Welcoming the class of 2026

August 25, 2022 — Grinnell College Dean Beronda L. Montgomery still vividly remembers her first year of college. 

“I even remember the sheer excitement, and perhaps a bit of nervousness that set deep inside me,” she told the class of 2026 during a welcome ceremony Friday. “At the time, I had a pretty clear picture of where I wanted my education to take me, and it no way ended here at this podium as a professor of plants and college dean.” 

A total of 438 first-year students arrived in Grinnell over the past two weeks from 43 different states and 37 countries ready to begin their Grinnellian journey, whether it takes them on expected or unforeseen paths. The fall semester got underway today (Aug. 25). In total, more than 1,700 Grinnell students from 50 U.S. states and territories and 56 different countries began classes. 

Grinnell College Dean Beronda L. Montgomery, left, and President Anne F. Harris shake hands with first-year students right before they receive a medallion.
Grinnell College Dean Beronda L. Montgomery, left, and President Anne F. Harris shake hands with first-year students right before they receive a medallion.

“I’m excited to meet a whole bunch of people from across the country and the world,” said Thomas Nserko ’26. “My first year will be busy but for good reasons.”

For the second consecutive year, Grinnell College received a record number of applications with a total of 11,568. That’s a 9.3% jump from the previous year and up 300% during the last decade. The College admitted 9.2% of applicants this year.

“Imagine the great power of the 438 of you gathering over the past several days,” Grinnell College President Anne F. Harris said at the welcome ceremony. “You have moved across landscapes and oceans, over borders and boundaries, and through portals and thresholds to be here. You have gathered in a meaningful and powerful place, a typography of prairie undulations and movements, a geography of rich history and vibrant present, and legacies to know and discover.”

The welcome ceremony included the presentation of commemorative medallions to the first-year students. The medallions pay tribute to an important event in the College’s history. On June 10, 1846, James J. Hill, a member of the Iowa Band of abolitionist Congregationalists who came to Iowa from Massachusetts, 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. 

Lily Piede ’26 displays the silver medallion that the 438 students in the class of 2026 received.
Lily Piede ’26 displays the silver medallion that the 438 students in the class of 2026 received.

Since its inception 25 years ago, new students are annually given a silver medallion to commemorate Hill’s gift and signify a responsibility to help sustain the College and our community now and in the future. The medallions have an engraving of the oldest building on campus, Goodnow Hall, on one side and the students’ graduation year on the other.

“It is our pledge to use the endowment of our resources and our abilities to walk with you, learn with and from you, and truly be with you these next four years,” Harris said. “It is our gesture of gathering with you, our emblem of what is possible when we gather, of what we can build and share in our differences and complexities together.”

Prior to fall classes starting, first-year students took part in New Student Orientation (NSO) from Aug. 19-24. NSO included numerous get to know Grinnell activities, such as informational sessions, introductions to campus offices and resources, class photos, and various group interaction and entertainment, such as a silent disco and Hollywood murder mystery.

New international students participated in the International Pre-Orientation Program (IPOP) from Aug. 14-18 prior to NSO. Vietnam native Duc Nguyen ’26 said the experience of getting to know the College community has been great. “Everyone’s been so friendly, and I’ve learned how much the professors care about their students.” 

All of the new students came together at the welcome ceremony where College leaders shared advice and helpful tips.

Montgomery, who also has the title of vice president for academic affairs, told first-years their full success at Grinnell and beyond depends on being engaged in and beyond classes. 

“Over the next four years, I hope the things you learn in and out of the classroom and the experiences you have to stretch your knowledge, your beliefs, and your imagination will lead you to feeling empowered. Empowered to be better. Empowered to exceed your wildest dreams. Empowered to know that true success lies in achieving your goals while simultaneously supportive others in achieving theirs,” she said.

Loyal Terry ’23, Student Government Association president, shared his “secret sauce” for making Grinnell home.

“First, learn to love yourself unconditionally,” he said. “…Second, find balance. Push yourself to be a better version of yourself, and don’t be afraid to evolve into the person that you are meant to become. Third – and this one is important – give grace. Be kind to yourself, hug yourself, and be patient with yourself. Your fourth-year version of you is going to be and should be different than the first-year version of you.”

— by Jeremy Shapiro

For your information:

As of Aug. 23, Grinnell College expects to enroll 438 new students in the fall 2022 semester. Official enrollment data will not be available until September, following the College’s official census date, but here are a few preliminary statistics about the entering class:

  • 29 percent are domestic students of color
  • 19 percent are international students
  • 56 percent graduated from U.S. public high schools (includes charter schools)
  • 16 percent are the first in their family to attend college
  • 23 percent will be Grinnell student-athletes
  • 37 different countries are represented in the class of 2026. The United States, India, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, China, and Brazil have the largest representation.
  • Incoming students hail from 43 different U.S. states.

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:

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

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