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Alumni Oral Histories

The Alumni Oral History Project aims to better understand and share the history of Grinnell College by recording and preserving oral histories with members of the Grinnell College alumni community. This collection of oral histories was recorded between 2009 and the present as part of the annual alumni Reunion weekend event.

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Alumni oral history interview with Nicolas Schapira '01. Recorded June 3, 2011.
I wanted to separate myself from everybody else, and I wanted to have a completely different experience than a large university. I went to a huge high school. My graduating class was 1,000 kids, so I just wanted something completely different. So instead I was looking at some of the view books that were- that I was getting sent after the SATs and PSATs came out and I got Grinnell and I said, "Ooh, Iowa! Nobody would believe I would go there!" and so I applied and they came back, they offered me pretty good financial aid package and they offered to fly me over.

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Alumni oral history interview with Rochelle M. Gandour-Rood '02. Recorded June 1, 2012.
My acceptance packet from Grinnell arrived, and it was like, "Yay! We're so excited! We really hope you'll join us! We love you!" And there's like tons of exclamation points, and like, at the very end it was like, "P.S. You need to fill out this health form," but it wasn't like in the first sentence. And I just- at that moment I knew that like, Grinnell, with this like, just welcoming, inclusive atmosphere, and like, all that- I just knew this was the place I wanted to be.

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Alumni oral history interview with Sarah Nuss-Warren '02. Recorded June 2, 2012.
That was an amazing class as well, because instead of listening to someone, I got to sit there and think about the problems on my own, and since it was a computer-based math class, instead of spending all the time doing multiplication and division, the computer did all of the grunt work and you got to figure out how to solve the problems.

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Alumni oral history interview with Kalilah Moxley '02. Recorded June 2, 2012.
I wanted to go to a small town to a small school where you can get individualized attention. And I came here and it was middle of nowhere, so it was complete opposite of what I was used to and I wanted to get far away from home to experience something different. I figured, “Oh, 1,000 miles, that’ll work.”

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Alumni oral history interview with Daniel Bartell '03. Recorded June 2, 2013.
I was staying with the swim team and it was Mary B. James night, and the fact that like, I mean, everyone in the campus was dressing up and going to this, and like, the fact that they were holding it on a prospective student weekend, I was like, "Well, okay. The school must be very cool if they can trust a party like this." And- yeah, and just walking into Harris and seeing it packed, I was like, "This is the group for me. This is a fun group."

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Alumni oral history interview with Sarah Elizabeth King '03, Preeti Gupta '03, Katherine Ann Jones '03, and Evan Michael Torner '04. Recorded June 1, 2013.
Don’t hold yourself back for any reason. There is so much that this college has to offer socially, academically, creatively... I mean, there’s so much. Not just the campus, but the town itself, there’s so much that it’s like, I feel like I held myself back out of fear and... And I didn’t experience everything I could have, so don’t hold yourself back.

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Alumni oral history interview with Alison Williams Presley '03. Recorded May 31, 2013.
So, I applied here, I toured the campus, got a scholarship so it was really easy to make this transition here 'cause it was just such a great... It just made me feel really good. Everyone felt really welcoming, and I mean... you know, being a current student that it just-- Everyone is so happy, and... thrilled to be here and so intelligent, and... welcoming.

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Alumni oral history interview with Robert Schwaller '03 and Rachel Schwaller. Recorded June 1, 2013.
I think that my experience, which I think is the experience of a lot of people, is that having that opportunity, whether its to play in inter-collegiate athletics, or just to play intramural, is really what helps to kind of round out the education and provide something else to... to help you grow and develop in new ways.

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Alumni oral history interview with Rania Robb '03. Recorded June 1, 2013.
The curriculum is world-class. The opportunities and experiences here... I can’t even use words to describe and they just really made an impact on my heart. And then the friends that I've made here: truly long-lasting, and although I’ve been like a lot of other people where we’re all different in terms of our background and personalities, yet somehow Grinnell seems to fit us all like a glove.

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Alumni oral history interview with Tiffany Edwards '03. Recorded May 31, 2013.
Oh my goodness, I fell in love with Grinnell, Iowa, and the beauty and the openness, the clean-- the cleanliness, the stars, and it was a wonderful experience, let alone learning-- learning very much to critical-think, and that's something still do today, and it originiated here.

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Alumni oral history interview with Kati Murman '03 and Katie Pieper '03. Recorded June 2, 2013.
He actually stood up in the debate in front of everybody at the Forum and said, “I’m a guy, how do you think you could possibly represent me as a woman, as Student Government President?” And I was like, “Well, the same way that I expect every Student Government President while I have been here that’s a man to represent me.”

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Alumni oral history interview with Nicholas Buess '04. Recorded May 31, 2014.
In the basement of Darby gymnasium there was a very musty photography studio, and a very musty ceramics studio, which collectively we called the "craft workshop". And I.. for three of the years that I was here, my sophomore through senior year, I ran the little pottery side of the craft workshop.

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Alumni oral history interview with Margo Gray '05, Jenny Noyce '05, and Maggie Montanaro '05. Recorded 3-June-2011.
So many people- I live in Chicago right now which is a huge concentration of Grinnellians, and other people who I know, they’re all like, “Oh are you guys talking about plans again?” Or, they’ll say things like, “Ugh, another Grinnellian who's helping you with something? Ah! Why are there so many of you?” It's like, there aren’t so many of us. We just find each other and are willing to help each other. Like, if you call up a Grinnellian you’re like, “Oh by the way, do you know anything about this?” and they’re always willing...

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Alumni oral history interview with Rebecca Mauldin '05. Recorded June 5, 2011.
The sense of community in Grinnell College is really amazing. Being back here is just, it floods you with memories, like wonderful memories. I think that’s so essential to a college experience, that you come back and you are overwhelmed by this sort of sense of love. That’s cool, but that’s hard to write down, y’know? That’s not- that’s a feeling.

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Alumni oral history interview with John Bowers '06 and Leighton Bowers '04. Recorded June 4, 2011.
It’s the way that the community is structured and the smallness of it, which is something I keep coming back to as part of.. is one of Grinnell’s great virtues. It enables these kind of events to just pervade every aspect and you have that ability to kind of have something that impacts everybody even though it’s all very local.

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Alumni oral history interview with Mary Parker '06. Recorded June 3, 2011.
I remember really liking it as we came into town. It's different from where I live, it’s more town-y, less city-y. So, I just thought it was cute. I really liked the redbrick buildings and all the move-in people were super friendly and then Mom didn’t want to leave and she wanted to come here and go to college here, despite the fact that she’s been to college. She’s got a master’s degree and everything.

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Alumni oral history interview with Carly Schuna ‘06. Recorded June 3, 2011.
I decided that I wanted to come here because it just- I loved the way that the school felt. I loved the vibe. I felt really comfortable here. I've always been sort of a weird person and I felt like there were a lot of weird people here, and that was a very good thing for me, personally.

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Alumni oral history interview with Benjamin Cantor-Stone '07. Recorded June 3, 2011.
If you want to really get to know your professor, do field research with them for six weeks. Share a bathroom with them, and twelve, thirteen other people. That’s how you get to know your professors.

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