The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

A Different Type of Grinnell Family

As rented cars pull up to the guest parking lot for Family Weekend, many parents will depend on following their kids around from one building to another. A few parents, however, will be overcome with a sense of nostalgia as they, too, remember going to Grinnell. Though students today may look back fondly on procrastinating in the Grill or admiring the view of Gates Tower from the East campus wedges, alumni parents may recall getting coffee in the Forum and eating in the Main Dining Hall.

Some parents, however, have even fonder memories of significant milestones they experienced in their time at Grinnell. Malinda and Nate Schmiechen (both ’88), whose daughters, Zoe and Alex Schmiechen (both ’17), had only first made eye contact in the loggia late into the second semester of their first year. On April 6, 1989 they officially met at a Gardner party.

Though the two were apart for college summers and Malinda’s semester in Yugoslavia, they decided to marry the summer after they graduated from college. As a reminder of how close Grinnell is to their hearts, the Schmiechens receive a Valentine’s Day card every year from the College, like other alumni couples who met here. The Schmiechens’ connections to Grinnell do not end there, however.

“There are more family ties. Malinda’s sister, Jinna was class of ’91. The only other family connection is my Dad’s cousin. Richard Schmiechen is a graduate, but I didn’t know that at the time,” Nate wrote in an email to The S&B.

Like any proud alum, Nate has an extensive Grinnell T-shirt collection that he has used to keep Grinnell present in their household.

“It helped them know it is a real college and not some weird code word,” he wrote.

But when Zoe and Alex started looking at colleges, he vowed not to try to convince them to come by wearing his T-shirts.

“I think of it as subliminal messaging when we were growing up,” Zoe said.

Zoe also does not remember hearing about Grinnell outside of her family. Until she began looking into colleges to apply to, she considered Grinnell to be unknown and overhyped by her parents. When it came time for them to start looking for schools, Nate and Malinda decided to take some chances. One of the most inconvenient ones was Nate’s decision to stop wearing his Grinnell shirts. According to Zoe, it became difficult for him to find clothes to wear.

“I … instead showed them that we love Grinnell, and all our Grinnell friends are friends for life,” Nate wrote.

Despite wanting Alex and Zoe to make their own choices, the Schmiechens had students stay with them for externships when their kids were deciding. Nate referred to the externship program as “a great recruiting tool.” After being surrounded by so many Grinnellians, Zoe and Alex became weary of their parents’ conspicuous advances.

“They initially felt too much undercurrent of GC Pride from me (I have that shirt also) and pushed back, but later admitted that Grinnell was the best,” Nate wrote. “Still, Alex tortured me by not telling me she picked Grinnell until the last week.”

Zoe and Alex had their own way of telling each other where they were going to college. As fraternal twins, they figured they would want more independence from each other in college than they had in high school. They decided they would each make their own decisions, put choices in envelopes and trade. Zoe made her decision early, but Alex chose Grinnell over Macalester only after her track teammate asked where she was going to school, forcing her to make a snap decision.

The Schmiechens are happy to maintain their ties with Grinnell through their daughters, but they are also not shy about returning to campus to remember the good old days. Every year until his daughters enrolled, Nate returned to Grinnell for alumni soccer weekends.

“He makes a big deal about getting in shape for the games and driving down every year for it,” Alex said.

Liam Stowe ’18 had a similar tie to Grinnell before he came. Though his Grinnell graduate father, William Stowe ’81, would be supportive of any choice, Liam recalled his father feeling very sentimental when they visited.

“When we took the tour, the tour guide started talking about Arabic and Middle Eastern studies classes, so [William Stowe] just started talking to him in Arabic,” Liam said. “Most parents didn’t know what was going on, but he certainly did.”

William Stowe transferred to Grinnell, but that did not prevent him from getting involved and making lasting connections. When Liam decided to go to Grinnell, his father told him that many of the students he met his second year complained about how difficult tutorial was and that he should take advantage of all the opportunities Grinnell has to offer. Though Liam is only one month into his Grinnell experience, he has found it has lived up to the high expectations his father set for him.

Malinda and Nate similarly want to share Grinnell in its entirety with their daughters.

“We want Grinnell to be theirs now,” Nate said.

Though Nate and Malinda’s only children are already in their second year at Grinnell, they still plan on keeping close with admissions. They may even be seen reaching out to lost or nervous parents of incoming Grinnellians.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *