Brian Goodell

Brian’s Journey


Brian Goodell


Northfield, Minnesota


Computer Science and Political Science

Why Grinnell?

When I was looking at colleges, I was the kind of person who had a spreadsheet with all the different schools and their stats and everything. I always knew I wanted to go to a smaller school. So, I had visited lots of campuses and then I came and visited Grinnell.

Brian and his friends laugh and enjoy dinner in the dining hall
I still love spending time in the dining hall with my friends.

In the dining hall, I sat with some kids I knew vaguely from high school. The conversation just clicked with me. I liked the people I met at Grinnell — everyone was smart and funny, and I just loved listening to their conversation. It was just so much fun to see everyone interact.

That carries over into being a student, since I feel like us Grinnellians are fine with making fun of ourselves. So the sense of being willing to relax and have a good time is very prevalent here.

I was like, okay, I like this place. I feel like I could be here.

“I was like, okay, I like this place. I feel like I could be here.”

Brian Goodell ’24

Exploring the World in a Van 

Because of the pandemic, we weren’t on campus for the first semester. It sounds weird, but I spent that semester living in a van. I bought a used minivan and custom-fitted it with everything I needed, building my own futon and doing all the wiring for the solar panels. I took my classes online while traveling to national parks and stuff. That was really fun — completely different from anything I’d experienced. My mom was stressed for a bit, but I would call her every day for the first couple of weeks.

The interior of Brian's van, complete with futon and solar panels.
Here’s a look at my van during the set-up process.

I actually did my First-Year Tutorial in Yellowstone. I have a vivid memory of being in a parking lot next to a geyser while I was taking my tutorial class. The topic of my class was Learning and Unlearning How to Tell Time. It was with an econ professor, Tamara McGavock. She’s amazing! It was a great tutorial.

We also did these weekly online meetups with our New Student Orientation groups. We’d go online and play Among Us and hang out and talk. I made some good friends, and it got me really excited to be on campus!

My Travels So Far

Running Down a Dream

My senior year of high school, I decided to join cross country because I had friends on the team. When I was getting ready to come to Grinnell, I sent a tentative email to the coach, and she was like, “Yeah, you’re on the team.”

I was like, okay, I guess I’m doing this.

As an athlete, I was able to live on campus for the whole second semester during that COVID year. It was a weird time, but it was fun. I had never done track before, so I was super nervous because I thought, they’re going to realize I’m a fraud. Everyone else is going to be crazy fast, and everyone’s going to make fun of me for not being fast or whatever. But now, the people who I met that semester are some of my favorite people on campus. It was wonderful to always be surrounded by friends — I’d just walk out my door and know someone would be hanging out in our floor’s lounge. I have very fond memories of that time.

I love getting out and running. It’s amazing. 

Men and women cross country runners celebrate the conference championship
I was initially pretty nervous about going out for track and cross country. But now my teammates are some of my favorite people on campus. 

And this year, we won the conference title, and I won the individual title! That was wonderful. Since the meet was at home, there was a bunch of alumni there cheering us on, which made all the difference. The energy there was crazy, and the night before we’d had a former conference champ from the class of ’72 give us a hype-up speech, so it just felt incredibly special that we were able to get the win!

For young men in suits stand in front of the courthouse
Me on the left with my co-externs and host in New Hampshire.

My Externship

With the help of Careers, Life, and Service, I did an externship with the New Hampshire Supreme Court. We got to see behind the scenes: we talked to some of the justices and sat in on oral arguments. Essentially, we saw how the lawyers approached the cases and how the justices’ questions were informed by how they felt about the case beforehand. We got to debrief afterwards and say, okay, based on the questions that the justices asked, how do we think they’re leaning? Obviously, they’re not allowed to discuss their opinions afterwards, but you can take guesses.

It was fascinating. I had taken constitutional law my first year online and I really liked it. I didn’t think I was interested in the judicial system before that class. Then I got this externship and I was like, okay, this is actually fascinating! Now I’m taking the constitutional law seminar next semester and very excited for that.

I was not considering law school at all, and now it’s definitely on my radar. I don’t know — it might not be something I end up doing, but it’s definitely something I’m interested in.

It wouldn’t have happened without CLS.


I feel very lucky — my friends are amazing. I think they’re unique in their ability to make everything enjoyable. I’ve been roommates with the same person since second year. This year, we have a quad and so we both have singles and two of our other friends have a double. The four of us have our own kitchen, too. I love hanging out with them in our main room and just talking. Last night, we stayed up until one in the morning, sitting around having a conversation about what we were going to do after Grinnell.

Substance-Free Fun

When I came to Grinnell, I knew I didn’t want to drink or anything. Honestly, it was something I was really worried about coming into college because I’ve always known that I didn’t want to drink, more out of stubbornness than anything else. It wasn’t as significant of an issue as I thought it would be. During the pandemic, there weren’t really any parties to go to. By the time I was a second-year, I had a little more sense of comfort there and a little more self-confidence, but really, I think it’s just that Grinnellians want to let you be yourself.

I like going to the parties and interacting with other people and just seeing everyone. But it’s really the conversations and just walking to class and being around all my favorite people that I love the best.

Brian and five friends pose on a picnic table with leafy trees and a lake in the background.
Spending time with friends, just doing whatever, is the best!

Live and Let Live

On the cross country team especially, there’s a very strong sense that anyone who tries to make anyone else drink is not the kind of person we want on our team. The seniors who were here when I was coming onto the team were very much like, “We want everyone to feel comfortable and we want everyone to be able to be themselves.” The cross team has been wonderfully supportive of anyone on the team who doesn’t want to drink. People can enjoy being here however they want, and it doesn’t matter.

Hopes and Plans for the Future

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Next year, I’m looking at a fellowship opportunity. I worked at a Spanish immersion camp for the last three summers. They have a fellowship there that’s essentially traveling around learning languages, exploring the world and culture. I’m in the process of applying, but I don’t know if I’m going to get that. So I’m also looking for a job, ideally a remote job.

My adviser and I had this phenomenal conversation that I think relieved a lot of the stress that I’ve been having. He was like, “You need to bounce around for a while. Don’t get weighed down and feel like the first job that you take is where you’re going to spend the rest of your life.”

It’s just nice to have people who actually know what they’re doing because I definitely don’t.

Whatever I do, I have a strong sense that whatever it is, it’ll work out!

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