E-News - November 2, 2021

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

Homecoming 2021: Home Sweet Coe

Kohawks happily flocked to campus for this year’s Homecoming festivities. After a hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, alumni were more than ready to return to their beloved Coe College to catch up and reminisce with old friends. Three outstanding Kohawks were honored with awards, two classes of Hall of Fame honorees were inducted and the Classes of 1970 and 1971 celebrated their golden reunion.


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Justin Nylin ’13, Paula Ginder Lentz ’89 and Heather Daniels ’95 were honored with awards at Homecoming 2021

Nominate an outstanding Kohawk for an award!

Do you know a Kohawk who is “making it happen”? Tell us about them!

Each year, the Coe College Alumni Council proudly presents the Alumni Award of Merit, Distinguished Service Award and Young Alum Award to exceptional alumni and friends of the college. Award candidates are Kohawks who:

  • Excel in their professional field.
  • Volunteer in their community.
  • Give back to Coe through volunteer service and/or financial support.

If you know someone who deserves an award, or if you would like to nominate yourself, simply click on the corresponding link below. Nominations must be submitted by January 1, 2022.

Alumni Award of Merit
Distinguished Service Award
Young Alum Award


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Coe College earns top rankings from multiple national publications

Year after year, national publications take notice of Coe College. With 100% of students guaranteed an internship, research program or off-campus study experience, it’s no wonder Coe stands as one of the best colleges in the nation again this fall. In fact, Coe remains the only Iowa college or university — public or private — to be ranked in the best schools for internships and best alumni network categories among private colleges by The Princeton Review.

Coe also has earned accolades from:

  • The Princeton Review: Top 200 Best Value Colleges, Best 387 Colleges, #10 Best Schools for Internships and #20 Best Alumni Network among private schools
  • Niche: #4 Best College in Iowa, Best Liberal Arts Colleges in America, Best Colleges in America
  • U.S. News & World Report: Top Performers on Social Mobility, Best National Liberal Arts College
  • Washington Monthly: Top Liberal Arts College based on contributions to the public good
  • Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education: Best U.S. Colleges
  • Forbes: America’s Top Colleges

A comprehensive approach to student support services contributes to Coe’s top rankings. Kohawks have access to on-campus academic, personal, professional and wellness resources. Coe’s holistic living and learning environment recently has been enhanced with the addition of the Office of Student Success & Persistence. The new office was created to help first-year students successfully navigate the transition to Coe and through graduation.

Coe’s support services produce confident and skilled Kohawks ready to step into the world. For the past decade, reporting Coe graduates have been employed, in graduate school or involved in service opportunities nearly 100% of the time within nine months of graduation. The national average is 83%.


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Martha Hughes ’12

Coe alumna and Fulbright recipient Hughes advocates for Navajo Nation students

“Hey, we're going on a band trip to China in two weeks, and we need an oboe player. Do you have a passport?” asked Alma A. Turechek Professor of Music and Coe College Director of Bands William Carson.

Martha Hughes ’12 was on the other end of this phone call the summer before her first year at Coe. Besides being one of her earliest memories of Coe, it also is one of her fondest. Little did she know this trip foreshadowed a series of travels she would embark on because of Coe that would help her find the courage to fight for others.

The New Mexico native with family roots in Iowa and Minnesota turned to the Midwest for college with her sights set on strong English and world languages departments, a strong community and the chance to play the oboe.

Hughes’ interest in languages stems from her childhood on Navajo Nation (Diné) and her older sister’s Diné lessons. Her sister and babysitter made up a game where together they taught Hughes basic Navajo like numbers and colors to help her sister retain what she was learning. Because Hughes’ parents worked for the Indian Health Service, by the time she was enrolled to attend school on Navajo Nation, Hughes had a solid foundation in Diné to use in the classroom.

“I had that very early exposure to another language — especially with Navajo, it's a very difficult language. It's very tonal as well, and so when I went to kindergarten and beyond and we had Navajo language components to our classes, I was able to fit in and sort of keep up,” she said.

The early exposure to another language blossomed into a passion by the time she enrolled at Coe. During Hughes’ four years at Coe, she was a tutor, German Club member, editor for the Coe world language poetry journal Babel and a Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Lunch Buddy Program. She double majored in English and German and completed a May Term at Standing Rock. She also participated in her first of many study opportunities in Germany through a Coe exchange program.

“It was a great experience to live and study there. It helped solidify that I wanted to go back and spend more time in Germany,” she said.

Her wish was granted with a Fulbright U.S. Student Program presentation led by Retired Professor of English and National Fellowship Advisor Ann Struthers.

“It was the first spark. I thought this could really help me continue learning the language. I knew this would give me experience in the classroom, and even though I didn’t study to become an educator I wanted to see if that was the kind of direction that I might want to go in,” she said.

At the time, Hughes was contemplating applying to graduate school for English to become an English professor. But advice concerning the time and financial commitment in graduate studies, prompted Hughes to apply to the Fulbright program. She received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Germany — only 20 miles away from Hughes’ first exchange program through Coe.

The Fulbright experience helped Hughes confirm she was comfortable in the classroom. After returning to New Mexico, she interned at Albuquerque Academy. She earned a master’s degree in intercultural education, migration and multilingualism from Karlsruhe University of Education in 2016.

The graduate program gave Hughes a strong foundation to pursue a career in education. She was a substitute teacher for Albuquerque Public Schools for a year and later taught college and career readiness courses at a Navajo Nation high school for three years.

“I felt like it really was an opportunity for me to go back to serve a community like the one that raised me. It's a small school so I really got to know the students. I enjoyed giving back to students and the community that I care so much about,” she said.

Hughes closed the classroom door and stepped into community action to advocate for students. She recently became the adults in education manager at United Way of Central New Mexico leading projects to advance educational initiatives and break barriers in partnership with higher education institutions and businesses.

Hughes credits her Coe liberal arts education for empowering her to try different life and work experiences to find what she wanted to do. In the end, Hughes found who she wanted to be.

“Coe gave me the opportunity to bring all aspects of my life together to be dedicated to anti-racism and advocate for more representation for my students, school systems and colleges. I want to be a support for students so they can lead the future,” 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.


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Save the Date: Giving Tuesday is November 30!

Whether you give your time through volunteering, make a financial gift or use the power of your voice in your local community, #GivingTuesday is a day to unite, celebrate and give back.

Coe is proud to participate in #GivingTuesday again this year. On November 30, we ask you to support the college in our ongoing efforts to expand services available to students through campus resources such as the Office of Health and Wellness, the Learning Commons and our new Office of Student Success & Persistence, to name just a few.  We believe college is more than an education, and Coe is proof that student-campus symbiosis is the key to student recruitment, retention and success.

Busy on November 30? Make your gift early and it will count on Giving Tuesday.


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Amanda Moore ’97

Kohawk’s debut poetry book is a 2020 National Poetry Series winner

In the silent stillness of dawn, Amanda Moore ’97 surfs the frigid and thunderous crash of the Pacific Ocean waves. While others relish their last few hours of sleep, Moore’s heart races with creativity pulsing from the ocean and into her eager fingertips ready to write.

“I go to the ocean every morning. I’m a native Midwesterner, and I never thought I would fall in love with the ocean. I only came to the beach a few times a year growing up, but now I live five blocks from the ocean. I have a deep relationship with the ocean these days,” Moore said.

She sits to write and read poetry after surfing. As a teacher, the early hours of the morning are a significant part of her artistic process. This time alone largely contributed to Moore writing her first manuscript. “Requeening” is a collection of bee poems and a 2020 National Poetry Series winner. Bees are the overarching metaphor representing motherhood, matriarchy and grief through elements of prose, poetry and lyric essay.

Fate would have Moore receive such good tidings from the ocean — Ocean Vuong that is.

“I was teaching one morning, and I kept getting these missed phone calls from a number I didn’t recognize. I listened to a voicemail of Ocean Vuong calling, and I just knew at that moment what it was. I burst into tears. I was so excited. It's been a long time coming,” she said. “To have Ocean in particular be the judge who selected my work was very meaningful. He’s the most generous soul, and I’m interested in his work with poetry and nonfiction. My book has some of those hybrids.”

It was a big deal for Moore to be recognized by Vuong for a number of reasons. First, Vuong is a critically acclaimed poet, essayist and novelist. Secondly, the manuscript is the first collection of poems Moore wrote following a break from writing after earning an MFA in poetry from Cornell University. Her previous work has been published in journals and anthologies, but for the years that followed, Moore focused on her teaching career, got married, bought a house and raised her daughter.

“It took me a while to find my way back to poetry. When I did I got very serious. I spent a whole summer really intensely working on this manuscript. Poetry has always been a present force in my life. It’s how I process the world and how I see things and think. I never stopped reading and writing poetry, even when I took a break from publishing,” she said.

“Peanut butter, peanut butter / how you make my heart a flutter” is one of Moore’s earliest works from the third grade. She first was mesmerized by the sound and rhythm of poetry as a child in Chicago. She continued to enjoy poetry throughout the years, but it wasn’t until she arrived at Coe College that it ignited a lifelong passion.

“I remember being in the Stewart Memorial Library and reading. I was really into the women poets and the ways they were able to voice the particular experiences of their lives. There was sound and music in their work. Coe was a place where I began thinking about the formal aspects of poems and thought more about the content and how to push,” Moore said.

Coe turned out to be an immersive experience beyond the pages of a book. It turned her onto the craft of writing. Moore was in Professor Emeritus of English Charles Aukema’s workshops for a year where she wrote alongside experimental poets for the first time.

“They were definitely all writing in free verse, using the page in new ways, pushing boundaries, and that was very mind-opening to me. It’s fun to think of myself from third grade to now as someone who is always changing and exploring,” she said.

Whether it was evolving as a reader in a Victorian literature class or discovering her favorite poet is William Butler Yates because of a seminar with Wendy Bashant, Moore continues to fall back on the readings and lessons she learned at Coe.

As a matter of fact, she safeguards her history of English notes from Whipple Professor Emeritus of English Bob Drexler’s class, and she reflects on her courses with Professor Emeritus of English and African American Studies James H. Randall when she teaches “Beloved” in her own classroom. Not to mention, she revisits the works from French essayist Michel de Montaigne that she read in her writing seminar with Armstrong Professor Emeritus of Rhetoric Bob Marrs.

“I don’t remember what I read in high school, but I remember everything from Coe, particularly the professors and the relationships I had with them. Forming those close relationships with professors who were really interested in my work as a writer and development as a human was really key to my success,” she said.

The power of these mentorships extended outside of the classroom and into her experience working in the Coe Writing Center with then-director Bob Marrs. He traveled with students to attend conferences, presentations and workshops. Later, Bob Drexler was responsible for helping Moore teach at a university in Thailand for a year after graduation.

“Both of them really gave me a sense of how writing can exist in a world outside of college, what a profession and a writing life can look like,” she said.

Moore graduated from Coe with English and Spanish majors and a writing minor.

“I always urge my students to look at small liberal arts colleges. Those intimate relationships in a school help you connect with the campus community,” she said.

In addition to teaching, Moore is a board member for the Marin Poetry Center and co-editor for Poetry Sunday at Women’s Voices for Change. She is writing a new manuscript with water poems guided by her daily early morning surfing, and she is translating Costa Rican poetry books she collected from her Coe study abroad term to Costa Rica.

“Requeening” is printed by HarperCollins Publishers and was released for sale on October 26, 2021. Details about virtual and in-person book events are available at www.amandapmoore.com/new-events.


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Arts@Coe announces vibrant 2021-2022 schedule

A full slate of events will showcase Coe College talent and renowned performers as part of the Arts@Coe season. This year’s schedule features ensembles, musicals, plays, artists and speakers.

The 2021-2022 Arts@Coe season includes:

  • Music: Across jazz, band, symphony orchestra and vocal performances, the Coe College Music lineup covers the spectrum of musical tastes. The iconic Homecoming Showcase Concert held on October 22 and the Coe Christmas Convocation and Vespers coming up on November 30 at 11:00 AM and 7:00 PM present Coe’s full array of ensembles.
  • Marquis Series: There are two musical guests remaining in the 2021-2022 Marquis Series. Deaf American jazz singer and songwriter Mandy Harvey takes the stage on November 5 at 7:00 PM. Mad River Theater Works is bringing one of the most critical events in the Civil Rights Movement to Coe on February 2 at 7:00 PM with a production of “Freedom Riders.”
  • Theater: Heartbreaking, funny and thought-provoking describes the true stories adapted for Coe College Theatre Arts productions. Performances of “The Living” wrapped up at the end of October. “Fun Home” opens in February while performances for “The Revolutionists” kick off in April.  
  • Thursday Forum: The 2021-2022 Thursday Forum season is in full swing with engaging faculty-facilitated sessions remaining on Jane Austen, politics of pandemics, biodiversity, glass research, college-in-prison programs and Brexit.
  • Visual arts: Coe’s Sinclair Art Galleries will be packed with faculty and senior thesis exhibitions in the fall and spring. Opening receptions celebrating graduating studio art students take place on December 3 and April 8 and 22 at 5:00 PM.

The full 2021-2022 Arts@Coe schedule and event details are available at www.coe.edu/artsatcoe.


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Coe College Theatre Arts 2021-2022 season

Between a Tony Award-winning musical to the Reign of Terror in France, Coe College Theatre Arts is proud to produce true stories adapted for the stage.

The 2021-2022 productions are:

“The Living,” written by Anthony Clarvoe and directed by Dr. Dennis Barnett. October 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30
A disease is spreading and killing everyone it strikes. People who haven't fled to the country and haven't been forced into quarantine are wearing masks and keeping each other at a distance. In the meantime, the systems that hold society together are falling apart. Written during the AIDS crisis, death may be lurking at the edges of this account of London in the 17th century, but at its center is life filled with fortitude and compassion.


“Fun Home,” adapted by Lisa Kron, music by Jeannine Tesori, directed by Dr. Dennis Barnett. February 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19
Winner of the 2015 Tony Award for Best Musical and the first Broadway musical with a lesbian protagonist, “Fun Home” was adapted from Alison Bechdel's graphic autobiography of the same name. With what has been called "the finest score in a decade," “Fun Home” utilizes narration by the main character Allison as she discovers her own sexuality and the mysteries of her upbringing.

“The Revolutionists,” written by Lauren Gunderson and directed by Katherine Hahn. April 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16
Lauren Gunderson, one of the most produced playwrights in America in the past five years, follows four women fighting for freedom and feminism in France during the Reign of Terror. The playwright Olympe de Gouge, Haitian rebel Marianne Angelle, assassin Charlotte Corday and infamous former queen Marie Antoinette take the audience on a wild ride, grappling with everything from art to activism.

All productions are presented in Dows Theatre at Coe. Performances begin at 7:30 PM, except for Sunday performances, which start at 2:00 PM.

General admission tickets are $15 for adults or $10 for non-Coe students 18 and younger and seniors 55 and older. Admission is free for Coe College students, faculty and staff.

For tickets, go to www.coe.edu/box-office or call the Coe College Box Office at 319.399.8600. Handicapped-accessible seating is available, please call the box office for assistance.

For more information go to www.coe.edu/academics/majors-areas-study/theatre-arts/productions.


Community and Civic Engagement at Coe

Engaging with the surrounding community and understanding civic responsibility includes being informed, reflecting and responding. Coe students have multiple opportunities to become involved and make an impact. One example is the nonpartisan group, CoeVotes.


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Kent Herron

Herron invites alumni to Aspen

Kent Herron encourages alumni to join him March 13-17, 2022, for a grand reunion of a half century of Coe College skiing in Aspen! Doc has been skiing with his students in Aspen since 1972. He is excited about the opportunity to see all of them once more and celebrate old times as well as create some new memories. And he’d like to do it while he still can ski.

Details and registration are available at www.alumni.coe.edu/kentherronaspen!


Important Dates and Upcoming Events

November 30 — Giving Tuesday — #GivingTuesday is a day to unite, celebrate and give back. Coe is proud to participate again this year with a focus on expanding student services on campus. If you are busy on November 30, make your gift early and it will count on Giving Tuesday.