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Gold Standard for Internships

There is no doubt that résumés showing experiences at top companies attract attention during the hiring process. So how do you get that experience? By landing a quality summer internship.

For Grinnell students, summer internships at TIAA-CREF Financial Services are the gold standard. Interns get to work with high-level staff on challenging projects — for an organization whose values Grinnellians believe in.

Several Grinnell students are accepted at TIAA-CREF each year, and more than 40 Grinnellians have held summer internships there in the past 15 years.

Natalie Duncombe ’15 was a Grinnellink intern at TIAA-CREF in 2013. She says building a mentor relationship with Michael Kahn ’74 was the most valuable aspect of her internship. Kahn is senior managing director of corporate strategy and development at TIAA-CREF in New York City.

“His advice throughout the summer helped me get the most out of my time at TIAA-CREF, and he continued to help me with recommendation letters, as well as career, résumé, and interview advice,” Duncombe says. “Without him and my time at TIAA-CREF, I don't know if I would have been as successful in securing my economic research assistant position at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C.”

“TIAA-CREF is a particularly great environment for Grinnell students,” says Kahn. “We’re a mission-driven organization. We exist to serve those who serve the greater good, which aligns well with how Grinnellians think about what their role in the world will be.”

Kahn sponsors, mentors, and works closely with the majority of Grinnell interns, whether their student experiences are physically located in midtown Manhattan or at another major TIAA-CREF campus, such as Charlotte, N.C.

David Jutrsa ’15 was also a Grinnellink summer intern at TIAA-CRFE in 2013. “David worked on a potential major acquisition,” Kahn says. “It was a really big deal, and it was complicated. As an intern you’d think you would never get near something that interesting, but he got to work with the core team and was in meetings with our most senior staff.”

Jutrsa, who recently accepted a research assistant position with the International Monetary Fund, says, “The TIAA-CREF internship exposed me to the world of business, and really solidified my interest in finance. I would definitely recommend any Grinnellink internship with TIAA-CREF to students looking to break into these fields and connect what they learn in classes to the professional world.” 

The Grinnellink internship program, which builds on connections with Grinnell alumni and friends, is run by the Center for Careers, Life, and Service. CLS plays an integral part in matching students with summer internship opportunities.

Natalie Duncombe ’15 and David Jutrsa ’15 both majored in economics.

Decoding Diversity

Lester Alemán ’07 became an advocate and a leader while a Posse Scholar at Grinnell College. He also worked as a program director for nearly four years at the Posse Foundation in Los Angeles. So it’s only fitting he had a chance showcase those skills while discussing the often controversial topic of diversity at the first-ever TEDxGrinnell event.

We talked with Lester about his TEDxGrinnell experience and time as a Grinnell student.  

What was it like giving a TEDxGrinnell talk?

Lester Alemen, left, talks to TEDx attendeesDelivering a TED Talk is, by far, one of the most challenging things I’ve done in my career. I’m honored that Grinnell College thought of me as someone who is a subject-matter expert in the field of diversity initiatives. My speech delivered a dose of obvious. But what’s more striking to me is that no matter how obvious diversity is in this country, we — as a nation— still resist it. I wrote my talk not only for the sociology majors of the country, but for people who need a reminder of what truly shapes this nation, and how we continuously perpetuate our lack of acceptance. “It’s not okay” somehow became my tag line. So when I think of how many people kept repeating that after my talk, I think I drove a message home. Now the work rests in the hands of those who listened.

Thinking back as a student, what is the most striking way you were affected by the culture shift from your home in Los Angeles to Grinnell?

Attending Grinnell College allowed me to understand the fabric of our social landscape. It also taught me to be very vocal and persuasive in the pursuit of social change. Going from an urban environment to a rural setting taught me to be adaptable. Those four years really shaped my vision for how I live my professional life.

What’s the most important piece of advice you would share with prospective Grinnellians?

The biggest piece of advice I can offer any prospective student is that Grinnell College is not the college for just anyone. Grinnell not only offers the unique opportunity to learn about the unique world we are all a part of, it offers the opportunity for you to truly become an agent of change. If change isn’t what you were made to do — then this isn’t the school for you. If change is what you live for, then welcome.

What’s the most important way Grinnell College assisted you in becoming the leader you are today?

There were caring adults who wanted nothing more than to see me thrive — and knew exactly how to help facilitate that growth. That was new for me. They taught me the most important thing a leader needs in this world: true and active compassion. 

  • Taking a course with Kesho Scott, associate professor of sociology and American studies, is a must for anyone that appreciates witty, insightful banter — the kind that gives you an eye-opening dose of what we are doing to each other in this world.
  • Karla Erickson, associate professor of sociology, taught me that only I could dictate my path and pushed me to make tough decisions as my major adviser.
  • Kara Lycke was a soundboard for the frustration I felt the more I learned about the injustices in our education system.
  • Judy Hunter had the patience to really teach me how to put my feelings and thoughts into words at the Writing Lab.
  • Katherine McClelland helped me overcome my fear of math so I could pass my statistics class.
  • The late Howard Burkle indulged all my life questions — and my appetite, I should add — as my Posse Mentor.
  • Charlie Duke gave my Posse a home away from home when Howard could no longer do that.

Alemán currently works at NBCUniversal in the Page Program, Talent Development Group.

Unveiled and Queering the Fortress Europe

Katrin Sieg, professor of German and European Studies at Georgetown University, will screen Fremde Haut (Unveiled) at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 4, in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Room 152. She will hold a question and answer session after the screening.

At noon Tuesday, May 5, she will presents "Queering the Fortress Europe," in Burling Library Lounge. In the talk, Sieg will place the film in the larger context of asylum law and policy in Europe.

Fremde Haut tells the tale of a lesbian fleeing persecution in Iran. When she escapes to Germany she passes as a man to gain refugee status, and then falls in love with a German woman.

European asylum law and policy is increasingly coming under attack for its inability to protect those fleeing persecution, either for political reasons or for belonging to particular ethnic, racial or social group, including gay, lesbian, and transgendered people.

Sieg asks, "How has queer European cinema and visual culture of the past decade helped to conceptualize the enactment of queer desires and identities as a human right?  The enshrining of gay rights in EU law, and the celebration of queer icons at such popular events as the annual Eurovision Song Contest seemingly signal the unequivocal victory of gay rights as human rights.  What perverse impulse, then, drives some European filmmakers to call the discourse of a cosmopolitan, ethnically diverse and sexually tolerant Europe into question?"

Sieg’s visit is sponsored by Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies, the departments of History, Art and Art History, and the Cultural Films Committee.

All are welcome. Refreshments and a small snack will be provided.

2015 Mini-Grant Awards

Teacher's aide holding book open and reading to two young children.Teacher's aide Monica Bender reads to children at Grinnell Community Daycare and Preschool, which will receive funds to purchase new books for classrooms.

A dozen local projects and initiatives will benefit from $31,223 in grant support this year from the Grinnell College Mini-Grant Program.

The program is just one of the ways that Community Enhancement and Engagement office strengthens community resources and educational opportunities, as well as enhances the safety, beauty, and economic vitality of Grinnell. The office also fosters community partnerships, and supports student and employee engagement in off-campus activities. The mini-grants have played an especially important role.

"We are very pleased to support a variety of community betterment initiatives through Grinnell College’s Community Mini-Grant Program," said Melissa Strovers, program and communications manager for community enhancement and engagement at Grinnell. "As demonstrated by the strong project proposals we received this year, we are extremely fortunate to live, work, and play in a place where people are genuinely committed to improving the quality of life of our local community."

The following initiatives received mini-grant funding for 2015:

  • Grinnell Area Arts Council, for technology infrastructure upgrades ($3,500)
  • Grinnell Community Daycare and Preschool, for diversity books and materials for classrooms ($1,000)
  • Drake Community Library, for the digital preservation of slides and outdated media formats from the library archives ($3,045)
  • Grinnell Fire Department, for technology upgrades ($3,350)
  • Grinnell Historical Museum, for the safety improvements at the museum ($2,953)
  • Grinnell Little League, for new player equipment ($2,500)
  • Grinnell-Newburg Community School District, for the Grinnell Outdoor Adventure Program ($2,500)
  • Grinnell-Newburg Community School District, for the Grinnell High School Library Makerspace ($2,000)
  • Grinnell Regional Medical Center, for the Giving Gardens Project ($2,000)
  • Grinnell UCC Community Preschool, for the Preschool Tiger Pack Program ($5,000)
  • Imagine Grinnell, for bike racks for Summer Street Park, the Community Garden, and Downtown Grinnell ($2,500)
  • Poweshiek Animal League Shelter (PALS) for donation boxes and pet beds ($875)

For more information about the mini-grant program, contact Strovers, 641-269-3900. Learn more about the College’s community contributions.

Shacks and Shanties/Medium Cool

Artist Faheem Majeed will present on the Shacks and Shanties project at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Faulconer Gallery. The project was a multifaceted South Side Chicago installation initiative that served as a collaborative 
platform for artist interventions, and a space for civically engaged community members and organizations.

Majeed will also screen the film "Medium Cool" by Haskell Wexler at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 29 in Alumni Recitation Hall, Room 302. In his 1969 review, Roger Ebert wrote "In Medium Cool, Wexler forges back and forth through several levels...There are fictional characters in real situations...there are real characters in fictional situations." The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry for its significance. Faheem will talk about the film, which he cites as one of his inspirations as a creative artist.

Majeed, a full-time practicing artist, tackles questions about civic-mindedness, community activism, and institutional racism through environment and art. He was the inaugural artist in residence for University of Chicago’s Arts in Public Life Initiative, and has taught classes in socially engaged art practices. He has also been active in arts administration, curation, and community facilitation.

These events are sponsored by The Cultural Films Committee, Faulconer Gallery, and the Department of Art and Art History

Redefining Possible

Spencer West, an inspirational speaker, author, and humanitarian from Toronto, Canada, will give a free, public talk at noon Monday, May 4, in Sebring-Lewis Hall in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

Born with a rare genetic disorder, West had his legs amputated when he was 5 years old. Overcoming challenge after challenge, West learned to not only navigate a world that is set against those with disabilities but to become an agent of change in that world.

His many accomplishments, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on his hands and in his wheelchair and raising more than $500,000 dollars for Free the Children clean water projects in Kenya, have made him a role model for individuals striving to negotiate obstacles in their lives. West's words have encouraged millions to stand up to difficult times, face challenges and embrace change.

West has received extensive national media coverage. He has been featured on ABC News, CNN and CBS' "60 Minutes," to name a few. He also is highly active in charity work, having raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for prominent charities including Free The Children.

West's appearance is made possible by Peace and Conflict Studies.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Bucksbaum Center for the Arts has accessible parking in the lot behind the building, north of Sixth Avenue. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

Disability Culture Pedagogy and Social Justice

Petra KuppersDisability culture activist Petra Kuppers will deliver a free public lecture, “Disability Culture Pedagogy and Social Justice,” at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Petra Kuppers is a disability culture activist, a community performance artist, and a professor at the University of Michigan. She leads The Olimpias, a performance research collective. The Olimpias projects are community-based, collaborative, and deal with disability culture issues

Kuppers’ Disability Culture and Community Performance: Find a Strange and Twisted Shape explores The Olimpias’ arts-based research methods, and won the Sally Banes Award of the American Society for Theatre Research. Kuppers has authored a new textbook, Studying Disability Arts and Culture: An Introduction.

The Department of Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies; Center for the Humanities; and Department of Sociology are sponsoring her visit.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. ARH is wheelchair accessible. Automatic door operators are located on the southeast and southwest sides. Accessible parking is available along Park Street. You can request accommodations from Conference Operations.

The Hunting Ground

"The Hunting Ground," a new documentary film about the national problem of sexual assaults on college campuses, will be shown at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 16, in Alumni Recitation Hall (ARH), room 302.

The showing of the 90-minute documentary, which highlights the first-person testimonies of campus rape survivors, is free and open to the public. Grinnell Advocates will be on site to provide support throughout the showing of the film, billed as "a startling exposé of sexual assault on U.S. campuses."

Immediately following the showing, a panel discussion will be held that features panelists from various organizations and backgrounds.

The panelists will be:

  • Jennifer Carlson, executive director, University of Iowa Rape Victim Advocacy Program
  • Tess Cody, campus outreach coordinator, Crisis Prevention Services
  • Jaime Nevins, community transgender activist, Iowa City
  • Simona Sharoni, associate professor of women's studies, State University of New York, Plattsburgh (via Skype)
  • Michael Shaw, vice-chair, Iowa Men's Action Network; and national board member, National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence
  • Rachel Williams, associate professor of gender, women's and sexuality studies, and of art and art history, University of Iowa

Cosponsors of the showing and panel discussion are the Office of the President and the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights; as well as Faculty Against Rape and Dissenting Voices.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. ARH is wheelchair accessible and has an elevator at the south end of the building that makes it easy to reach the auditorium and accessible restrooms on the third floor. Outside entrances with automatic door operators are located on the southeast and southwest sides of ARH. Several accessible parking spaces are available along Park Street. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

Rosenfield Program Seeking Applications for Student Members

Now is the time to apply for student membership on the Rosenfield Program Committee for 2015-16. All current 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year students who have an interest in public affairs, international relations, and human rights are urged to apply. The committee consists of faculty and students. The Rosenfield Program holds two or three major symposia each year, sponsors speakers, and funds summer internships. Membership requires a substantial time commitment in planning programs and hosting visitors.
To apply, please submit a 500-600 word statement to Laureen VanWyk by noon on Friday, April 10.  This statement should include:

  • Your interest in public affairs, international relations, and human rights
  • Your comments on Rosenfield Program events you have attended
  • Ideas for events you would like to attend in the future
  • Your major (if declared)
  • Class year
  • Activities which relate to the purposes of the Rosenfield Program

If you have any questions about being a student member on the Rosenfield Program Committee, please contact the interim director, Ed Cohn at (515) 269-3107.  Or talk to a student committee member – Nipun Basrur ’15, Keaton Cameron-Burr ’15, Roni Finkelstein ’15, Andres Cambronero ’15, David Leitson ’16, Danielle Chorne ’16, Strahinja Matejic ’17, Adriana Zenteno Hopp ’17, or Anesu Gamanya ’17.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration

In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Patricia Williams of Columbia Law School and Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic will come to Grinnell College for events on Jan. 19-20. All events are free and open to the public, and will take place in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

Patricia WilliamsOn Monday, Jan. 19, Williams, James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University and recipient of a 2000 MacArthur "genius grant," will give a "teach-in" on "Hoping Against Hopelessness: An Anatomy of Short Lives." The teach-in, an interactive mix of lecture and discussion, will start at 10:30 a.m. and resume at 1:30 p.m. after a break for lunch.

Ta-Nehisi CoatesOn Tuesday, Jan. 20 at 6 p.m., Coates, national correspondent for The Atlantic, will give a lecture titled "The Case for Reparations." Coates's June 2014 cover story of the same name, which focuses on race relations in America, set a record for number of downloads in a single day from The Atlantic's website.

"Fostering respectful interactions in a diverse community is a critical part of Grinnell's mission," says Poonam Arora, chief diversity officer and associate dean of Grinnell College. "It is an honor to welcome Mr. Coates and Professor Williams to Grinnell, and I look forward to hearing their words as we come together to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day."

Sponsors include the Office of Diversity and Inclusion; the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights; the Office of the President; the Peace and Conflict Studies Program; the Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice; the Student Government Association; the Office of the Dean; and the Center for the Humanities.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. The Joe Rosenfield '25 Center is located on Eighth Avenue, with accessible parking on the east side of the building. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations at 641-269-3235 or calendar[at]grinnell[dot]edu.