Welcoming the class of 2023

Sept. 3, 2019 — While the class of 2023 arrived at Grinnell College from 44 different states and 20 far-flung countries, they now and forever will be part of a close-knit community.

“At Grinnell, you will be in places you never thought you’d be in, having conversations you never thought you’d be having with people you never thought you’d ever meet,” Ayyad Jacob ’20, co-president of the Student Alumni Council, told first-year students at the 2019 medallion ceremony.

“All of you come from across the world, with different passions, hobbies, and talents. Every person you see around you has a story, and you have four years to listen and learn from these unique and extraordinary people. These are the people that will help shape who you become throughout these four years, and I can’t think of a better community to grow and learn in.”

Jacob welcomed the 463 first-year students who received medallions at Herrick Chapel Wednesday, the day before fall classes began. The ceremony concluded New Student Orientation and connected the College’s past to the future.

The class of 2023 inspects their medallions
First-year students examine the medallions that commemorate a responsibility to help sustain Grinnell College in the future.

The Medallion Ceremony pays tribute to an important event in the College’s history. On June 10, 1846, James J. Hill of the Iowa Band laid a silver dollar on the table at a meeting of the Iowa College Association, declaring it to be the seed of an endowment to support outstanding students and faculty. New students are annually given a silver medallion to commemorate Hill’s gift and signify a responsibility to help sustain the College in the future.

“The medallion you are about to receive represents a transfer of responsibility to you,” President Raynard Kington said to the first-year students. “Because others made it possible for you to be here, you now have a duty to ensure access to a Grinnell education for those who come after you. One of the greatest strengths of Grinnell is that not only do our students go on to achieve great things in their own lives, but they never forget their roots or the opportunities provided to them by others.”

Kington requested students take a moment to consider the experience they hope to have at Grinnell.

“Think about how you will dedicate yourself to inquiry, intellectual rigor, and critical thought in your studies,” he said. “Think about how you will commit yourself to purpose, responsibility, and justice in your everyday actions. And how you will dedicate yourself to helping those who follow benefit from the same sense of community that you are about to enjoy.”

Eric Mistry ’14 passes out medallions to members of the class of 2023.
Eric Mistry ’14, right, helped pass out medallions to the 463 students who make up the class of 2023.

Incoming students also received advice from two recent alums about how they should approach the next four years. Eric Mistry ’14 said to stay humble, curious, and hopeful.

“There will be tough times, so do not be afraid to ask for help,” he said. “Support one another and keep the community strong. You may have a firm idea of what you want to do, but always explore the unknown. I came in thinking I’d be a biology/studio art major and graduated as a history major who now explores educational technologies.”

Meghna Ravishankar ’17
    Meghna Ravishankar ’17

Originally from India, Meghna Ravishankar ’17 is now director of planning for the World Food Prize Foundation in Des Moines.

“I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived here for orientation, other than the fact that I was going to grow up a little more and learn a few things,” Ravishankar said. “I obviously expected to be pushed academically, but I didn’t really think much about the rest of it. Little did I know that this place and the people I found here would change me, challenge me, teach me, and empower me to become the person I didn’t know I wanted to be.”

Ravishankar also spoke about how social justice will be a big part of the class of 2023’s Grinnell experience.

“It will be instilled in you through every class you take, every conversation you have, and every event you attend,” she said. “You will soon find that Grinnell will equip you with a vocabulary that will allow you to better comprehend the role you play in the communities you are a part of. You will quickly learn what your presence means. You will begin a process of understanding your own intersectional identities as well as those of people around you. …I hope that over the next four years you allow yourself to take a second every now and then to appreciate how far you’ve come and all the brilliant possibilities that are ahead.”

—by Jeremy Shapiro

For your information:

Grinnell College expects to enroll 463 members of the class of 2023. Official enrollment data will not be available until late September, following the College’s official census date.

Here are a few preliminary statistics about the first-year class:

  • 20 different countries and 44 U.S. states are represented
  • 23 percent are domestic students of color
  • 20 percent are international students
  • 63 percent graduated from U.S. public high schools (includes charter schools)
  • 12 percent are the first in their family to attend college
  • 21 percent will be Pioneer varsity athletes

These new Grinnellians were active members of their high schools and communities. Here is a snapshot of the types of high school activities in which they participated:

  • 68 percent were involved in community service activities
  • 67 percent were active in the arts (art, dance, drama, music, speech, or other cultural activities)
  • 62 percent participated in high school athletics or club sports
  • 53 percent held jobs, completed internships, or were involved in other career activities
  • 31 percent served in student government or were active in politics or social justice activities
  • 13 percent were student journalists or participated in high school publications