Text: Open doors to Open Minds

Open doors to open minds

Opportunity and variety — made possible by philanthropy — allows students like Declan O’Reilly ’21 to change the world.

While excelling in track and field by winning conference championships as an individual and as a member of the Pioneer relay teams, O’Reilly also stood out in the classroom, earning Academic All-Conference honors twice.

“Grinnell is unique in that it has allowed me to focus on academics, while still continuing musical studies and performance and athletics, which are all very important to me,” O’Reilly says. “I have worked very hard to make the most of my opportunities here. I double-majored in economics and music, I run cross country and track, I am a drummer in the Latin Music Ensemble, and I have also played timpani and classical percussion. I am also interested in science, government, and the law.”

Declan O’Reilly ’21 and his relay teammates celebrate their relay win.
Declan O'Reilly '21, lower left, celebrates a first place finish with his relay teammates.

Without philanthropy, explains O’Reilly, none of these experiences would have been available to him.

“Scholarships made attending Grinnell possible for me,” he says. “The people who support Grinnell support the great academics and the entire experience, which expands the horizons of all students. I have enjoyed this benefit, and it has helped me realize that I can make a difference in the world.”

O’Reilly is not alone in this sentiment. He says his friends and classmates all feel intensely that Grinnell is a special place and a special part of their lives.

“We appreciate the classes, the professors, the library, the community of curious students, and the study spaces,” he says. “We know that without philanthropy, the Grinnell experience would not exist for any of us, or for future Grinnellians.”

Declan O’Reilly ’21 plays drums during the Medallion Ceremony Fall 2019.
Declan O’Reilly ’21 performs with the Latin Music Ensemble on campus.

An all-conference track-and-field runner at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, O’Reilly came to Grinnell to explore a wide range of interests and discover new passions. He knew this would not only make his four years on campus interesting and exciting, it would prepare him for the rest of his life.

“My time at Grinnell has exceeded my expectations,” he says. “I have had great experiences in academics, music, and athletics. I have also met people from many places and backgrounds, and made and learned from the great friends I have made at school, whom I never would have met had I not been able to attend Grinnell.”

— by Tim Schmitt