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Service Learning Success

At Grinnell, an array of class-related experiences outside of the main academic buildings gives students a chance to dig deeper into topics in real-world settings.

Take Asani Seawell’s Advanced Health Psychology course, for example. Seawell, an associate professor of psychology, used the class to offer students deeper knowledge while also helping their community. With the assistance of Susan Sanning, assistant director of service learning and engagement with the Center for Careers, Life, and Service, the students in Seawell’s course developed community interventions that aim to ease adolescent obesity.

The course combines Grinnell’s extensive commitment to community engagement and social responsibility.

Investigation and Introspection

The course focused on the creation of a number of community interventions. The students spent their time in and out of the classroom examining obesity issues. They observed and interviewed patients who were having bariatric surgeries at the Grinnell Regional Medical Center. Some students interviewed patients who were undergoing surgery long after their dramatic weight loss following bariatric surgery, such as a breast reconstruction and a skin removal procedure.

As a result of personal interactions and observations and examining the primary literature, Seawell’s students gained a much more nuanced view of obesity. “Now I question everything,” says Beth Gillig ’15. “I’m more of a critical thinker.”

The class also extended students’ knowledge of the community, thanks to Susan Sanning, who helped them find community partners. “One focus of the class was to highlight obesity in a different way,” says Emily Twedell ’15, “and it did.” “We also designed community interventions so that there’s no disconnect between the researchers and the community,” says Gillig.

Intervention Implementation

Asani Seawell and students

Last year, Ellie Garza ’14 developed an intervention in Seawell’s class that would help children ages 2 to 12 learn about nutrition and grocery stores. She and Sanning worked with Hy-Vee to establish the healthy kids kiosk. Garza considered the needs of the community and sustainability issues when planning this project. “I wanted this to be something community members could pick up on their own,” she says.

Between the class and the implementation of her proposal, Garza figured out her next steps after graduation. “This class and the project inspired me to apply for health psychology research positions,” says Garza, who will be working at a research lab at Northwestern University where she will be involved in implementing a behavioral intervention for individuals struggling with obesity. Being able to make her intervention happen outside of class was one of the opportunities that steered Garza in this direction.

This year’s proposed projects ranged from a partnership with 4-H to a cookbook, a series of community walks, and a program at a local youth center. When the students return to Grinnell in the fall, they will have the opportunity to meet with community organizations to repeat the success of the healthy kids kiosk with their own projects.

A Future in Fried Pies

By the time the first customers visit her farmers market stand in Knoxville, Tenn., Dale Mackey ’07 has been awake for hours, frying and packaging hundreds of her signature palm-size pies.

Fried pies are a well-known southern treat, but not one that Mackey, originally from Illinois, had ever made before moving to Tennessee via Kentucky following graduation. She began experimenting with them in her home as a novelty for visitors and dinner guests, using her family's traditional pie recipe.

“I simply started making them,” Mackey recalls. “I come from a whole family of bakers. We love food! And these are a food rooted to place — many people here have a nostalgic connection to fried pies.”

Over time, traditional favorites such as apple or cherry also made room for combinations such as bourbon pecan or chipotle mac and cheese.

With both a resurgence of interest in local food production and the growing popularity of mobile food trucks, it wasn’t long before Mackey’s knack for pie-making transitioned into the kernel of a small business idea.

Dale Mackey in her Dale's Fried Pies stand “It all started with a blog,” she quips, describing the process of fleshing out the idea and floating it among her friends. So convincing was her rough vision that people — including many Grinnellians who heard about her blog secondhand through social networks — began sending unsolicited donations to make her dream a reality.

“Grinnellians have been essential to my success from the beginning. It is so crazy how generous and enthusiastic people are [about my business]; I have received an outpouring of support from people I’ve never even met.”

This initial backing spurred Mackey to take the first steps toward selling pies, including construction of an iconic small blue stand. Then, reality struck: Working through necessary but tedious bureaucratic regulation delayed her launch for three crucial months of the 2012 summer market season.

That struggle found Mackey more committed than ever to bringing her pies to the public. She sought more support, and converted a food trailer so she wouldn’t have to rely on the kindness of friends with certified kitchens. It also means a couple hours of extra sleep and less waste, since she will be able to fry her pies on demand rather than before the market begins.

The pies themselves are responsible for only part of Mackey’s success. On market days, she plays a role, donning a vintage-inspired costume, subtly evoking the period many of her customers associate with fried pies. Comfort is built directly into the transaction. It’s a role that comes naturally to Mackey, one that she explored in her independent women’s literary studies major, which culminated in a thesis performance of her own one-woman show critiquing domesticity in the 1960s.

Well aware of the effect that the spark of other people’s enthusiasm and a small bit of funding can have on an idea, Dale’s Fried Pies regularly offers proceeds to young women with their own promising projects, an initiative Mackey calls Awesome Girl Squad. The program cultivates the same support for girls, telling them, “We think you can do this and here’s some money to support your dream.”

Check out Mackey’s blog on food and entertaining.

—Hilary Bown ’11

Willing to Experiment

In fall 2014, students enrolling in the newly redesigned course Computer Science 322: Team Software Development for Community Organizations will help test a new approach to alumni participation in the curriculum.

Janet Davis, associate professor of computer science, has redesigned the course to incorporate alumni mentors with industry experience. Small project teams of students will get the benefit of practical advice and assistance from alumni.

The effort comes with the support of the Alumni Relations staff and the Center for Careers, Life, and Service, which actively engage alumni in key campus programs and services.

Ian Young ’08 thinks it’s a really good idea. A computer science major, Young went into industry right after graduation. He’s a Ruby on Rails web developer and has been a freelancer since October 2013.

“There was definitely a lot for me to learn in industry,” Young says. “I had to apply what I learned at Grinnell.”

Students Will Benefit from Alumni Industry Experience

Young was one of the first students Davis got to know when she came to Grinnell in 2006. It was a conversation with him that made her realize that alumni mentors could do more than advise on the technical side of things.

Young explains, “What makes you valuable in the real world is a lot more about what you can build, your skill with tools, how well you communicate with clients and understand what they need.”

Davis is enthusiastic about inviting young alums — those who have been out of college for five to 10 years — back to campus. They remember well what it was like to be students themselves. Plus current students can relate to them.

A History of Bringing Alums to Campus

Asking alumni to share their expertise with students isn’t new, however. Doug Caulkins, professor emeritus of anthropology, was one of the pioneers in inviting alums to help with courses. He did this through Creative Careers: Learning from Alumni offerings, in which alums from many different fields come to campus and talk about their careers with students. In computer science, Professor Samuel Rebelsky also has taught classes featuring alumni.

Davis’s course is taking the approach even further. Computer Science 321 will be the first regular academic course that incorporates alumni expertise into the curriculum.

Innovation Grant Funds Pilot

It’s the first step in a three-year pilot project funded by a college Innovation Fund grant. The Fund supports promising ideas proposed by faculty, staff, and students for new approaches to teaching and scholarship, as well as student-initiated proposals that enrich campus life and learning.

The grant pays for a part-time staff person to work with faculty members across campus. This person will consult with faculty members about how alumni expertise can be effectively integrated into courses. The staff member will also handle research and the logistics involved in getting alumni to campus.

Mark Peltz expects the hire to come this summer. Peltz is the Daniel '77 and Patricia Jipp Finkelman '80 Dean in the Center for Careers, Life, and Service.

Peltz hopes the outcomes of the project will be so profound that the program will continue. Alumni bring knowledge and experience that complement what the College’s world-class faculty offers, he adds.

They also show vividly the achievement that can come for those with a Grinnell education. Peltz says, “Alumni engagement opens windows for students to see what graduates of a liberal arts college can do.”

Dev/Iowa Bootcamp

Dev/Iowa Bootcamp is a 9-week, intensive training program created to turn you into a professional web developer. 

Designed and led by industry experts, the program will offer an unprecedented, hands on, immersive learning environment emphasizing fundamental web development skills sought after by employers everywhere.

You are invited to come and hear more about this unique program.  Andrea Flemming of the Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Iowa will be presenting an information session at 12:15 p.m. Thursday, April 24, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 203.

The application deadline is Friday, May 2, 2014 with the actual dates of the Bootcamp being June 2-August 1, 2014.

Cambridge Associates on Campus

The Center for Careers, Life, and Service is developing a recruiting relationship with Cambridge Associates LLC, a privately held independent consulting firm. The firm, headquartered in Arlington, Va., provides consulting and investment oversight services to more than 900 clients worldwide. Cambridge Associates is looking to expand their list of core recruiting schools and is very interested in Grinnell College students.

March 4-5, Casey McIntyre, managing director at Cambridge, will be on campus to interview Grinnell students for their operations associate role, a solid entry-level position for students interested in a career in business, investments, and/or financial services. The full position description is posted in PioneerLink. The operations associate position at Cambridge Associate is open to all majors, but candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

McIntyre will be hosting an information session at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, in Rosenfield Center Room 209 and invites students to attend to hear more about the company and opportunities. [This event was rescheduled from Monday, March 3 due to weather.]

Making Music Happen Symposium

Making Music Happen Symposium: Working in the Music Industry Post-Grinnell
Thursday-Friday, March 6-7, 2014
A Grinnellink Event

About the Symposium

More than perhaps any other in recent history, the music industry has engaged in the act of reshaping and redesigning itself. The process of imagining a different structure and professional culture has elevated the value of individuals and companies who are able to demonstrate professional adaptability, a core tenet of what Grinnell students do every day.

This two-day symposium will bring to campus four Grinnell alumni who represent a variety of music-industry professions. Through the symposium events, these alumni will articulate the challenges and opportunities associated with careers in the music industry for liberal arts graduates. They will engage with the campus community through a panel discussion, one-on-one meetings, shared meals, and networking opportunities.

Symposium Schedule

Thursday, March 6, 2014

1–4 p.m. Rosenfield Center, second floor
Career Consultations (Student/Alumni Individual Appointments)
Students interested in meeting one-on-one with up to two alumni guests should call the Center for Careers, Life, and Service at 641-269-4940 to arrange a 20-minute appointment.

4:15 p.m. Rosenfield Center Room 101
Panel Discussion, moderated by KDIC station manager Daniel Kisslinger ’14.

Friday, March 7, 2014

9–11:30 a.m. Rosenfield Center, second floor
Career Consultations (Student/Alumni Individual Appointments)
Students interested in meeting one-on-one with up to two alumni guests should call the CLS at 641-269-4940 to arrange a 20-minute appointment.

Noon–2 p.m. Rosenfield Center Marketplace Pavilion (Whale Room)
Networking Lunch
Seize this opportunity to connect with and learn from these four active participants in the vibrant world of music. Sponsored by KDIC 88.5 FM, the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, and the Center for Careers, Life, and Service.

Alumni Bios

Cameo Carlson ’93 (political science) - Head of digital business development, Borman Entertainment and former executive vice president of Universal Motown Republic Group

About Cameo… Cameo Carlson has been at the forefront of the digital music revolution from its earliest stages. From terrestrial radio to online radio to digital and mobile commerce, she has demonstrated an ability to stay one step ahead of the industry throughout her career. Her roles have included mobile, online, and digital sales, product development, and marketing for artists such as Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Amy Winehouse, Lil Wayne, and Jack Johnson. Carlson has been responsible for marketing and selling three of the ten biggest digital albums in history as well as breaking mobile ringtone records for first week sales, top-selling of all time, and number of multi-platinum sales. In September 2008, Carlson was named one of the top mobile executives by Billboard Magazine for her work at UMRG. Prior to her work at UMRG, Carlson worked as the editorial and label relations manager for iTunes, and the alternative and rock programmer for Spinner.com/Radio@AOL, where she earned two U.S. patents for her work in online radio. All of this from humble beginnings as the host of "Music to Solve Your Rubik's Cube" on KDIC from 1991-1993.

John Chavez ’05 (music) - Agent, Ground Control Touring

About John… John Chavez graduated from Grinnell College in 2005 with a degree in music and a concentration in gender/women’s studies. While at Grinnell he served on the Concerts Committee for three years, chairing the committee for two of those years. He participated in various music-related extracurricular activities including running Freesound, publishing The Creature magazine, playing in various bands, coordinating Music Haus, and working with the campus administration to establish a college-hosted, semi-permanent, on-campus rehearsal space for campus bands.

After graduating from Grinnell, John embarked on a career in the music business, first as an employee of the Olympia, Wash.-based Kill Rock Stars record label, then as the co-founder and sole employee of The Free Agency. The Free Agency was a boutique booking agency that was founded in 2006 and was folded into Ground Control Touring in 2008. Funding for his initial internship at Kill Rock Stars was provided by Doug Cutchins and the CLS (then, the Career Development Office), and he gained invaluable work experience as the Student Government Association Concerts Chair while at Grinnell College.

His work in music is the defining characteristic of his life. He is personally responsible for the income of over 100 professional musicians and relishes the fact that his personal tastes in music and actions have some sort of influence and impact on the larger music landscape.

Ken Braun ’77 (religious studies) - Producer, Sterns Music

About Ken… Before coming to Grinnell, Ken Braun had lived most of his life in Ghana. After graduating, he relocated to the most Ghana-like place in the U.S. he could think of, New York City where his editorial and writing jobs focused increasingly on music, mainly rock ‘n’ roll, reggae, salsa, and African pop. His articles appeared in Rolling Stone, The Beat, The New York Times, and other publications. In 1986 he returned to Africa, volunteering for three years with Habitat for Humanity in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), and on returning to New York, he took a job in the Africa section of an international non-profit development organization. In 1993 he accepted an invitation to head the New York office of Stern’s Music, a British record company devoted to African music. He’s been with Stern’s ever since. Among his productions is a widely-reviewed and well-received series of retrospectives of the greatest Congolese musicians of the 20th century. Learn more about Ken's work in The New York TImes' Out of Africa, Passionately Packaged.

Andrew Ettenhofer ’00 (music) - Business development at Event Creative/Venue One

About Andrew… After graduating from Grinnell, Ettenhofer headed to Chicago where his first job was at the Sears headquarters, executing corporate A/V set-ups for meetings and events. Next he returned to Bloodshot Records, where he had interned during his senior year, to help build a system for tracking royalty payments. He then spent 13 years with the creative event firm, Fig Media, doing everything from deejaying private parties, to producing video projects, managing sales and production teams, and learning the art of sales and networking. In 2003 Andrew attended culinary school to enhance his love of food, and became a Le Cordon Bleu-certified chef focusing on gluten-free and other special diets. His other studies included postgraduate work at the Wright Institute in transformational leadership, team empowerment, and emotional/social intelligence. Last year he joined a new firm, Event Creative, as director of new business development and is responsible primarily for generating sales opportunities.