Thursday, March 12, in Rosenfield Center, Room 209.

Reading: 8 p.m. Thursday, March 12, in Rosenfield Center, Room 101.

Brian Turner served seven years in the US Army. He is the author of two poetry collections, Phantom Noise and Here, Bullet, which won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award, the New York Times “Editor’s Choice” selection, the 2006 PEN Center USA “Best in the West” award, the 2007 Poets Prize, and others.

Turner’s work has been published in National Geographic, The New York Times, Poetry Daily, Harper’s Magazine, and other fine journals. Turner has been awarded a United States Artists Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, and more. His recent memoir, My Life as a Foreign Country, has been called, “achingly, disturbingly, shockingly beautiful.”

Poster image: planes on bombing raidTurner's visit is organized by Writers@Grinnell.

It is co-sponsored by Peace and Conflict Studies and by Center for the Humanities as part of their year-long "Century of War” theme.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center rooms 101 and 209 are looped to supports telecoils. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations.

Monarch Butterfly Conservation

Orley R. “Chip” Taylor is founder and director of Monarch Watch, and is also a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.  Trained as an insect ecologist, he has published papers on species assemblages, hybridization, reproductive biology, population dynamics and plant demographics and pollination. In 1992 Taylor founded Monarch Watch, an outreach program focused on education, research and conservation related to monarch butterflies and based at the University of Kansas.  Since then, Monarch Watch has investigated and documented the sharp decline in the monarch population, enlisted the help of volunteers to tag monarchs during the fall migration, and created a network of monarch way stations and other feeding and breeding spots along migration routes. Through Monarch Watch's "Bring the Monarch Back" initiative, over 160,000 schools, parks and home gardens have received milkweed plugs to create vital breeding sites and fuel sources for butterflies on their annual migratory routes. In 2014, Taylor received the Growing Green Award from the Natural Resources Defense Council for his monarch recovery efforts.

In his lecture “Monarch Butterfly Recovery Plan,” Chip Taylor will describe his vision for comprehensive habitat development for the monarch butterfly, including large scale efforts to maintain the “milkweed-monarch corridor” on public and private lands through the upper Midwest. Taylor will highlight the distinct need for Iowans to take part in monarch butterfly habitat development programs, through creating way-stations in our schoolyards and backyards, developing pollinator-friendly practices on our farms, and volunteering with local and regional conservation groups who take part in monarch education

Taylor’s visit is sponsored in part by the Center for Prairie Studies.

Tweak, Adapt, Transform

Lisa Schulte Moore will discuss the results of her social-ecological research on innovative land management practices in “Tweak, Adapt, Transform: Building a Resilient Future for Agriculture in Iowa and Beyond.” The free public lecture will begin at 7 p.m., Monday, March 9, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Conservation of ecosystem services in agricultural regions worldwide is fundamental to — but often perceived to be in competition with — food and energy production and thriving rural communities.

Perhaps nowhere is this clearer than in Iowa, where topsoil, water quality, flood control, and native biodiversity are sacrificed for agricultural productivity.

Schulte Moore’s discussion will include the strategic integration of perennial vegetation over landscapes and watersheds, the Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips (STRIPS) project, and its potential to foster a balance between growing ecosystem services and commodity crops in the Corn-Belt.

Schulte Moore, an associate professor of natural resource ecology and management at Iowa State University, studies the causes, consequences, and design of land-use change. Because humans are a major driver of change, she uses “coupled human and natural systems” as a lens to understand and anticipate change. Learn more about her expertise and projects at her Landscape Ecology and Sustainable Ecosystem Management Lab.

Schulte Moore's visit is sponsored by the Center for Prairie Studies.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations.

Business Pursuits

Psychology major Fanchao (Frank) Zhu ’15 never expected to receive intensive business preparation as a liberal arts student. A scholarship through the College’s Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS) has changed his perspective.

The psychology major from Nanjing, China attended the prestigious Stanford University Summer Institute in General Management that he describes as “a mini-MBA.”

“The program gave me a taste of everything in business,” says Zhu, who works in his family’s small chain of restaurants. “Now I know what I am really passionate about in business — entrepreneurship and marketing.”

Liberal arts and business can combine into a powerful mix. Just peek into the college backgrounds of CEOs at some of the nation’s most well known companies. Hiring professionals also prize liberal arts students who can think creatively and critically.

Business Binge

The summer business programs inspire students and complement Grinnell.

“When coupled with their academic and co-curricular experiences at Grinnell, these summer programs expand and refine the participants’ soft and hard skills as they prepare for their post-graduate careers in business and other sectors of the economy,” says Mark Peltz, Daniel ’77 and Patricia Jipp Finkelman ’80 Dean in the Center for Careers, Life, and Service.

Frank Zhu and Thatcher HealyLast summer, Zhu and Thatcher Healy ’16 (pictured) attended the Stanford Institute and Chi Nguyen ’15 and Joseph Wlos ’16 attended the University of Chicago’s Booth Summer Business Scholars Program.

Students studied finance, corporate operations, marketing, accounting, and human resources. They also interacted with professors, other students, and local business professionals. Students visited companies such as Intel, which was co-founded by Robert N. Noyce ’49.

Value of Studying Business

Healy, a biological chemistry major from Mill Valley, Calif., wanted to learn more about the business side of biotech.

“The Stanford program helped me understand how I could apply what I’ve been learning in Grinnell to a job in the future,” Healy says. “I feel equipped to market myself to a business or start my own business if I wanted to.”

All students can benefit from having a business background, Healy says.

“It is pertinent to most all fields of study,” he says. “Especially for those seniors who are lost on what to do after undergrad or how to apply their expertise into a lucrative career.”

The program has excited Nguyen about the possibility of earning an MBA after graduation. She especially liked working with a diverse mix of students from around the world.

“Academically, the concepts that I learn will help me with my senior seminar in macro finance,” she says. “Activities from the program also inspired me to start some similar workshops about business and professional skills in Grinnell.”

Opportunities for Summer 2015

Next summer 2015, CLS will offer two scholarships to Chicago’s Booth Program, which Peltz said fits well with Grinnell’s priorities. Scholarships include tuition, housing, most meals, and a travel stipend.

Fanchao (Frank) Zhu ’15 is a psychology major from Nanjing, China. Thatcher Healy ’16 is a biological chemistry major from Mill Valley, Calif. Chi Nguyen ’15 is a French and economics double major from Ha Noi, Vietnam. Joseph Wlos ’16 is a political science major from Crete, Ill.