Alumni Senior Awards 2016

The Grinnell College Alumni Council along with a committee of alumni faculty and staff selected two graduating seniors to receive Alumni Senior Awards at Baccalaureate 2016. This year we honored the following individuals:

Jasmine Gerritsen '16 and Sophie Neems '16

Jasmine Gerritsen '16

Grinnell has long had a commitment to social justice, and there is no question that this first recipient has embodied that idea during her time at Grinnell. Almost from the moment she arrived on campus, this student has been making an impact. She has taught kickboxing and weightlifting classes for nontraditional populations since her first year, and students and staff commend her for giving women opportunities to feel strong and capable in places they often have not felt welcome. She has led multiple Alternative Break trips. This recipient, an L.A. Posse Scholar, also has been a stellar student. Her professors note that she takes on ambitious courses and excels in them. In class discussions, she shares powerful perspectives that too often remain on the margins. She has pursued similarly ambitious off-campus activities. She volunteered as a Grinnell Prison Program teacher, and has done work for the Ignite program, which brings local school-age children to Grinnell College for a day. As a summer apprentice for the Grinnell Area Local Foods Alliance, she managed the student garden, worked closely with local farmers, and helped establish two “Giving Gardens” in town. In all of her activities, she is recognized for her organization, energy, and thoughtfulness. For her work both on and off campus that has made measurable improvements in people’s lives, we are pleased to recognize Jasmine Gerritsen, class of 2016.

Sophie Neems '16

One of Grinnell’s hallmarks is its powerful and tightknit community. And throughout her time at Grinnell, our second recipient has helped build and strengthen those community ties. A strong student, this woman is a member of the anthropology Student Educational Policy Committee and an advisory board member for the Center for Prairie Studies. She is also a committed athlete on both the cross country and track teams, and was named cross country captain as well as the team’s Most Valuable Athlete. She organizes the annual Holiday Lights run, in which the men’s and women’s teams run to the Mayflower Retirement Home and sing holiday songs to residents. One of this recipient’s passions is food justice. She has been a board member of the Local Foods Coop and a member of the Food for Thought Student Group. She has participated in the Community Initiative in Sustainable Agriculture Conference. She has also served as the lead organizer for the Local Foods Thanksgiving meal, an event that serves meals to 200 people and raises money for local service groups.Her peers and professors recognize her for more than her accomplishments: they praise her as “inspiring,” and “what Grinnell College should strive to have their students become.” For her dedication to strengthening the Grinnell community, both on campus and off, we are proud to honor Sophie Neems, class of 2016.