Q&A with Misha Gelnarova ’18

Adrienne Hardin

Michaela “Misha” Gelnarova — an independent major in international relations and communications, from the Czech Republic — is vice president of academic affairs for the Student Government Association during the current (2017–18) school year.

Q: You seem like you’re involved in almost everything that happens on campus. Can you tell me about some of the leadership roles you serve in?

A: At Grinnell I lead a few organizations. The Extreme Society is an outdoor organization. We usually go over breaks to do some extreme activity, either surfing or hiking in the mountains. This past fall break we went to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. We drove 16 hours there and we had accommodations for 20 people. We stayed in giant cabins and cooked together. We went hiking every single day, met with some alums in the area, and it was really cool. 

I lead the Gourmet Cuisine Society, a group that focuses on gourmet food. We invite people from different parts of campus and different backgrounds to come and cook with us on Sundays. There are some people who have experience, and some that don’t. We all just come and cook. And then we eat together.  

Then I co-lead the Friends of Slavs, which is a group of students who come from Eastern Europe. We get to celebrate different holidays or important days for the countries that we come from. And it’s kind of cool how you get to see that, even though I’m alone here from the Czech Republic, there are similar things in Poland, and in Bulgaria, and in Russia, so we can combine that together. 

Q: You have a position on the Student Government Association too, don’t you? 

A: I serve as the vice president of academic affairs with the SGA. I get to represent the whole student body on different committees like the curriculum committee, and I get to sit in on the faculty meetings as well. 

A big part of my job is also everything that is related to the building of the new buildings [the Humanities and Social Studies Complex and the Admission and Financial Aid Center]. We’re choosing the furniture right now, and the colors in the building, and all the navigation and way finding, what the outside’s going to look like, what the landscape’s going to look like. So that’s super exciting.

Q: What have you learned by being on the Building Projects Committee?

A: That I know nothing about building [laughs]. I feel like you really take it to the details. We look at chairs and talk about what the bottom of the chair should look like. Are students going to be turning or moving around in class, or are they going to be just watching what’s happening at the front? It is really talked through, every single detail. It’s important not only to say what I think during those meetings, but also to bring information back to the different groups on campus and ask them what they think, and do my best to represent the student body. 

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