E-News - June 3, 2021

Coe College E-News — Updates and information for alumni, parents and friends of Coe

Coe announces name of future Center for Health and Society

At their May meeting, the Coe College Board of Trustees unanimously approved a motion to name Coe’s future Center for Health and Society (CHS) after Dave and Janice McInally. Dave served as Coe’s 15th president from July 2013 until his retirement at the end of 2020 and currently serves as chancellor of the college.

Dave was instrumental in creating the college’s current strategic plan, A Bolder Coe, of which the CHS is a critical component. “The CHS is truly Dave’s vision, one of the many distinctive ideas he spearheaded throughout his transformative leadership of the college. Coe has benefited tremendously from Dave and Janice’s service, and we are excited to honor them in this very fitting and meaningful way,” Coe Board of Trustees Chair Ken Golder ’82 said.

The CHS will make Coe the most attractive college or university option for students interested in entering the health care industry. The CHS will be located in a new facility connected to Peterson Hall, and the college plans to break ground on the facility this fall. Watch for more information about the CHS in the upcoming Summer Courier.

Funding for the CHS has come in the form of several generous lead gifts from alumni and friends of the college, as well as a $700,000 challenge grant from the Hall-Perrine Foundation of Cedar Rapids. Future gifts will help Coe vastly improve the capabilities and possibilities of the CHS and will further enhance the learning experience for students. To contribute to the success of the CHS, go to www.alumni.coe.edu/centerforhealthandsociety.

Coe Kids on Course Scholarship

New Coe Kids on Course Scholarship to begin fall 2022

Coe College is proud to introduce the Coe Kids on Course Scholarship beginning fall 2022. The college is partnering with the Zach Johnson Foundation to provide a renewable award of $36,000 per year to eligible incoming Kids on Course students who meet admission and renewal criteria.

Kids on Course places more than 1,000 underserved children in the Cedar Rapids Community School District on the path to post-secondary success, including the option of a nationally ranked liberal arts college education. Coe has the experience to nurture these scholars, as 40% of the college’s fall 2020 class are first-generation students, and there is a strong student-centered environment built to support students on their academic and personal development journey.

Coe College and Kids on Course (KOC) have been partnering for several years during a KOC Day at Coe for the program’s sixth-grade students, which allowed those students to experience a college campus first-hand and further envision themselves as a college student.

“This scholarship is a natural continuation of our partnership with KOC, and we are thrilled to continue working with an organization that is as passionate as we are about the impact of higher education. Creating opportunities for everyone to have access to the benefits of a liberal arts education is an important priority for us,” said Interim President David Hayes ’93.

In addition to the scholarship, Coe will ensure each student has a path to success via a holistic learning environment in and out of the classroom with a variety of academic and mentorship opportunities. The Learning Commons houses tutors, a writing center, study resources and speech consultants while the TRIO Academic Achievement Program and College Possible provide additional coaching support.

“As a 2004 Coe College graduate, I love the idea that we are opening doors for our Kids on Course students to be able to experience the amazing opportunities Coe has to offer not only to them but also their families and our community,” said KOC Program Director Cassie Mitvalsky ’04.

The Coe Kids on Course College Scholarship program will be funded through the college’s fundraising efforts. If you are interested in expanding access to education through financial support of these scholarships, please contact Associate Vice President for Advancement Barb Ernst Tupper ’89 at Coe College at 319.399.8662 or btupper@coe.edu.

The Zach Johnson Foundation was formed in 2010 by Cedar Rapids native and PGA Tour professional Zach Johnson and his wife, Kim. The foundation’s Kids on Course program provides tutoring, parent engagement, summer learning and mentoring opportunities to Cedar Rapids Community School District students.

C3 logo.png

Coe students gain experience and connect with alumni through summer internships

This year, The Princeton Review ranked Coe 10th nationally on its list of Best Schools for Internships in the private college category, as well as 20th for Best Alumni Network among private colleges. In keeping with those rankings, nearly 50 Coe students are completing internships this summer, and many of them are making connections with Coe alumni in the process.

Piper Cooper ’22 is an economic development, research and workforce intern with the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance. She assists with projects focused on economic development, workforce recruitment and retention, as well as research and analytics for Cedar Rapids and the surrounding areas. She interacts with many members of the Economic Alliance team, including Membership Growth Specialist Anne Laugen ’91. Cooper is learning not only how to collect data and conduct market research but also how to analyze, apply and present her findings.

Cooper has been pleased with how well her Coe coursework in political science and economics has helped her understand and participate in the work and research happening at the Economic Alliance. With the solid foundation Coe has given her, she has been able to make the most of her internship. “I've loved every day here, and I've been continuing to learn so much about helping the community grow and prosper in economic development and have been a part of an incredible team of people who have already allowed me to grow, ask questions and help their organization’s mission. … I can't wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store!” she said.

Caroline Strauel ’22 is spending her summer shadowing Dr. Benge Tallman ’04 at UnityPoint – St. Luke’s Hospital. Tallman is a clinical psychologist who specializes in rehabilitation and health psychology, and Strauel is observing his interactions with patients, as well as assisting him with the setup, maintenance and implementation of therapeutic virtual reality headsets. She also gets to see the behind-the-scenes administrative aspects of delivering care in a hospital setting.

Strauel plans to attend graduate school for health psychology, and several of her professors recommended she reach out to Tallman about an internship. Prior to his current position at St. Luke’s, Tallman was a psychology professor at Coe and has helped Strauel create learning goals and objectives to prepare her for graduate school. “Any time an undergraduate student can get hands-on, practical experience is really critical,” Tallman said. “Caroline is not only gaining experience and understanding what it’s like to be a health psychologist, but also the many other health care providers in the hospital.”

Strauel already has learned a lot at her internship and appreciates the opportunity to see health psychology in action. “I feel very privileged to be able to sit in on Dr. Tallman's patient sessions and have been able to see different interventions that I have heard about for years practiced before me.  It has been enriching to view such a strong, collaborative health care team as an undergraduate student intern,” she said.

Kailey Blunk ’22 is learning about the inner workings of nonprofits in her internship with Waypoint Services, an organization providing support and resources to individuals experiencing domestic violence, homelessness and poverty, or those who have been impacted by violent crime. Blunk assists the resource development and marketing team with awareness campaigns, event coordination, marketing efforts and volunteer engagement. Her internship inspired her to organize a donation drive for Waypoint at the Starbucks location where she works part time.

Blunk had plenty of Coe resources in her corner when she pursued the internship. “My professors and C3: Creativity, Careers, Community supported me through the application and interview process, making sure I felt qualified and empowered,” she said. That support is one of the reasons Waypoint Event & Volunteer Manager Brittany Appleton ’16 is always happy to have Kohawk interns on the team. “I appreciate working with Coe students because C3 does a great job helping them develop goals for the experience prior to starting to make sure they are getting the most out of the experience,” she said. “Coe students have been a great asset to Waypoint, serving as volunteers and interns in many different capacities throughout our organization. When they have a good experience with us, they are quick to share that experience with others, which leads to more interest in our opportunities and the work that we do. We truly value our partnership with Coe College.”

Cooper, Strauel and Blunk are just a few of the students who are benefiting from internships where they can learn from Coe alumni. Any alumni interested in recruiting Coe students for internships or jobs are encouraged to contact C3 Director of Careers Nanci Young at nyoung@coe.edu.

Shayla James.jpg

Inspiring communities with the power of music

Shayla James ’13 can’t imagine her life without music. After all, she’s played the piano since she was six years old.

In fifth grade, James picked up a viola during a presentation from a string quartet visiting her school. She stroked the strings with the bow and immediately decided to join the school orchestra. Naturally, she also began playing the violin shortly after. Fast forward to her senior year at Coe College and James was asked if she was interested in conducting the college orchestra for a show.

“It was special because it was the orchestra I had been a part of for the last four years. I will always have the memory of conducting the ensemble I was a member of,” she said.

Her talent and musical and academic experiences paved the way for a thriving career. As a teaching artist, she’s composing music, collaborating with artists, researching, advocating for the arts and running her own business in San Diego, California.

“I would have never imagined that I'd be doing some of the things I'm doing. Music and the arts have always been in my life in some way so I knew I wanted to keep music present,” she said.

James double majored in piano performance and political science. Her two worlds collided in a Cuban politics class where James was introduced to ethnomusicology, the cultural and social study of music. This encouraged her to pursue graduate studies at the University of California San Diego.

“I had no idea this world existed. I knew I had an interest in research because I loved looking up the history of the composers and pieces I was playing, but it was really awesome to learn that you can talk about music and culture. I was able to explore a different area of academia at Coe,” James said.

This academic background propelled James to be civically engaged while managing her career as a professional musician. For the past two years, James has been a research analyst with Rise Research & Evaluation. The firm focuses on arts assessments to support grant funding for nonprofit organizations. She advocates for the arts with a coalition of artists and organizations as the chair of Rising Arts Leaders San Diego. Most recently, she spoke with the San Diego city council to stop budget cuts for the arts.

“We wanted to make it clear the arts matter. It was fascinating and energizing to speak in front of the city council about my experience as an artist. The arts are people’s livelihoods, and cutting budgets not only affects the programs people participate in, but it affects communities, too,” she said.

The thrill of the experience is only rivaled by her collaboration with the dance company Disco Riot. Last year, she composed original music for two videos in a social and racial justice dance series called Move American.

“This project was really special to me because I was able to collaborate with a fellow Black woman to create one of the videos. It centered around Black women and our intersectional identities,” she said.

When James isn’t composing or performing, she’s providing private lessons for students across the country as the owner of Sempre Music Studio. Her multidisciplinary career with music is precisely why James chose a liberal arts education versus a conservatory or state school.

“Coe felt like home. I really enjoyed the one-on-one interaction with professors. I felt like I could really breathe and focus on the things I wanted to focus on. Coe allowed me to experiment with my different interests and ultimately gave me a path for how I can use music and politics in my life,” James said.

She was the chair of music fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon and performed with the symphony orchestra, chorale and handbell choir. She was a diversity mentor for new students and a conversation partner for international students.

James doesn’t plan to slow down. She has her heart set on composing more music and collaborating with more artists. Ultimately, she hopes to continue advocating for the arts and start her own nonprofit organization. She wants to inspire fellow artists with a philosophy she shares with her students.

“Think of your voice. It doesn’t matter if you're playing someone else's composition or you're playing your own music. It's good to learn from other performers, but don't forget that your voice matters,” she said.

We love to see our Kohawks making headlines for their accomplishments and contributions to their communities. Check out these alumni who recently made the news.

FYE photo.jpg

Open the doors of opportunity with your gift today

During this unprecedented year, your gifts have provided Coe the flexibility to pivot at a moment’s notice in response to the ever-changing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. The support of alumni, parents and friends has helped us make the right choices to keep our Coe community safe and thriving.

Throughout the pandemic, Coe spared no expense to protect students, faculty and staff — we implemented socially distanced classrooms, ensured all students had access to necessary technology and most importantly, provided additional financial aid to students who needed it. These measures have had a significant financial impact on the college, and in light of this challenging year, the needs of our students have never been greater.

Annual gifts make an incredible impact, and your support will continue to strengthen the future of Coe College and prepare our students for whatever challenges and opportunities they may encounter. Please consider a gift today to open the doors of opportunity for Coe students.

Crystal Maldonado.jpg

Empathy drives Coe grad to earn Critical Language Scholarship

The desire to help others runs so deep for Crystal Maldonado ’21 that it is driving her to learn a fourth language — Swahili. Fortunately, she is getting support in the form of a Critical Language Scholarship.

Maldonado, who already speaks Spanish, French and English, spent a lot of her time outside of class volunteering pre-COVID-19, including at the Catherine McAuley Center. The women’s center provides educational services for immigrants and refugees, and Maldonado noticed many spoke Swahili.

“At the time, I was not aware of what the language was, but once I learned it was Swahili, I became determined to learn,” Maldonado said.

“As a daughter of an immigrant, I know how frustrating it can be to attempt to learn English and adapt to American culture,” she continued. “I am hoping with another language under my belt that I am able to be a greater asset in helping individuals communicate within our community.”

That empathy drove her to apply for the Critical Language Scholarship. Sponsored by the United States Department of State, the program funds students who want to study one of 15 critical need languages that are imperative to national security and economic prosperity. It’s a very competitive scholarship, with an acceptance rate of around 10%. Only about 600 students are awarded each year, and the scholarship covers all associated costs of the program.

The program itself is a summer immersion experience along with rigorous academic instruction. Typically, it involves travel abroad to native-speaking countries, but due to COVID-19 there will be no travel this year.

So Maldonado’s experience will be all virtual, beginning with orientation June 1 and live class sessions via Zoom lasting through July 30. She will be engaging with course material for four hours each day, with language partner sessions and cultural activities on top of that.

“I am looking forward to failing and getting back up to try again. I know this journey will not be easy, and I don’t expect to make excuses for myself,” Maldonado said.

Coe College Foreign Language Department Chair John Chaimov and Assistant Professor of Spanish Martha Torres Méndez provided integral support for Maldonado as she weighed whether to apply for the scholarship or not.

“I was dubious at first … without them, I never would have applied,” she said.

As for the future, expect Maldonado to remain dedicated to alleviating the anxiety nonnative speakers endure daily. She might even learn a fifth — or sixth — language.

“I do want to assist or work in the field of refugee services. I absolutely love helping people and hope to learn more languages in the next few years to help teach English or other languages at no cost,” Maldonado said.

Marquis Series

Marquis Series events to return next academic year

The stage was quiet and the lights were dimmed in Sinclair Auditorium this past year, as the Coe College Marquis Series suspended events for the 2020-21 year due to the pandemic. Fortunately, the pause was only temporary.

Known for a long tradition of lively lectures and captivating performances, the series will return for a complete season during the 2021-22 academic year.

For decades, Coe has hosted nationally renowned speakers, musicians, dancers, filmmakers and theater and comedy troupes as part of the Marquis Series. Open to Coe students, staff, faculty and the entire Cedar Rapids community, the Marquis Series provides access to nationally and internationally acclaimed talent.

Some of the most memorable recent events include a 2017 appearance by renowned television host, lecturer and comedian W. Kamau Bell, who fascinated audiences in Sinclair Auditorium. Laughs were easy to come by during a 2019 performance by The Second City, the famed Chicago-based comedy group. Also in 2019, a Cirque Zuma Zuma performance kept audience members on the edge of their seats with acrobatics, contortionists and dances. In early 2020, Madonna Thunder Hawk took the stage following a screening of the documentary “Warrior Women,” which presented the story of her lifelong career fighting for Native sovereignty.

“There is a great appreciation for the variety and talent of the events the Marquis Series has brought to Coe’s campus,” said Marquis Series Committee Chair and William P. and Gayle S. Whipple Associate Professor of Humanities Brie Swenson Arnold. “It’s our intention to continue that tradition by hosting intellectually and culturally enriching events that will inform and entertain a variety of audiences.”

The lineup for next season includes three exciting and edifying events. Prominent animal behavior scientist and autism advocate Dr. Temple Grandin will speak on Sept. 23, while deaf American singer and songwriter Mandy Harvey will perform Nov. 5. Harvey was a contestant during the 12th season of “America’s Got Talent.” On Feb. 2, Mad River Theater Works will present “Freedom Riders,” a musical and theatrical exploration of an important chapter in the history of the Civil Rights Movement.
The Marquis Series was created by a gift from the estate of Sarah Marquis, Class of 1918, in honor of her father, Dr. John A. Marquis, who was president of Coe College from 1909-1920. Information about the series is available here.

Upcoming Events

July 29 — 39th Annual Coe College Golf Outing Kohawk Club Athletic Fundraiser — Join us for the Coe Athletic Department’s major annual fundraiser to support Coe's 26 men’s and women’s varsity sports in the American Rivers Conference. We are excited to host this year’s event at Hunters Ridge Golf Course in Marion, Iowa. Registration and payment are due by July 15.