E-News - March 5, 2024

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

DJ Patil headlines Coe's 20th Contemporary Issues Forum

Coe was honored to host DJ Patil, first-ever U.S. chief data scientist, at this year's Contemporary Issues Forum on February 8. Check out the videos below to see highlights from DJ Patil's visit to campus and the "lessons learned" from one student, Earvin Dizon '25. You can also read more about the event in the upcoming issue of the Courier.

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Coe College plans for adding engineering degree

Coe College intends to add a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree (pending HLC approval) to its 60+ areas of study beginning in the 2024-25 academic year. 

Employment in engineering fields is projected to grow faster than average over the next decade compared to other occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median wage is also expected to continue to exceed national averages as well, by nearly $40,000.

“This is an exciting development for us at Coe, especially considering the confluence of professional demand, interest in engineering displayed by current and future Kohawks and our internationally well-regarded pre-engineering and physics programs,” said Coe College President David Hayes ’93.

Coe’s Physics Department is already one of the largest and most respected programs in the state of Iowa. For years, Coe graduates have become celebrated engineers across a range of fields, having excelled in physics, chemistry, mathematics and computer science at Coe and entering graduate school on full-ride scholarships. Since 1979, no Coe physics major accepted into graduate school has had to pay for their advanced degree. They have gone on to graduate programs such as Oxford University, MIT and Northwestern University and conducted research at CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider collaboration. 

The existing expertise, connections and technology within the physics program has created a strong foundation for a dedicated engineering physics major, which has been lauded by local business leaders as well.

"We have incredible businesses in the Cedar Rapids area and surrounding communities. Manufacturing continues to be a critical element of our community’s economic success, and strong engineering programs that attract and retain top talent in our community are a must. We are excited to partner with Coe College on their new engineering program and continue to foster the economic and social development of our students and city," said Rocki Shepard, CEO of New Leader Manufacturing.

When the program is approved, engineering students at Coe will have significant advantages:

  • Individualized instruction from skilled research faculty who are globally recognized for their expertise and are the No. 1 Most Accessible Professors in Iowa (No. 7 in the nation) according to The Princeton Review.
  • Elite internship connections locally and globally. Kohawks have interned with Collins Aerospace, NASA, Corning, Inc. and Google, among others. Coe is also ranked as the No. 1 private school for internships in Iowa (No. 12 in the nation) by The Princeton Review.
  • Established research partnerships. Coe is one of just a few small colleges to host a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates site and has received numerous NSF research grants, totaling nearly $15 million.
  • More than $3 million in physics research equipment inside Peterson Hall, where the engineering program will be housed. 

“Our engineering degree will have a significant experiential and interdisciplinary lean, aligning with the requirements for an engineering program and the liberal arts tradition,” said Assistant Professor of Physics Caio Bragatto. “This adds an even deeper level of learning past the technical aspect of engineering — one that will sharpen each students’ critical thinking, creative problem solving and communication abilities — all in high demand in the market and integral in order to excel in the field.”

Kohawks have benefitted from this approach across all disciplines. All Coe students are guaranteed an internship, research project or off-campus study before graduation and, for the past decade, nearly 100% of reporting Coe graduates have been employed or in grad school within nine months of graduation.

Request for approval to offer this new program is underway with the Higher Learning Commission.

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Save the date for Coe's 10th annual Day of Giving

Help us celebrate a decade of generosity on April 11, 2024, for Coe's 10th annual Day of Giving! Because of your generosity, we have been able to support students' lives, contribute to the areas of greatest need on campus and help provide an unmatched college experience. Mark your calendars to continue the impact this year.

Want to start the celebration early? We do too! You can sign up to be a Digital Ambassador to help share the word about this incredible day or reach out to new Assistant Director of the Annual Fund Mégan Valenta. More information will be coming about how you can celebrate and participate in Day of Giving no matter where you are.

Student and Professor at art lab computer

Coe College Art & Visual Studies Department adds new concentration areas

A transformation within the Art & Visual Studies Department at Coe College will continue to provide innovative artists and creative thinkers with a gateway to a multitude of professional opportunities. The department is adjusting its academic degree options to add three new concentrations and a new minor to meet evolving industry needs.

Beginning this fall, students at Coe pursuing an art degree can also choose to add concentrations in multimedia graphic design, media production and non-profit arts and creative leadership. Minors in art history and museum studies are also offered in addition to the traditional art major.

“Creative industries are constantly evolving and we are dedicated to ensuring our students have the tools they need to be successful. These transitions in curriculum and degree outcomes are going to make Kohawk graduates distinctive because they will have gained experiences and developed skills that will make them strong, dynamic leaders and creative thinkers,” said Associate Professor of Art Jennifer Rogers ’03.

Students within the Art & Visual Studies Department will continue to benefit from expert instruction from the No. 7 Most Accessible Professors in the nation according to The Princeton Review. They’ll have opportunities to excel in their fields as undergraduates as C3: Creativity, Careers, Community, the No. 8 Career Services in the nation, connects them with internships and other experiences among Coe’s field stations. In particular, Coe's urban field station is home to a wealth of professional experiences due to proximity to a number of local art galleries, creative agencies and regional art and cultural institutions, including the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.

“Throughout the course of my education, I greatly benefited from interdisciplinary programs like Coe’s that give students the opportunity to work on projects with real-world applications and make connections with professionals in their chosen field. Programs like these let students focus on their areas of interest while gaining the skills they need to be successful and allow them to step confidently into a career in the arts,” said Cedar Rapids Museum of Art Curator of Collections and Exhibitions Julia Jessen.

As a result of an education rich in personal instruction, liberal arts exploration and field experiences, Kohawk art graduates have excelled in their careers. Within the last decade they’ve started their own businesses, created digital content for the NFL, earned graphic design awards, curated collections in New York City, taken leadership positions as marketing directors and restored art in Florence, Italy. These successes are familiar to Coe graduates because over the last decade, nearly 100% of reporting graduates have been employed or in graduate school within nine months of graduation.

“We are thrilled to welcome these new art opportunities on campus. I’m confident students will enjoy having these options to help jumpstart careers while still being able to explore other subjects and be creative in the ways that bring them joy — bringing professional experiences and creativity together is a central element of a Coe experience,” said Coe College President David Hayes ’93.

Volunteer opportunities make meaningful connections — for alumni and students alike

Many Kohawk alumni can testify that sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know. Networking is an essential skill for students to learn as they look toward what their career path and professional connections look like. Thankfully, they are not short on opportunities this semester. Alumni are invited to shape students’ experiences through volunteering at events, and maybe even come away with valuable additions to their own networks.

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Amy Wiederin Bartachek ’98 currently serves as the managing director for Tippie Graduate Career Services at the University of Iowa. This semester, she also wore a dual hat as a guest speaker for the INT-100 professional development course offered by C3: Creativity, Careers, Community. Not only was this an impactful experience for students, it was also incredibly meaningful for Bartachek.

“I deeply care about the future of the institution and the students who will go out into the world. My time at Coe was filled with some wonderful mentors who poured into me and truly cared about my future. They gave of their time and talents to help me grow as a person and a leader,” she said. “I have said many times, I would not be where I’m at today without the leadership opportunities I was able to experience and the people who took the time to invest in me. I want to give that gift to others! I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back to the institution that helped shape me.”

There are many such opportunities on the horizon for alumni to share the gift of their time with Coe and directly impact students.

  • C3’s annual Spring Break Externship is fast approaching, and alumni have the opportunity to attend not one, but two, receptions on March 11 and March 12 to meet students, help them gain connections and learn about the strength of the Coe alumni network. Registration for either reception is open.
  • Not only that, Sip & Socialize has returned! Alumni are invited to come back to Coe on March 27 to help students practice the art of networking and share your experiences. Registration for Sip & Socialize is open, so be sure to reserve your spot.
  • The Student Research and Discovery Symposium on April 10 will be a day of presentations, exhibitions, performances and more that showcase the many creative and scholarly activities Coe students engage in outside of the classroom. The campus community and alumni are invited to the Celebration and Recognition Hour starting at 4:00 p.m. Learn more about Symposium, and check back for the day's schedule.

Have you volunteered with Coe in the past? Tell the Office of Alumni Engagement about your experience!

Katie Ameku and Amber Shaw collaborate on Truman application

From Harry S. Truman’s hometown to Truman Scholarship finalist

Last week, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation named Coe College’s Katie Ameku ’25 as a 2024 Truman Scholarship finalist — she is Coe’s sixth Truman finalist in the last six years.

The foundation awards a $30,000 graduate fellowship to distinguished college students pursuing careers in public service. This year, 709 students across the nation completed the rigorous application process that includes seven essays and a detailed policy proposal. Ameku was among 191 students from 136 colleges and universities shortlisted as a finalist for the prestigious award. 

It would be too easy to assume that because Ameku is from Independence, Missouri — where Truman grew up — she was predestined to be a Truman finalist. But, no. Ameku’s path to the Truman is wholly her own, rooted in her dedication and ideals.

“I feel very excited! I’m ready for the next steps, and of course I’m thankful for all the help Dr. [Amber] Shaw provided, and am grateful for Coe’s endorsement. I’m excited to represent our community and present myself to the Truman board,” Ameku said. 

Since this past summer, Ameku has been prepping her Truman application with National Fellowship Advisor and Associate Professor of English Amber Shaw. They’ve been meeting weekly to brainstorm essay topics and policy proposals, edit drafts and, now, run through mock interviews. Shaw is available to help all Coe students with national fellowship and scholarship applications, including the Goldwater, Fulbright and Gilman. Kohawks earned both a Fulbright and Gilman in the 2022-23 academic year.

Together, they polished the essays and policy proposal that established Ameku’s public service vision. Specifically, Ameku is proposing an amendment to the State of Missouri biology end of course assessment to include a section on misinformation and scientific process.

“It’s great that my work is being recognized, but truly regardless of the Truman or not, this is work that I like to do, and I want to do and will continue to do,” Ameku said.

The work that is the foundation of Ameku’s Truman application is a melding of her academic areas of focus — mathematics, physics and computer science — with her passion for politics. She wants to bridge the gap that exists between policymaking and science. She believes her proposal will help elevate the baseline knowledge threshold in Missouri high schools which will aid in scientific communication down the road.

Currently, Ameku is a committeewoman for the Missouri Democratic Party, representing her neighborhood at the county level and her Senate District at the state level where she is the youngest one in the room by a considerable margin. She regularly drives the four hours to Jefferson City, Missouri and the four hours back to Coe to fulfill her duties, which allows her a front-row seat to party decisions in the Missouri capitol.

“Science and public policy seem far apart, but there are places where they intermingle and they intermingle well. While not every policymaker needs to be a scientist, I think scientists need to be at the table with policymakers,” Ameku said.

Shaw believes that intersection of science and politics is exactly why Ameku’s Truman application stands out. She noted the Truman committee often sees outstanding scientists and outstanding politicians, but an outstanding scientist politician is rare.

“What sets Katie apart is her combined interests in science and politics and how those two can and should work together for the greater good,” Shaw said.

For now, Ameku and Shaw will continue refining her remarks and interview skills in anticipation of the final step in the Truman process — a March 20 interview at the Kansas City Federal Reserve.

Of the six finalists in the last six years, Coe has had two students earn Truman Scholarships, Kelly May ’19 in 2018 and Larrisa Alire ’20 in 2019.

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Courier Class Notes deadline April 1

Do you have news you would like printed in the summer Courier? You can share your news through filling out the update your information form online or by sending an email to courier@coe.edu. Submissions are due by April 1 for inclusion in the coming Courier issue.

Class News is accessible in real time, all year long on Coe Connect, and you can read updates from your fellow Kohawks from the convenience of your device.

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International Banquet opens its doors to alumni and the community

Celebrating its 50th year, the International Banquet invites you to experience culinary culture from around the world on Sunday, April 7. Coe College’s own International Club (known as I-Club) hosted the first International Banquet in 1974 for the Coe community. Each year, its members prepare a buffet-style dinner consisting of foods from their home countries and nations. The banquet presents Coe’s robust population of international students with an opportunity to share their culture through the culinary arts. The International Banquet is the second of I-Club’s signature annual events, coupled with their Culture Show in the fall. Alumni and community members are invited to reserve their place to join a student to prepare their dish or simply attend to enjoy incredible food and fellowship.

Upcoming & Virtual Events

There are always ways for the Coe alumni community to be involved with Coe and events on campus. You can stream music events and athletic home games from wherever you are, and stay up-to-date on the Coe calendar to find other interesting and exciting events.

In addition to the I-Club Banquet on April 7 and Day of Giving on April 11, not to mention the many volunteer opportunities for alumni to network with current Coe students, alumni are invited to the following events:

March 24: Student Alumni Association Easter Egg Hunt — Coe faculty, staff and alumni are invited to bring their children to Coe the Sunday before Easter from 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. The annual Easter Egg Hunt is open to children ages one to 10, and snacks and drinks will also be available. RSVP to take part.

April 27: Spring Choral Showcase — There are several ways to participate in this inaugural event hosted by Coe's music program. Any Coe alumni who were involved in a choral ensemble have the opportunity to participate to sing one song with our three choral groups (Concert Choir, Coe Sho Cho and A-Coe-Pella). The full evening includes dinner, a show and dessert — alumni can sign up to participate as a singer, an audience member, a dinner attendee or as a combination of all three.