History Shaping Humanity

Erik Henderson ‘19

April 22, 2022

Even during New Student Orientation, Erik Henderson ‘19 knew that Grinnell was a special place. Throughout his time here, he found that the people around him — including faculty, staff, and fellow students — made a lifetime impact on him that he still cherishes.

Henderson relished exploring the opportunities and courses available to him at Grinnell. He realized that he had a passion for learning from those who came before us, and who had lived successful, impactful, and meaningful lives. The opportunity to learn about our history spoke to Henderson, and he began to see how past events have shaped humanity and how we see ourselves, as individuals, and as communities.

Guidance, Support, and Opportunity

Through thoughtful planning and career exploration, students can use their time at Grinnell to decide what they’d like to do with their degrees. As a history major, Henderson realized that the faculty would push him to be better academically and reach his full potential.

“A key part of my success at Grinnell was having a community of people to support me through thick and thin.”

Erik Henderson ’19

Henderson says the history department faculty helped him choose a career field. He had unique opportunities and experiences to meet interesting people who influenced his college experience and career development. In one case, he met with Grinnell’s archivists, Chris Jones and Allison Haack. Their conversation about his project led to deeper discussions and, ultimately, an internship opportunity. After Grinnell, Henderson studied library science at the University of Iowa, completed a fellowship in the Iowa Women’s Archives, and went on to a job as a librarian in Illinois.

Like many students, Henderson also got encouragement and guidance from staff at the Center for Careers, Life, and Service that helped him solidify his post-graduation plans. Henderson says he appreciated the opportunity to discuss his potential plans and destinations with a sympathetic and informed listener. The International Affairs team also made a significant impact on him. Henderson says they made his experience something he will never forget.

When asked which faculty members most impacted his experience at Grinnell, Henderson points to Associate Professor of History J. Pablo Silva and Professor of History Sarah Purcell ’92. They both pushed him to persevere through the challenges of his academic career. He also says that history professors Elizabeth Prevost, Al Lacson, Ed Cohn, and Michael Guenther, as well as postdoc AJ Lewis, opened his eyes to a world beyond what he knew from growing up on the south side of Chicago.  

Henderson learned lifetime skills and received invaluable guidance from those around him while at Grinnell, making long-lasting connections. He invites you to come to Grinnell and experience this for yourself.

Learn more about studying History at Grinnell

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