First-year Grinnell roommates reconnect a decade after national newspaper photo

September 15, 2022 — Karol Sadkowski ’16 and Reggie Sackey-Addo ’16 know the feeling many Grinnell College students are going through as they get to know and learn to coexist with their new residence hall roommates.
A decade ago, Sadkowski, then age 18, and Sackey-Addo, 17 at the time, were first-year roommates at Norris Hall. The pairing ended up being featured prominently in a 2012 USA Today article about roommates.   

Sadkowski and Sackey-Addo became fast friends and remained close during their student years. But, not unlike many former roommates, they went separate ways and drifted apart after graduation. 

Football alumnus Evan Petig ’98 and his wife, Abby Copeman Petig ’01, visit with Grinnellians during the outdoor celebration Saturday evening.
A USA Today page from Sept. 3, 2012, features an article about Karol Sadkowski ’16 and Reggie Sackey-Addo ’16 being matched as first-year roommates at Grinnell. 

Grinnell’s Young Alumni Weekend in June provided the impetus for Sadkowski and Sackey-Addo to reconnect and reminisce. While on campus, they decided to take photos in a few iconic locations on campus with the help of College photographer Justin Hayworth.

Written by Mary Beth Marklein, the USA Today story highlighted Grinnell’s roommate-pairing process. Grinnell staff hand-matched roommates as opposed to using a computer program. The last sentence of the article states, “It's too early to know whether they will become life-long friends, but Sadkowski says the matchup so far feels ‘pretty solid.’” 

During Young Alumni Weekend, Jeremy Shapiro, assistant director of DAR (Development and Alumni Relations) communications, sat down with Sadkowski and Sackey-Addo for a conversation. Here’s what transpired: 

Group photo of the 2022 Grinnell College Athletics Hall of Fame inductees.
Sackey-Addo and Sadkowski reunited on campus during Grinnell’s Young Alumni Weekend in June. 

DAR: When did you two first meet?

Reggie: We met for the first time on move-in day in 2012.

Karol: We lived on Norris third and didn’t know what we were getting into. The whole day was a blur. It was tiring. I saw the pictures from 10 years ago and apparently my parents were there.

Reggie: I was an international student, so my dad was here for international student orientation. But by the time Karol got over there he had left. It was mostly me helping Karol move-in. 

Karol: That sounds right. Thank you. I don’t think I ever said thank you. 

DAR: What sticks out 10 years later about your first year at Grinnell?

Reggie: The one thing that sticks out in my mind was the first time it snowed. 

Karol: You were dreading it, Reggie. I thought it was hilarious that you were dreading it so much. I grew up in Cedar Falls, Iowa, so I know what it was like in the winters here. The day it snowed I remember looking through the blinds and telling you it was snowing. 

Reggie: I’m from Ghana, so I had not experienced snow before. 

Karol: I think that’s also part of why we got paired together and why we got interviewed by USA Today, I think it’s because Reggie’s from Ghana, and I’m from next door. That’s why we got picked for it.

Reggie: The article was about roommate matching. My parents were very excited about the article. For me, I was mostly focused on settling in at the time. 

Karol: I was hoping for celebrity status, but I didn’t get it (laughing). No, I’m glad we were interviewed, and we have this opportunity now to re-live it. Thanks to Justin for getting the photo re-creations. Reggie and I have tried to do this before. In our fourth year at Grinnell, on the night of the block party we went back to our old dorm room where we lived together our first year. We like this throwback stuff and get sentimental about it.

Group photo of the 2022 Grinnell College Athletics Hall of Fame inductees.
Sackey-Addo and Sadkowski pose in front of Gates Tower.

DAR: Have you stayed in touch after graduation?

Reggie: No, we haven’t.

Karol: Every now and then, I’ve thought about Reggie for the six years since we’ve been out of here. 

Reggie: When I first moved in, his parents very kindly gave me a jacket. I still have it. Every time I see it, I think about your parents. 

Karol: That’s sweet. You would make my mom cry if she were here right now. My parents ask about you, too. I told them I saw you on the list to attend Young Alumni Weekend. It was surreal running into you. 

DAR: What are you currently up to now?

Reggie: I’m in St. Louis, working as a software engineer

Karol: I have been an English teacher and an English as a Second Language teacher in different capacities for four years. I’m about to go to graduate school at Vanderbilt for International Education Policy and Management. I’m very excited for what’s to come.

DAR: What’s it like to be back on campus for Young Alumni Weekend?

Reggie: It’s been a lot of fun to revisit Grinnell. My earliest memory of Grinnell is move-in day. It’s nice to see familiar faces. Last night I hugged a bunch of people. It’s been great.

Karol: I’ve been telling people since I arrived that this has been a really big healing weekend for me. I had a challenging student experience throughout the four years. I was a little anxious about my choice to register and attend this alumni weekend. This has only been good. The negativity that I associate with my student experience is gone. It’s good to be back.

Reggie: Karol, we’re going to make it a point to stay in touch.

Karol: Yes. You can’t get rid of me. I’ll see you in St. Louis.

— by Jeremy Shapiro

For your information:

Reggie and Karol’s reuniting was just one of the many reconnections made during Young Alumni Weekend in June for the classes of 2014-2021. 

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