Members Reflect on Their Opportunity to Give Back
When I consider what the Alumni Council has done, is doing, and will do in the future, it is important to take stock of where we have been and what those who have served on the council think. In that spirit, we are focusing on thoughts from three members who are completing their council service: Ryann Haines Cheung ’93, Jeetander Dulani ’98, and Rick Stuck ’82 (pictured left to right in fall 2019).
Why did you join the Alumni Council?
People come to the Alumni Council for different reasons. For Ryann and Rick, it was a natural next step as longtime volunteers. Jeetander says it was part of his continuing interest in paying Grinnell back for the faith it showed when it took a chance on him over 20 years ago.
What has been your most meaningful experience as a member of the council?
Each person mentioned the opportunity Alumni Council service gave them to learn more about Grinnell and engage in needed conversations with alumni, staff, and students. In particular, Jeetander cited the work that has been done to focus on diversity and inclusion, helping the alumni community to have productive conversations on difficult topics.
What have you learned about the College or alumni community that surprised you?
For Jeetander it was that there is no single “Grinnell experience.” Each alum, student, faculty, and staff member comes to Grinnell and approaches the College differently. Yet, as Ryann points out, this is all done in a desire to make Grinnell better. “The unique Grinnell experiences each community member has color our own desires to make Grinnell a better place and approach issues with the sort of nuance and detail that Grinnell taught all of us,” she says.
What are your hopes for the work the council will continue after your service?
As all of our departing members acknowledge, Grinnell and higher education as a whole are at a crossroads, facing issues ranging from the pandemic to calls for racial justice. It is their hope the College takes this opportunity to create more inclusive events, such as online events that bring together diverse communities or alumni groups that may be too small to do such events on their own. In addition, they want the Alumni Council to focus on continuing to facilitate and have the necessary hard conversations on issues facing the Grinnell community.
Do you have any words of wisdom for Grinnell alumni?
Jeetander says, “Don’t stop speaking truth to power,” whether that power is the Grinnell administration, political leaders, or those in your work or social lives. Ryann says, “Find some talent or knowledge you can share with Grinnell — be it on the Alumni Council or not. Staying involved has been so awesome — and has expanded my wealth of friends beyond the four years I attended.” Rick adds, “I have bittersweet feelings as my tenure on the Alumni Council is coming to an end. It was one of the most meaningful experiences I have had from any organization that I have been involved with over the years.”
It has been an honor to serve with these three members, and I look forward to their continuing service within the alumni community and for Grinnell College.
Please contact any Alumni Council member to find ways to participate. For more information or to apply to join, visit Alumni Council.