On May 12, the Class of 2019 rang the Victory Bell and made the official transition from students to alumni at the Commencement ceremony on the Stewart Memorial Library Mall. Coe College President Dave McInally conferred Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees on 288 graduates.
The student speaker for the Class of 2019 was student body president Fatima Elsheikh ’19. A neuroscience and biology major and political science minor, Elsheikh delivered a message of celebration and encouragement to her classmates. She ended her speech with the words, “Kohawks fly together; let’s all fly together and fill this world with hope.”
Father-daughter alumni duo Titus “Kip” Korir ’74 and Karen Korir ’02 gave the Commencement address.
Kip Korir came to Coe as an international student from Kericho, Kenya. During his time at Coe, he had a remarkable track and field career before graduating with Bachelor of Arts degrees in biology and psychology in 1974. Following graduation, he returned to Kenya and spent 34 years working for James Finlays Kenya Ltd. In 2009, he was awarded the Head of State Commendation medal by the president of the Republic of Kenya for his exemplary community work.
Karen Korir graduated cum laude from Coe in 2002 with a major in business administration before earning her Master of Public Administration Aviation from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. In 2015, she became the chief aviation planner of the Houston Airport System where she oversees the planning and programming of all airfield, terminal, landside and support facilities. She was recently featured among Airport Business Magazine’s Top 40 under 40 airport executives.
Kip and Karen Korir wove Coe’s theme — Coe makes it possible. You make it happen. — throughout their Commencement address. “If I hadn’t gone to Coe, everything else I’ve done throughout life wouldn’t have happened,” Kip Korir said.
“Who we are and what we are able to do has everything to do with our planning,” Karen Korir said. “Coe made it possible for us. Go out there and make the impossible happen.”
This year’s baccalaureate speaker was the Rev. Dr. Sherrie Ilg, lead pastor at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids. Ilg graduated from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in 2010 with a Master of Divinity degree and earned her Doctor of Ministry degree in 2018. She joined St. Paul’s in 2010 as an associate pastor and became the lead pastor in 2014.
With their diplomas now in hand, four members of the Class of 2019 share their post-graduation plans.
Terrence Hall ’19 was hired as an IT systems analyst with TrueNorth in Cedar Rapids. Hall started out as an intern with the company in the spring of 2018 after networking with a TrueNorth representative at a career fair organized by Coe's Center for Creativity and Careers (C3). His internship led to a part-time job during his senior year and now a full-time position. Hall feels the computer science courses he took at Coe prepared him well for his new position, and he particularly appreciates the help he received from Assistant Professor of Computer Science Stephen Hughes. “He helped me distinguish good job offers from bad based on my skills, as well as he pushed me all four years at Coe all the way to graduation,” Hall said.
Hall also noted that taking a public speaking course early on in his Coe career was beneficial as well. While he was already comfortable speaking in front of large groups, the course helped him polish his skills and truly excel at public speaking, something he does regularly at TrueNorth. “Every time you have a meeting with someone I consider you to be public speaking, so I get to do it very often.”
Now that he is finished with college, Hall is excited to showcase his social and technical skills in the workforce. He also looks forward to the ability to give back to his family. “Being a first-generation college student, my new income not only allows me to have a new life but I also get to improve the lives of my immediate family as well, and that is exciting for me.”
Jaimee Rindy ’19 will be a creative marketing production intern with CNN in Atlanta, Georgia, this fall. She will gain hands-on experience in a television production role by assisting the creative marketing producers in the idea-generation phase, on the set and in the editing room.
When she was applying for internships, Rindy had a lot of help from career advisor Joe Demarest in Coe’s Center for Creativity and Careers (C3). “Joe was there for me every step of the way, and I often found myself in his office simply to talk out my options and what every opportunity would mean and what I would need to do to be successful in it,” she said. Demarest’s support was especially valuable when Rindy did not initially get the CNN internship, but was chosen as the runner-up. Demarest helped her keep things in perspective and realize there were other possibilities available. “He not only kept me motivated, but kept me calm and reassured me that things would work out, which was something I needed at the time. He was right, of course!”
Rindy took advantage of the ability to build her own major at Coe. With the assistance and encouragement of several professors and her advisor, Esther and Robert Armstrong Assistant Professor of Communication Studies Terri Donofrio, Rindy created a media studies major for herself. Her ultimate career goal is to be a television drama screenwriter and showrunner. Although she knows achieving her dream won’t be easy, Rindy feels prepared for the challenge. “I know that I have all of the amazing friends, faculty and staff from Coe behind me, and that makes the whole process a lot less daunting.”
Nate Ackert ’19 was accepted to an MBA program at Leeds Beckett University in Leeds, England, where he also will compete on the varsity tennis team. He found the opportunity with the help of Men’s Tennis Head Coach Eric Rodgers, who was in contact with an athletic recruiting agency in the United Kingdom. Ackert applied through the agency’s program and was approached by several universities interested in having him play for their tennis teams.
Ackert double majored in business administration and economics at Coe, and he believes this played an important role in his acceptance to the MBA program. “Having experience working through complex models to solve real-world problems, performing research and analyzing data, and computer programming skills were all ways I was able to stand out from others in the application process.” He credits several of his professors, including Ryan Baranowski ’08, Drew Westberg ’05 and Rick Eichhorn, with helping him succeed. “If it weren’t for these professors pushing me to my limits, I would not have learned as much as I did in my time at Coe.”
Ackert is looking forward to another year of playing collegiate tennis, as well as the chance to experience a new level of learning in another country. He is confident the new perspectives he will gain through the MBA program will be beneficial to his career when he returns to the United States.
Isabella Lopez ’19 will participate in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program beginning in July. The JET program is a teaching exchange managed by the Japanese government. Living and working in Japan allows JET participants to serve as cultural ambassadors of the United States. Lopez was granted an annual contract to teach English to school children.
Lopez developed a passion for Japanese language and culture in high school, and Coe allowed her to pursue that passion further. “I loved the fact I could take Japanese classes and study abroad affordably,” Lopez said. “I spent my junior year at Coe’s sister school, Nagoya Gakuin University, in Japan. If it weren’t for Coe, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity.” Lopez also served as a consultant in Coe’s Speaking Center throughout most of her time as a student and completed an internship at the Catherine McAuley Center where she was able to teach English to immigrants from all over the world.
The application and interview process for the JET program was rigorous, but Lopez received plenty of guidance from Kathy Welsh, Coe English as a second language instructor, as well as Professor John Chaimov, director of off-campus study. “Kathy and John provided support throughout the application process. And I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without them.”
Students in Coe College’s new social and criminal justice program began a project in the spring term to fundraise for a Cedar Rapids nonprofit.
Reintegration Initiative for Safety and Empowerment (RISE) is an organization aimed at helping individuals recently released from incarceration foster self-esteem, reduce recidivism, advance a safe community and reduce public expenditures. RISE works with individuals to provide access to food, shelter and transportation. It also provides connections to potential employers and/or substance abuse counseling.
Kohawks enrolled in the introductory class for the social and criminal justice program developed and implemented several ideas to help RISE further its mission. Fundraising projects included selling candy bars and installing donation boxes around campus. Students also partnered with a local restaurant for a “Donation Night” and created a GoFundMe page. In all, students raised over $900 and collected 165 articles of clothing and personal hygiene products.
“Our partnership with Coe College's social and criminal justice program has been beneficial for both RISE and the students,” RISE Program Director Mary Crandall said. “We are so appreciative of the work they did to help our participants.”
“When the social and criminal justice program was created, one of the major objectives was to engage students in the local community,” Coe Visiting Assistant Professor of Social and Criminal Justice Dr. Neal McNabb said. “Our goal is to educate students about social justice issues while also engaging in service to support local community partners.”
Kohawks who took part in the program were able to fundraise for a good cause while also learning how to critically assess how those who have committed crimes are treated in our society. “Having the opportunity to contribute and participate in such a project is a great opportunity to get more involved with our community,” said communication studies major Marion Edwards ’22. “It’s easy to get wrapped up in your everyday life and forget to give back. I’m happy that I was able to work alongside my classmates to donate to RISE and excited to work more with them in the future.”
Emani Brinkman ’21, a Coe College environmental studies, business and economics major, was selected to attend the Bank of America Elevating Careers Diversity & Inclusion Forum in New York City.
This all-expense paid forum provides ethnically diverse first-year and sophomore college students the opportunity to take an in-depth look at the financial services industry. Brinkman was one of 100 students chosen from a pool of over 1,700 applicants.
“The majority of students I met were from Ivy Leagues and the West Coast,” Brinkman said. “It was an honor to be one of only two students from Iowa attending the forum.”
On the first day of the two-day forum, attendees were introduced to career paths Bank of America offers. The day concluded with an opportunity to network with Bank of America professionals and fellow student attendees.
“The second day was all about us,” Brinkman said. Attendees took part in mock interviews, resume-building sessions and personal-branding workshops. Throughout the forum, attendees are encouraged to develop relationships with Bank of America professionals and prepare for the 2020 intern application and interview process.
“I’ve been considering a career in environmental consulting, but this forum showed me career options in the financial services industry,” Brinkman said. “I can see myself in New York. I made a strong connection with a Bank of America recruiter, and I know we’ll keep in touch.”
Brinkman learned of the Bank of America Elevating Careers Diversity & Inclusion Forum through Coe’s Center for Creativity and Careers’ Handshake, an online portal connecting students with alumni, internships and job opportunities. “I was scrolling through Handshake and saw this forum,” Brinkman said.
“I’ve utilized Coe’s Center for Creativity and Careers (C3) since I started at Coe. They helped me with my resume, cover letter and interviewing skills,” Brinkman said. “C3 helped prepare me for this opportunity.”
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Upcoming Alumni Events
June 4 — Celebration of Life: David Mehaffy ’76 — The Coe community continues to grieve the loss of trustee Dr. David Mehaffy, Coe class of 1976, who passed away May 9, 2019. To mark David's great affinity for Coe, a Celebration of Life will be held on Tuesday, June 4 from 3:00-4:00 PM in the Perrine Gallery of the Stewart Memorial Library. The gathering will include memories of David and tributes to the incredible impact he had on everyone in the Coe community. Refreshments will be included.
July 25 - Coe on the RAGBRAI Route - Although RAGBRAI is staying south of Cedar Rapids this year, Coe College will still be on the route! If you'll be riding on Thursday, July 25, be sure to look for our tent in Libertyville, Iowa, from 1:00-4:00 PM for a pit stop.
July 29 — 38th Annual Coe College Golf Athletic Fundraiser — Join us for the Coe Athletic Department’s major annual fundraiser to support Coe's 21 men’s and women’s varsity sports in the American Rivers Conference. We are excited that this event will be hosted at Cedar Rapids Country Club.
Jazz Summit 2024: Grand Finale Concert
Saturday, February 24, 2024
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Jazz Summit 2024 Welcomes You!
Yoga with Darcy
Monday, February 26, 2024
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Clark Racquet Center
Health & Wellness
Join Darcy every Monday from 4-5 pm in the Clark Racquet Center for an hour of yoga, free to all students, faculty, and staff!
Higher Education in Prison Roundtable
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
The Center for Health & Society
Social & Criminal Justice
Roundtable panelists who pursued post-secondary education while incarcerated will discuss the benefits and challenges of college in and after prison, share their experiences and take audience questions. Free and open to all.