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Grinnellians you should know (or know about): William Lloyd Rebelsky ’17

I’d like to introduce you to my (honorary [1]) classmate and eldest son, William Lloyd Rebelsky ’17. William is definitely a Grinnellian you should know. Why? Let’s see.

William was a trailblazer at Grinnell. As far as we can tell, he was the first student to complete three majors as an undergraduate [2]. And, just because that wasn’t challenging enough, he added a concentration in Statistics and managed to achieve honors in all three majors [3]. He did research in computational chemistry and upper-level seminars in both Math and Econ.

William was also a three-sport athlete: He played line on the football team his first and second years, swam all four years, and played water polo his senior year. Of course, sports were not very nice to William: He tore his ACL in high-school soccer and had his clavicle broken and his labrum torn by a bad hit in football [4].

But neither his intellect nor his athleticism are reasons to know William [7]. You should know William because of his dedication to giving back to Grinnell. As a first-year, he not only took active bystander training, he also did the active bystander trainer training. He spent much of first and second year as a designated walker at parties [8]. Perhaps more importantly, he actively tutored his classmates through all four years at Grinnell. He informally helped friends a teammates with math, chemistry, econ, and more math [9]. More formally, he served as a tutor in the Math Lab, a mentor in intro chem, and a mentor in econometrics. I know that William doesn’t want to teach, but it was nice to have him do something that resembles my profession.

I am also regularly impressed by his willingness to help. I recall, for example, that Jen Jacobsen accidentally sent him a message that was intended for me. It said something like Don’t forget the meeting at …. He didn’t ask Why do you want me there? He didn’t say Shouldn’t I have received advance notice? He just showed up because he knew that if Jen asked, he should help.

I’ve appreciated having a son at Grinnell because it helps me think about the College from different perspectives. I learned a lot more about the varsity athlete / other student divide from varsity athlete son. I learned about policies that I did not know existed, such as English’s 36-credit major [10]. Having him at Grinnell has changed the way in which I interact with students, I think for the better.

Are there things about him that frustrate me? Certainly. Will I tell you what they are? Certainly not.

One other thing that I appreciate about William [11] is his enthusiasm for serious discussion. I’ve found that he listens to others, even when he doesn’t agree with them, and formulates good counter-arguments. He would have fit in well at UChicago [12].

As I noted in the end notes, William has many other characteristics beyond his intellect, his athleticism, his willingness to help out, his teaching abilities, and his appreciation for discussion and debate. But I think I’ve covered enough for this musing.

I’m proud of you, eldest!

[1] He is my honorary classmate because he is class of 2017 and I am an honorary member of the class of 2017.

[2] Mathematics, Economics, and Chemistry.

[3] Upon hearing that, one of my friends noted It’s hard enough to get honors in three majors at a state school. I can’t imagine doing that at Grinnell.

[4] Since he seems to be impervious to pain, he did not realize he had a broken clavicle or a torn labrum and played the rest of the season. Then he swam [5] because what better way is there to rehab a shoulder injury than swimming? When that didn’t work, he did some real rehab. When that didn’t work, he finally found out that he’d broken his clavicle and torn his labrum [6].

[5] Fly, of course.

[6] Or, more precisely, the person who hit him in the shoulder did so.

[7] They may, however, be reasons to know of William.

[8] That is, the sober person you can trust to walk you home.

[9] If I recall correctly, he spent his prospie visit helping people with Linear.

[10] I had thought that all majors at Grinnell were capped at 32 credits of explicit requirements plus some number of hidden requirements.

[11] I was going to say one final thing, but that would be incorrect. There are many more things that I appreciate. This is just the last one I’m writing about in this musing.

[12] My alma matter, where fun goes to think.

Version 1.0 of 2017-07-31.