Paying It Forward

Class of 1995 couple has given to Grinnell for 27 consecutive years.
Jeremy Shapiro

From continued friendships to family memories made at Reunions, Grinnell College has remained a central part of the lives of Patrick Palsgrove ’95 and Jenny Matson Palsgrove ’95.

The Illinois couple has fond memories from their student days of hanging out in the loggias, forming community connections, and studying abroad.

“Grinnell College became such a part of our lives and who we have become,” Patrick says. “Over the years I didn’t think twice about giving. I was a financial aid recipient, so I wanted to pay it forward.”

When they separately made $5 gifts a month after graduation in 1995, Patrick and Jenny didn’t realize it would be the start of 27 straight years of annual giving to Grinnell College. The Palsgroves have mainly supported the unrestricted Pioneer Fund but in recent years have also made gifts for scholarships and financial aid.

“As our kids get older and closer to college age, we’re becoming more aware of how much more college costs than when we attended,” Patrick says. “We think being able to give in a small way to help someone go to their dream school or to realize their dream is important.”

Grinnell became a dream school for the Palsgroves even though there was some hesitation at first because of the seemingly remote location. Jenny grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, and was seeking a liberal arts school within driving distance. She was won over after visiting campus. Patrick hailed from Colorado Springs, Colorado, but had family in Iowa, so he had a little familiarity with Grinnell before applying.

Jenny studied psychology and took part in the Grinnell-in-London program while Patrick majored in biology, “although one of my favorite classes was archeology,” he says. He studied abroad in Costa Rica. The two became friends as second-year students but did not date. They remained in touch after graduation. At one point, Patrick’s brother lived a few blocks away from Jenny in the Chicago area. Eventually the relationship grew, and they got married in 2005.

Today, Patrick is a physician assistant of orthopedic surgery at NorthShore University Health System. Jenny works with nonprofit agencies mainly as a fundraiser, including grant writing and event planning. They have two children, Aidan (15) and Zachary (11).

When they can get time off, the Palsgrove family enjoys traveling.

“Our two big trips have been Japan and Costa Rica,” Jenny says. “We’ve also been all over the United States. We do a lot of hiking since Patrick grew up in Colorado, including visiting many national and state parks. We also love going to the beach.”

They return to Grinnell for reunions, to meet friends, or when traveling through Iowa to or from Colorado. Jenny vividly recalls memories of Aidan and Zachary riding scooters on campus.

“Grinnell has remained in the forefront,” Jenny says. “I was wearing a Grinnell College sweatshirt when we went to breakfast the other day. A Grinnellian walked in, saw my shirt, and we did a cheer for Grinnell. It’s fun to have these chance meetings with fellow alums.”

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