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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Kathryn Stender

Photo contributed by Kathryn Stender.

Kathryn Stender `21 is a Chicago native, and certainly no stranger to a midwestern winter. In fact, one of her fondest memories is the way snow looks falling down over the peaceful campus, frosting the bare trees between Burling and Noyce.

As Stender thought back to her first year, she remembered being particularly excited for the open curriculum. Stender tried many courses and it took her a while to settle with double-majoring in sociology and GWSS. She said she fell in love with the way the two majors interact structurally and the “theory-action” approach in the disciplines.

Through her sociology courses, she had an opportunity to present her research into the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which is a deeply intersectional union. Stender said the sheer multitude of the diversity in domestic workers and the way it was mainly focused on women of color who speak an array of languages made the case study interesting.

“I appreciated that research brought it back to the ground,” said Stender, “and I felt that there were lessons to be had about how to unionize intersectionality as it really is so hard.”

Stender also had the opportunity to intern at a refugee resettlement program in Chicago. She said she enjoyed learning from her families and hopes to do more relationship building work. “A lot of these organizations are band-aid solutions to larger problems. So, there are always that push and pull of going long-term, short-term problems but I do not have the answer to those kind of questions.”

Stender was recruited for the women’s basketball team at Grinnell and has been spending a lot of time with her basketball family to make up for the lost season this year. She said she will miss the traditions of the basketball team and the bus rides they shared. One of Stender’s favorite memories of basketball was during her third year. “When the basketball team beat Cornell for the first time in like 12 or 15 years at Cornell – it was a great night!,” she said. “Our coach was so excited, and we took a great selfie in the locker room at Cornell which smells really weird. But we were so ecstatic! And our managers even drove to Cornell so that was nice to at least have a couple fans in the crowd.”

Stender said she will reminisce her time on the Grinnell campus as a wonderful, surreal experience.

“There is a beauty of spending entirely too much time sitting in D-Hall. Or even just seeing random people just chilling in the Grille. And it’s just kind of late-ish and you’re walking around in an academic building, and everyone is a little bit stressed but you’re all collectively in it, those are nice little things I will remember.”

Although she’s not sure about further education, Stender is very aware of her morals and priorities, and how those intersect with her work.

For now, she sees herself working in the nonprofit or social service world until she figures out what to do for graduate school.

“I learned so much at Grinnell, but I also feel like I learned so much about how I don’t know about so many things. Which, I know, sounds depressing, but I think that is kind of freeing and also motivating. We all have a lot to learn and understand and to grow from,” she said. “I am excited to keep investigating, interrogating and investigating and questioning. I feel like I have learned about different realms and aspects of the world I didn’t even know existed.”

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