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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Go Forth! Grinnell Alums Impress: Jamie Zwiebel ’08

While at Grinnell, Jamie Zwiebel ’08 took advantage of opportunities in the Grinnell community and abroad, a trend that she has continued by getting a Masters at Harvard, working abroad and more.

Zwiebel’s studies through the Institute for Central American Development Studies (ICADS) took her to San Ramon, Nicaragua, in order to work with Centro Promocional Cristiano (CPC). CPC is a small non-profit in a little town outside of the city of Matagalpa which serves the people in San Ramon and more rural communities.

“Ultimately, I ended up helping them get funding to build a medical clinic and have helped facilitate several other projects, especially a women’s sewing cooperative, since there are not any English speakers on staff to translate grants,” Zwiebel said. “I also worked with SEG, the student group at Grinnell, to get them to lend to the CPC in Nicaragua, which they still do.”

Zwiebel, who majored in Spanish at Grinnell with a concentration in Global Development Studies, received the Davis 100 Projects for Peace grant, which funded the sewing cooperative project for the community. Despite being a devoted student, Zwiebel also found time to have fun at Grinnell.

“Some of my fondest memories still come from all of the goofy things that we did, such as sliding down the ARH stairs with mattresses or founding the Literary Hooligans [a creative writing student group],” she said. “It is this joyful, free-spirited enthusiasm that makes Grinnell Grinnell. Try to have fun—it is the one time in your life that is socially sanctioned to act crazy.”

Following graduation, Zwiebel went directly to Harvard to complete a Masters of Science in Public Health, focusing on the intersection of economic development and health. She graduated in May and is now working to help raise money for a regional medical center in New Jersey.

“[Harvard] was a great opportunity, but for most students, I would recommend waiting until you have a clear-cut plan to go to grad school,” Zwiebel said. “Get some work and real-world experience first, and narrow your field.”

Zwiebel feels called toward more direct service in years ahead, preferably involving building relationships and hands-on work. One opportunity that she is considering includes joining a L’Arche community. L’Arche communities strive to “make explicit the dignity of every human being by building inclusive communities of faith and friendship where people with and without intellectual disabilities share life together,” as stated on their website,

Zwiebel has some advice for current day Grinnellians, especially the graduating seniors who are just a few years behind her.

“Keep your hearts open and stay in reality. No jobs will magically fall in your lap; don’t ever feel entitled,” she said. “Instead, work your butt off, keep your heart open to others, and you will be okay. Don’t every think you are above anything. Give everything a shot and give every person a chance.”

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