Skip to main content

Young alumni weekend (#1192)

Topics/tags: Grinnell

This past weekend was Young Alumni Weekend [1] at Grinnell, an alternate (second?) reunion for students who graduated in the past ten years or so. It provided something like an alternative graduation for students in the class of 2020 as well as a chance for the class of 2017 [2] to be together. I think I heard that at least half of the class of 2020 made it back to campus.

Class of 2020 students got a pancake breakfast with a few faculty which ended with a short speech by President Harris and a recorded commencement address by the person who would have been their commencement speaker. There was also a great picnic or two, Relays [3], a Choose Your Own Adventure Harris [4], a 5K run [5], even a Cheers to Grinnell at 10:10 one evening.

I don’t know if a fabulous time was had by all, but a fabulous time was definitely had by many.

I certainly had a good time.

It was great to see so many alums I care about. I had the privilege to hear what people were doing with their careers and their lives. I received some great hugs. I discussaed art and computing, although not simultaneously. I learned about some alums doing important things to improve society. I ate some good food [6]. I even heard, both directly and indirectly, that I had a positive impact on people’s lives. I suppose that’s what I regularly say about teaching at Grinnell, I get to make an impact on some awesome people. I just didn’t realize that so many felt that way.

Despite these many positives, there were some negatives. And yes, I’m way too successful at identifying negatives. But there were negatives.

First of all, some alums in these cohorts who didn’t make it back. Although I saw many alums, I wish I’d seen more. I suppose that there’s always email or phone or perhaps even other modes of communication [7].

Second, I wish I’d had more time to chat with ceratain alums. Some are almost family (but I don’t seem them as much as I see my family). I’d intended more time with them, but I kept getting pulled away for yet another person to say hi to.

But the worst part was that I didn’t recognize everyone and couldn’t remember everyone’s name. In part, that’s because I’m traditionally bad at names. In part, that’s because the number of CS alums keeps increasing, although not exponentially. In part, the events of the past year and a half have affected me [8]. I hate forgetting; it’s awful hearing that I’m important to someone (or just having someone say hi) and feeling that I can’t even remember their name. Unfortunately, it’s not under my control; it’s not even a sign that I don’t care.

So, …

  • If you didn’t make it back for YAW, I’m sorry that I didn’t get to see you. Please drop me a note.
  • If you made it back for reunion and we didn’t get enough time to talk, let’s find some more time to talk some more.
  • If you made it back from reunion and I was not appropriately attentive or seemed a bit confused, I’m so very sorry. You are important to me, too, but my memory is not always perfect.

Most importantly: I’m thankful that I’ve had the chance to teach so many wonderful people and I’m thankful I got to see so many of them this weekend, if even for a minute or two.

I look forward to the next reunion, the next YAW, the next CS affinity reunion, and any other opportunities I have to interact with these wonderful people.

And Thanks DAR!!!! [9]. It was an amazing event.

Postscript: There’s another regret, too. I wasn’t able to be in Grinnell for the primary Grinnell reunion. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be here for that. I missed some alums who are incredibly important to me. I hope to get other opportunities to see them in the near future.

Postscript: Come to think of it, I’m also sorry that I didn’t wear my academic robes to Profs and Pancakes. Since it was a substitute graduation, robes would have been appropriate.

[1] YAW, in TLA-speak.

[2] I’d forgotten that I was an honorary member of that class for a moment.

[3] I asked a senior faculty member whether it was like the Relays of old. They said that while the particular games have changed, the community and drinking seemed much the same.

[4] I’m sorry, but that sounds terrifying to me.

[5] I’m told that it’s not a good idea to try to keep up with the Cross Country runners.

[6] Thanks Dining Services / Catering! I heard that alums particularly appreciated how much fruit there was.

[7] I hear that these other modes of communication became more popular during the height of the pandemic.

[8] Michelle says that anesthesia is particularly bad for my brain. The heart attack wasn’t great, either.

[9] Development and Alumni Relations.

Version 1.0 of 2022-06-20.