What It’s Like to Participate in the Diversity Travel Opportunity Program
Or why visiting campus can help you decide if Grinnell is for you
This is a story about four young women who found each other and, ultimately, Grinnell College through the Diversity Travel Opportunity program.
In the summer of 2012, all four were rising high school seniors:
- Glorianne Dorce was living an hour and a half north of Atlanta, where she attended public school.
- Geneva Guadalupe attended a private Catholic high school in Orlando, Fla.
- Amanda Hinchman-Dominguez went to public school in Titusville, Fla.
- Karo Marquez-Gil, who has dual U.S. and Colombian citizenship, attended a large public high school near Miami.
The Application Process
Based on their strong test scores, they all received email invitations from Patty Amador-Lacson, coordinator of multicultural recruitment at Grinnell, to apply to the travel program. The process includes submitting test scores and transcripts.
Guadalupe thought it was a lot to submit, but also that “it would be really cool to get your flight covered and have the opportunity to visit campus.”
Dorce says, “The application process helped because it made me think about myself, and before [that] I mostly just focused on my grades. It helped me understand what it means to talk about yourself, and what it means to present about yourself in a different sort of way.”
All four applied to the program and were accepted. Amador-Lacson gave them each other’s contact and flight information so they could meet up en route (she only does this if the students give permission). They ended up sitting together on one flight.
“We just hit it off,” Dorce says. “It was great.”
Exploring What Grinnell Has to Offer
The four arrived on campus with about 20 other students. They met their host students — currently enrolled students with whom they stayed in the residence halls. They ate meals in the Dining Hall, attended a class, toured campus, checked out student clubs, and tried some of the nightlife.
Marquez-Gil attended a meeting of the Student Organization of Latinx (SOL) with her host student and invited Dorce along. “It was super cool,” Marquez-Gil says. “I was like, ‘Oh, there are Latinos here.’” Dorce was happily surprised too.
Many people are surprised at how diverse Grinnell’s student body is — 26% domestic students of color and 18% international students — given that the state of Iowa is about 91% white.
“Everyone’s definition of what’s diverse is a lot different,” Guadalupe says. “For me [Grinnell] was more diverse in the sense that I was having more political diversity and religious diversity but also more ethnic diversity and probably socioeconomic diversity.”
Deciding Whether Grinnell Fits
Meeting current students was key for Hinchman-Dominguez. “I got to meet with the emcee for open mic night at Bob’s Underground and she promptly invited us over to her house,” says Hinchman-Dominguez. “My host also introduced me to all her friends, who I immediately clicked with. Maybe it was unconscious at the time, but I felt that a good community is key to being able to motivate yourself to stay through school, despite the obstacles.”
Sometimes finding a good fit means making a change or two. For Marquez-Gil, who was used to hot, humid weather in Miami, the October chill in Iowa was surprising. “I hadn't been in any cold weather, so I felt like this was a nice change,” she says.
Coming from a high school with 3,000 students, Marquez-Gil also liked the size of the student body. “I came here and I saw how everybody is friends with everyone. The professors knew the people in the class, and the classes were small. People knew you as a person and not as a number,” she says.
For Guadalupe, the connections she made on the travel program helped her decide. “Knowing a few people was something that I felt was a good connection — people not only with a similar background but from a similar geographic area. That is something that would be really helpful with the transition,” she says.
All four decided to apply. Three applied early decision and got in.
Guadalupe wasn’t as sure about Grinnell as the others were. But one small thing helped make up her mind to apply.
During her visit she was in another student’s room hanging out and left her iPod behind. The student wasn’t Guadalupe’s host, but she contacted Guadalupe to let her know she’d left her iPod there.
“A couple days later in the mail I received my iPod from the Admission office,” Guadalupe says. “I was kind of in shock because I was not expecting them to send me this back. I thought ‘Wow, they really care about their applicants.’”
Fast-Forward 4+ Years
On a warm, sunny day in May 2017, all four young women walked across Grinnell’s Commencement stage. They stayed in touch throughout their four years at Grinnell. Marquez-Gil and Hinchman-Dominguez were first-year roommates. Guadalupe and Dorce attended church services together and took a couple of courses together. They were often in the same clubs, like SOL and the African Caribbean Student Union.
- Glorianne Dorce ’17 majored in chemistry and did a concentration in policy studies. She’s taking a year to volunteer with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in New Jersey before pursuing graduate school. “My goal is to be a water chemist,” she says.
- Geneva Guadalupe ’17 majored in political science. She hopes to attend law school and become an advocate for the voiceless.
- Amanda Hinchman-Dominguez ’17 majored in computer science.
- Karo Marquez-Gil ’17 majored in biological chemistry and sociology. She plans to start graduate school in the fall in forensic medicine. “I want to do forensic pathology,” she says.