K’s Day of Gracious Giving is May 17

Kalamazoo College is hosting its Day of Gracious Giving on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. The annual giving day is the biggest fundraising day of the year for the College, and the entire K community is invited to come together to provide vital support for the student experience.    

Last year’s Day of Gracious Giving raised $448,353 from 1,433 donors, not including challenge matches. Contributions of all sizes supported scholarships and financial aid, faculty resources and K’s highest priorities.  

Over the last several years, the Day of Gracious Giving has been held on the same day as K’s Day of Gracious Living, a nearly 50-year Kalamazoo College tradition where student representatives select a day off, canceling classes.    

The actual date for the Day of Gracious Living—or DOGL (pronounced like doggle), as it is often referred to across campus—has always been a closely guarded surprise for students and employees, including K’s Advancement staff, who have previously planned the giving day with only a general idea of when the date might finally fall. This year, the College has decided to designate a specific date for the giving day, keeping the spirit of DOGL while adding the predictability of a more traditional giving day.  

Day of Gracious Giving benefits students in classrooms, labs and more
Contributions of all sizes toward the Day of Gracious Giving support scholarships and financial aid, faculty resources and K’s highest priorities to benefit students in classrooms, labs and more.

As for the Day of Gracious Living, it will continue to be chosen by student representatives, it’s date only revealed when the campus-wide email goes out and the chapel bells begin to ring, signaling to all students: set aside your books, gather up your friends and get your sunscreen and beach blankets ready.  

 “We believe that the Day of Gracious Giving encompasses the traditional spirit of DOGL—one of joy, appreciation and gratitude—whether or not it is held on the exact same day,” said Laurel Palmer, director of the Kalamazoo College Fund.  “Choosing a date ahead of time gives the College a consistent timeframe for planning and communicating about the event. We hope that this change will allow us to reach the broadest audience possible.”  

Palmer also encourages everyone in the K community to be a part of the Day of Gracious Giving, whether it’s by creating a buzz on social media to encourage participation, offering a challenge or making a donation. 

“Making a gift—of any size—on the Day of Gracious Giving helps to ensure that students are able to participate in the experiences that make the K education distinctive.” 

If you would like to give to K, please visit www.kzoo.edu/giving and place Day of Gracious Giving in the special instructions area to have your gift included as part of the day. Your contribution makes it possible for Kalamazoo College to provide brighter opportunities for K students—preparing them to shine a brighter light into the world as alumni.  

K Welcomes Rakugo Comedian, Storyteller Katsura Sunshine

A storyteller and comedian with Broadway credits will be the featured presenter at Kalamazoo College’s Kafu Lecture on Thursday, April 20, in the Dalton Theatre at Light Fine Arts.

Katsura Sunshine is one of only a few living non-Japanese masters of rakugo, a 400-year-old tradition of comic-monologue storytelling in Japan. In the practice, a lone storyteller, dressed in a kimono, kneels on a cushion while using a fan and a hand towel as props. 

To become a professional rakugoka, a storyteller must be apprenticed to a master, from whom the storyteller receives a stage name. Sunshine, originally from Canada, first was accepted as an apprentice to the rakugo storytelling master Katsura Bunshi VI in September 2008. He debuted professionally on April 26, 2009, in Singapore, and completed his three-year rakugo apprenticeship in November 2011. 

Sunshine has performed in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Slovenia, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Gabon, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Thailand, Australia and Japan. Reviews of Sunshine’s critically-acclaimed performances, such as a 2019 review from the New York Times, say his tales and prologues are full of self-deprecating humor, placing him in scenarios where he commonly plays an outsider. Watch excerpts from his previous performances in English and Japanese at Sunshine’s YouTube channel

The Kafu Lecture was established in 1982 by an anonymous donor in honor of Nagai Kafu, an acclaimed 20th century Japanese writer. Kafu studied at Kalamazoo College during the 1904-05 academic year. Admission to the event is free and open to the public. The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with the show beginning at 7. For more information, email K’s Department of Japanese at japanese@kzoo.edu

Rakugo Comedian and Storyteller Katsura Sunshine Performing
Katsura Sunshine is a master of rakugo, a 400-year-old Japanese art of comedy and storytelling. He will perform in a free show at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 20, in Dalton Theatre at Light Fine Arts.
Sunshine’s YouTube channel features some of his English performances of rakugo.

Prison Concert a ‘Quintessential Experience’ for College Singers

Kalamazoo College music ensembles are widely known for conducting performances all over the world, yet a recent appearance provided a first-of-its-kind venue for the Kalamazoo College Singers.

On March 2, the 30-student group had the opportunity to perform at the Ionia Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan, about 78 miles northeast of campus—an opportunity that College Singers Director and Assistant Professor of Music Chris Ludwa says he had been pursing for nearly 15 years.

“It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to engage in music in prisons,” Ludwa said. “It’s very easy when you’re in the academy to spend all your time focused on the academy, and I feel called to bring music to this particular population. It doesn’t make sense to me that when somebody gets locked up, we take away from them the things that may in fact provide the greatest sense of peace, serenity or calm. This is a world with so many inequities. We need to balance the opportunities that we’re providing for people of means, with those who are—for whatever reason—not able to access or experience live musical performances. Everybody’s soul hungers for it.”

Plans for the event at the prison developed as the College Singers have sought more performances in the community in recent years. Ionia Correctional Facility Chaplain Casey Cheney was thrilled to welcome the group when Ludwa reached out.

When March 2 came and the bus departed, Ludwa talked with the College Singers on the ride to Ionia about their expectations for the visit and who they might see.

“I asked the students if they have ever broken the law or broken any rules and not been caught,” he said. “Every hand went up, underscoring that most of us have a lot of preconceived notions about who’s in the prison system. We assume that we know more than we do about people who are imprisoned, but in a country whose justice system favors one population over another, that is an assumption that only furthers the systemic issues we see around us.”

Upon arriving in Ionia, the group spent about an hour going through security. “The guards did everything from checking what was on our person to taking our socks off and running scans on the bottom of our feet to make sure we weren’t bringing in any contraband,” Ludwa said. “They were checking our keyboards. Some of the students had their mouths swabbed.”

As they proceeded further into the prison complex and walked across the yard, they found themselves surrounded by razor wire, and they caught a rare glimpse of life inside the facility.

“You see these guys in the library and in the lunchroom, dressed in their blue uniforms,” Ludwa said. “But when you get into the performance hall, they’re an audience like any other. In the performance hall, there are no labels. There’s no ‘them’ or ‘us.’ You’re just all experiencing music together.”

Prison officials had taped off seats in the auditorium, putting at least 50 feet between the inmates and the College Singers. The singers stayed onstage for most of the performance until they decided to come offstage to perform a gospel piece led by Tyrus Parnell ’25, followed by the spiritual Down by the Riverside as a finale.

“When we joined them, they engaged in a different way,” Ludwa said. “It’s like we tore down this wall, literally and figuratively. When Tyrus performed, one of the inmates spontaneously got up and started applauding spontaneously. He was so encouraging of what Tyrus had done.” Then came a post-performance Q-and-A that Ludwa described as amazing.

“They asked the same kinds of questions we get whenever we go on tour,” he said. “Whether we’re at a wealthy, predominantly white church in the middle of a city or a prison in a rural area like Ionia, the questions show us that music is universal.”

After the performance, Chaplain Cheney reached out to Ludwa to thank the group for coming: “Our men have experienced so much violence, so much trauma. They lack so many things we take for granted and the live musical performance reminds them what a beautiful place this world can be and is.”

A group of College Singers performers with a K flag
The College Singers have performed at a variety of sites around the country including churches and concert halls.
A group of College Singers performers with a K flag
College Singers Director and Assistant Professor of Music Chris Ludwa has made it a goal to perform at more sites in the community.
The prison guard tower at Ionia Correctional Facility
The College Singers performed March 2 at the Ionia Correctional Facility.

Help College Singers Fund Experiences Like Prison Concert

If you would like to support additional brighter experiences for K’s College Singers, please make a gift online and indicate “College Singers” in the gift instructions field.

In hindsight, College Singers representatives such as Keegan Sweeney ’24 said K professors engage in conversations around social justice, equity, the prison industrial complex and injustices in society, so it’s important that the College offers ways to engage with it.

“I appreciated the opportunity to see a part of American life that few college students our age experience,” Sweeney said.  “Walking out of the auditorium, many of us were already reflecting on our experience. As we passed the window of the prison law library—several people sat inside, their noses in textbooks. Next to the window was a classroom with a group, deep in conversation.”

“I was reminded of the injustices endemic to our system and the stark comparison of the classroom and law library to our campus dorm rooms and K classrooms—where we discuss the same system, but rarely ever see it for ourselves. At the same time, I think the classroom and library humanized incarcerated people, those who only show up in statistics to many of us.”

Jacob McKinney ’26 said, “I wish we could have talked more to the people who came and watched because I felt like we connected with them when we were offstage. I could see some of them smiling and clapping along to Down by the Riverside and it brought a great amount of emotion to me. It was a really special experience.”

Ludwa said, “For me, it was the quintessential education experience that is a part of the K-Plan, where we plan what we’re going to learn about in the classroom, and then we experience it ourselves because the firsthand learning is so much more influential. It helps take something from theoretical to practical. Once the students do that, they have a better sense of the human toll these systems of injustice cause.”

Ludwa added that the trip scratched the surface of his dream, and from an emotional standpoint, it far exceeded his expectations of what he hoped the both the inmates and the students would get from the experience.

“Perhaps we go back in and do a workshop on singing. Then eventually it becomes a regular performance venue. The key is to build relationships.” The challenge is finding funding, as the trips carry an expense with them, and it’s important to avoid that expense being something that further underscores the inequities amongst students in terms of financial means.

Sweeney said, “We came to sing, but I think we left having learned something that you cannot teach in a classroom. I cannot speak for everyone, but I know that I got a dose of reality that day. As our bus pulled out of the parking lot, leaving to come back to campus, I was reminded to live each day with more intention and not to take privileges for granted.”

Payne Fellowship Sets Up K Alumna for Foreign Service Work

A Kalamazoo College alumna is being honored with a prestigious fellowship that helps people interested in pursuing careers in the foreign service follow a path toward work in the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Aramide Apo-Oyin ’22 will complete graduate school through a Payne Fellowship, named to honor former U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne, and then work on the front lines of pressing global challenges such as poverty, hunger, injustice, disease, climate change, conflict and violent extremism with USAID.

“I knew that this fellowship was perfect for me because of the partnership with USAID, which does invaluable work around the globe,” she said. “The Donald M. Payne Fellowship gives me an opportunity that combines my interest in public health and public service on a global scale.”

The Payne Fellowship this year received more than 500 applications and only 30 fellows were selected. Apo-Oyin applied when she recognized the value she could bring to the fellowship, including her own background as a Nigerian American woman and the diverse experiences she had through the liberal arts at K.

“Initially, in college, I was on the pre-health track as a biology major, but I discovered my love of public health and service through my internship with the Advocate Aurora Health Transition Support Program,” Apo-Oyin said. “Through this public health internship, I was able to assist people from under-resourced communities in the Chicagoland area to help them overcome barriers to care that they were experiencing. These barriers included finding transportation to their next appointment, applying for Medicaid/Medicare, scheduling follow-up appointments, and educating patients on discharge instructions to reduce their risk of being readmitted to the hospital. In doing this work for over a year my passion for public health and service grew.”

Such experiences led Jessica Fowle—K’s director of grants, fellowships and research—to see Apo-Oyin as an ideal candidate for a Payne Fellowship as the two worked together throughout the application process.

Payne Fellow Aramide Apo-Oyin at Commencement in 2022
Aramide Apo-Oyin ’22 will complete graduate school through a Payne Fellowship and then work on the front lines of pressing global challenges with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

“It was a true joy to work with Aramide as her fellowships advisor on the application process for her Payne Fellowship,” Fowle said. “Applying to this type of program requires reflection on and synthesis of scholarship, internships, co-curricular involvement, and life experience—articulating a vision for the future that captures the goal of the program. Aramide took full advantage of the opportunities at Kalamazoo College and is poised to fully engage with the educational and experiential foundations as a Payne Fellow, graduate student, and foreign service officer.”

The Payne fellowship provides up to $104,000 over two years toward tuition and fees in completing a master’s degree in international development or a related field; room, board, books and education-related expenses; and a stipend for housing, transportation and related expenses for two summer internships. Apo-Oyin is currently deciding which international development program she will be attending later this fall.

Her adventure will begin this spring when Apo-Oyin participates in an orientation at Howard University; there she will become familiar with all the aspects of the fellowship and enhance her understanding of and skills for an international-development career. She then will work in her first internship this summer, tending to international issues at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Her second internship will be overseas on a USAID mission next summer.

All of it represents a challenge Apo-Oyin is happy to accept as she takes her next step toward a career in the foreign service.

“I spent part of my formative years abroad in Nigeria and London,” Apo-Oyin said. “It was then that my interest in international work was ignited. Growing up in these places, I could see the difference between high-income and low-income countries. This experience widened my perspective of the world from a young age and planted a seed for my interest in international development. Now, If I have any advice for anyone who is interested in applying for this fellowship or other international affairs fellowships, it would be not to doubt yourself. Trust that your story of who you are and why you’re interested in this work is unique to you and it’ll only allow you to stand out in this process. Do your best to surround yourself with people who believe in you and trust in yourself.”

Walking Alone, Gathering Together: Solitude and Community on the Camino de Sanitago

Two women at a marker along the Camino de Santiago
Struggling with sore feet and blisters, Fiona O’Rielly ’23 rented a bike to reach the Camino Finisterre. 
One female student looking at the ocean at the Camino Finisterre along the Camino de Santiago trail
O’Rielly ’23 arrives at the Camino Finisterre
O'Rielly walks during her first day at the Pyrenees mountain range along the Camino de Santiago
O’Rielly walks during her first day at the Pyrenees mountain range along the Camino de Santiago.

July 2022 was the hottest calendar month in Spain since records were first kept in 1961. It was also the month that Fiona O’Rielly ’23 set out on a 500-mile hike across Spain. O’Rielly’s sweltering passage along the ancient pilgrimage route Camino de Santiago, and the interviews she conducted with other walkers along the way, formed the basis for her Spanish Senior Integrated Project (SIP), Caminando el Camino: Una experiencia de comunidad. 

The SIP process helped O’Rielly reflect and gain perspective on community, solitude and relationships during her last year on the Kalamazoo College campus—which was also her first full year on campus, due to a college experience upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

O’Rielly wrote her SIP in Spanish and in four parts, focusing on the historical context of the Camino de Santiago, the shift toward more secular pilgrimages and increase in use, the impact of the pandemic on the Camino and on tourism in Spain, and O’Rielly’s interview findings and personal reflections. 

The Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James, is a network of pilgrimage routes leading to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain, where tradition holds that the remains of the Biblical apostle St. James the Great are buried. It began in the ninth century and became a major pilgrimage route of medieval Christianity by the 10th century. 

Since the 1990s, the Camino de Santiago has regained the popularity it had in the Middle Ages, with hundreds of thousands walking the route each year. Although some of those walkers continue to be religious pilgrims, many now walk for a variety of more secular reasons. 

O'Rielly walks along the final stage of the Camino de Santiago through Galicia, Spain
O’Rielly walks along the final stage of the Camino de Santiago through Galicia, Spain.
O'Rielly stops at one of the albergues, or hostels, along the route to stay the night along the Camino de Santiago
O’Rielly stops at one of the albergues, or hostels, along the route to stay the night.
O'Rielly began her journey at the St. Jean-Pied-du-Port in France
O’Rielly began her journey at the St. Jean-Pied-du-Port in France.

O’Rielly walked the Camino Francés, the most popular route, which stretches about 500 miles, or 800 kilometers, from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port in France to the cathedral in Santiago, in the heat of summer. That July, the average daily high was 85˚F, with the hottest day reaching 106˚F. August wasn’t much better, with an average daily high of 81˚F and a peak of 100˚F.  

“It was pretty unbearable some days,” O’Rielly said. “A lot of the time, the sun was very intense and there wasn’t a lot of shade.” 

She battled heat rash, sunburn, dehydration and blisters, often rising by 4 a.m. to get the day’s miles walked before the heat of the day. She carried a backpack with a change of clothes, a sleeping bag liner, a guidebook and lots of water. 

During the day, O’Rielly did a lot of solo walking, often starting off with two friends who joined her on the Camino before each settled into their own pace and thoughts. Some days she listened to the sounds of nature; other days, the rhythm of traffic; at times, she plugged into music on her phone, especially a folk band from Ohio called Caamp, which released a new album while she was walking. 

The path varies in style and surroundings, ranging from mountainous dirt trail to flat gravel path to narrow road shoulder. Well-marked with yellow arrows, the Camino passes through a range of landscapes as well as many small towns where pilgrims stop at cafes to eat or at albergues (hostels along the route) to stay the night. 

In the evenings, O’Rielly would reconnect with her friends and other pilgrims in the towns and albergues along the route. She would also conduct interviews for her SIP.  

“I wanted those conversations to happen more organically, and I did talk to people that way, but those conversations specifically for my SIP happened mainly in the albergues, which is the main community aspect of the Camino,” O’Rielly said. “A lot of people will walk the whole day alone, and then come together, gather, share a meal, play cards, and get to know other walkers in these hostels.” 

O'Rielly organizes documents from her interviews at an albergue along her route on the Camino de Santiago
O’Rielly organizes documents from her interviews at an albergue along her route.
O'Rielly stops at a cathedral in Santiago, Spain
O’Rielly stops at a cathedral in Santiago, Spain.
O'Rielly plans her journey along the Camino de Santiago
O’Rielly plans her journey along the Camino de Santiago.

Most pilgrims were open and friendly, willing to be interviewed and to share their stories. O’Rielly ended up interviewing 15 hikers from all over the world, including Spain, the U.S., New Zealand, Ireland and Argentina. She conducted about half the interviews in Spanish, and wrote her SIP in Spanish, which was challenging and important in her Spanish learning progression.  

“I wanted to hear a lot of people’s stories and I think most people were open with that and happy to talk,” she said. “They were also understanding of me as someone who’s learning Spanish. When I was having these interviews in Spanish, there were definitely grammatical errors on my part, and people were patient and also excited to share their experiences. Maybe some people saw this as a way for them to take the time and reflect and talk it out as they were having this experience. Everyone was really welcoming.” 

In her interviews, O’Rielly met pilgrims who chose to walk for religious or spiritual reasons, as part of their struggles with addiction, because they were facing a transition in life, as part of their grieving process and to spread a loved one’s ashes, because they felt lost and unsure of their direction, because they wanted to see the country in all its variety, and more. 

One big theme that emerged from O’Rielly’s interviews was the need for both solitude and community. 

“Most people I talked to started the Camino alone,” she said. “I remember one in particular who started alone, then met this group on the first day. They would hike alone, then they would all gather and pick the same hostel and cook a meal at the end of the day. Having the time to really be alone with your thoughts and then being able to come together and have that community and those friendships is really special.” 

Another big theme that resonated personally for O’Rielly was acceptance of relationships that are anchored to a particular time or place. 

A series of stamps depicting stops along the Camino de Santiago
The Pilgrim Passport or Credencial is an official accreditation that identifies people who walk across the Camino de Santiago.

“I’ve had a lot of experiences in my life recently of intense times of bonding with people for a short period of time, and then having to walk away from that relationship,” O’Rielly said. “It’s been hard for me to realize that I can’t keep in touch with everyone.” 

For example, O’Rielly came to Kalamazoo College in fall 2019, where the Ann Arbor native participated in LandSea, joined the swim team, took Spanish classes and built community on the close-knit campus. Then came March 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic closing the state down and sending O’Rielly and the rest of the campus home. Along with so many others, O’Rielly found herself abruptly removed from the community she had started to establish at K. 

Her second year at K, O’Rielly lived in a Kalamazoo apartment with friends, attending classes virtually and rarely venturing outside her COVID bubble. 

Then O’Rielly left that community to spend her entire third year of college abroad in Cáceres, Spain. In Cáceres, she first lived with a host family and took classes through the Universidad de Extremadura with about a dozen other K students from September to February. At that point, the other K students returned to Kalamazoo, while O’Rielly stayed behind in Cáceres until June, moving into an apartment with two international students from Italy and taking Universidad classes on her own.  

On the Camino, O’Rielly found herself in a similar situation yet again, meeting people in a context of openness and self-discovery, bonding quickly and intensely, then separating, possibly forever. She also found the time and space to reflect on those relationships. 

“I remember having this conversation with my friend, and she said something like, ‘The relationships I made on the Camino are meant to be left on the Camino. They’re not mine to take,’” O’Rielly said. “That was a powerful moment for me, personally, to realize that I’ve had these beautiful moments and shared these connections with people, and it’s temporary, and that’s OK. Maybe they’ll come back again, and I can be content with these relationships as they are.” 

Walking the Camino alone gave O’Rielly time to think about the interviews she had conducted, brainstorm the format for her SIP, reflect on her own experiences and what they meant to her, and let her mind wander wherever it happened to go. 

“It’s really beautiful to have an experience like the Camino and be able to take time to sit with it and reflect on what I gained,” O’Rielly said. “In a lot of my experiences, I’ve just had to move on because I’m back in school or on to the next thing. Having that time benefitted me a lot.” 

The home stretch of the Camino can bring a bit of culture shock after all that solitude and small community. Church groups and large organizations often walk the last 100 or 200 kilometers, so the quiet Camino becomes a river of people by the time a pilgrim passes through the town of Sarria, especially during the summer peak season. 

“How far to walk each day and where to stay each night was very spontaneous until about the last two weeks,” O’Rielly said. “In Sarria, you’re reaching the last 100 kilometers of the Camino, and that’s when the crowds come in. Then I was booking hostels in advance and on more of a schedule.” 

Between the increasing number of pilgrims, and the bigger size of Santiago de Compostela, the end of the Camino can be jarring for pilgrims who walk the whole route. 

“I felt a bit overwhelmed,” O’Rielly said.  

O'Rielly walks through Garcia, Spain, along the Camino de Santiago
O’Rielly walks through Garcia, Spain, along the Camino de Santiago.

After two nights in Santiago, she struck out again, on a sort of alternate ending to the Camino—about an additional 90 kilometers to Fisterra, or Finisterra, “the end of the world.”  

Struggling with sore feet and blisters, O’Rielly rented a bike for the Camino Finisterre. 

“I thought a bike would be so much easier,” O’Rielly said. “I rented panniers to put my stuff in, though, and every time I would go up a hill, the bike would just tip. It ended up being really difficult, and I think walking would have been easier.” 

Fisterra, however, was worth the extra work, and her three nights there were a satisfying end to her pilgrimage. 

“It’s this beautiful route along the coast, and you end at the ocean,” she said. “It was amazing to swim in the ocean and relax, and I felt a lot more of the community there. I reunited with some people I had met early on the Camino and it was a really special ending point for me.” 

Now O’Rielly is deep in her last and first full year on the Kalamazoo College campus, done writing her SIP, finishing a major in Spanish with a minor in English following the journalism course sequence. She is grateful for the experiences she has had and the professors, the Hough Foundation SIP Grant and funding from the Center for International Programs that made those opportunities possible.  

After graduation, she hopes to return to Spain, possibly through the North American Language and Culture Assistants Program. 

“That would be a good way for me to continue speaking Spanish and take some time to reflect on what I would like to study next,” O’Rielly said. “There’s a lot of different things I’m interested in. I would love to go to graduate school in a Spanish-speaking country, but figuring that out could take some time and I’m not rushed at all for that.” 

Just like she did on the Camino de Santiago, Fiona O’Rielly will take things one step at a time. 

O’Rielly walked the Camino Francés route of the Camino de Santiago, which stretches about 500 miles, from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port in France to the cathedral in Santiago, Spain.

Restorative Justice Lessons Lead to Job Skills

Kalamazoo College is known for providing academic experiences that can lead to real-world jobs. Take the example of Steph Guyor ’22.

Guyor’s senior seminar, led by Associate Professor of English Ryan Fong, tackled the concept of restorative or transformative justice, a newer community-based practice that helps society do more than hold law breakers accountable in a criminal justice system. Instead, restorative justice also addresses the dehumanization an offender typically experiences with their punishment, offering basic services along with pathways for making amends to victims and the community, reducing the likelihood for recidivism.

“Within the U.S., justice is traditionally focused on the offender and the crime they committed,” Guyor said. “The punishments are seen as deserved. Yet by focusing on the punishment, the factors that led to the harm being committed often go unexamined, and the needs of the person who’s harmed remain unmet. Viewing punishment as the only appropriate response around accountability ends up taking the form of shame and isolation, which furthers the relational divide and deters people from changing their harmful behaviors. Restorative and transformative justice work to reorient accountability away from punishments and toward meaningful consequences that allow connections to be restored and relational dynamics to be restored.”

Guyor, who double majored in psychology and women and gender studies (WGS), was intrigued by these concepts and said Fong’s class was enjoyable because it allowed her to see justice in a different way. Then came an opportunity to connect those studies to a job, when she heard Ministry with Community in Kalamazoo was hiring a restorative justice coordinator. The nonprofit organization is a secular, daytime shelter and resource center open 365 days a year that helps local residents address homelessness, poverty, substance abuse and other crises.

“I saw the posting and thought it could be an opportunity to make change locally in Kalamazoo in a way that’s influenced by getting to know people,” Guyor said. “I knew I wanted to try to find a way to integrate the psychological understanding of why people do what they do with a socially informed understanding of how social circumstances influence it.”

And today, Guyor relishes her job, which involves learning more about the restorative justice practices in place around the country while collecting data to determine what she can do to solve problems in Kalamazoo. Hopefully, that will lead to a new yet well-rounded restorative justice program at Ministry with Community that reduces the likelihood of repeat offenses.

“It comes with a lot of responsibility that a big part of me was afraid to take on given the idea that I did just graduate,” she said. “But it’s also a unique opportunity that I’m excited to have. I think the goal will be a culture shift within the organization so there will be fewer incidents with fewer people breaking community expectations, and more trust between the members, and between members and staff.”

Guyor said a common misconception about restorative or transformative justice is that it’s soft on offenders—that it lets people off the hook and fails to follow through on a punishment. She cautions against that idea.

“In reality, facing the people who you hurt and holding the space for them to explain their hurt is a lot harder,” Guyor said. “Restorative justice is about having high expectations for people along with a lot of support. It makes sure we’re holding people accountable to the changes they work toward, but not in a way that revolves around shame. In punitive settings, you’re doing things to people. In permissive settings, you’re doing things for people. But restorative justice is more about working with people to make change.”

Fong said he’s likely to continue teaching about restorative and transformative justice at K.

“So many students, especially WGS students, are interested in social justice and activism, but don’t always know what it looks like in practice beyond demonstrations and non-profit work,” he said. “In the wake of the 2020 protests and calls to defund the police, I saw many students wondering what that demand meant. Doing a deep dive into restorative and transformative justice was one way to understand how abolitionist organizers were working in concrete ways to build new systems and structures that address and eliminate violence.”

He’s also incredibly proud of Guyor and honored that he played a role in helping her find her career path.

“I hope she keeps drawing on the skills and knowledge she gained at K and as a WGS student to continue on it for the rest of her life,” Fong said. “That’s really my hope for all our WGS students: that they find meaningful ways to put their education into action.”

Donations Fund Restorative Justice Programs

Ministry with Community, a nonprofit organization, accepts donations for the restorative justice programs being built by K alumna Stephanie Guyor ’22. To donate directly to restorative justice efforts, visit the organization’s website.

Restorative justice professional Steph Guyor '22 outside Ministry with Community in Kalamazoo
Steph Guyor ’22 took classroom experiences with restorative justice and transformed them into a career at Ministry with Community in Kalamazoo.
Guyor, who double majored in psychology and women and gender studies at K, now works as the restorative justice coordinator at Ministry with Community in Kalamazoo.

A Practice in Gratitude: Scholarship Honors Late Professor Emeritus T. Jefferson Smith 

The late T. Jefferson Smith was a long-time beloved Kalamazoo College math professor, the driving force behind bringing change ringing and the English tower bells to Stetson Chapel, and a true Renaissance man with a breath-taking assortment of hobbies. 

Known as both Jeff and T.J., Smith was respected and admired by students and colleagues alike during his nearly 30 years at Kalamazoo College. His life and legacy are now being honored with the Professor T. Jefferson Smith Memorial Scholarship. 

An anonymous donor established the fund as a practice of gratitude after a classroom experience where students were asked to name a personal hero, and many shared stories of teachers that changed their lives. 

“I thought, ‘Shouldn’t we do something to recognize teachers for how much they do for us?’” the donor said. “My feeling is that teachers may not know the impact they have on students, in part because students have a long trajectory ahead. Learning experiences can have an effect that may not appear for 10, 20, 30 years. It’s important to recognize our teachers for the formative effect they have on us at a very formative time of life.” 

Smith was initially hired by Kalamazoo College in 1961; after his first year of teaching, he was offered a research position with the geophysical staff at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. The opportunity was too good to pass up. Smith told his family that working in applied science would balance his theoretical training and benefit his future students when he returned to the College, which he did eagerly in 1967. Smith taught at K for nearly three decades before retiring in 1994. 

“Jeff and I enjoyed, admired and had deep and sincere affection for our students and our colleagues,” said his widow, Carol Smith, who was a reference librarian at K for many years. “K was a wonderful place to be and we loved all the time there.” 

Smith died in April 2019, at the age of 88. The scholarship, which supports Kalamazoo College students with financial need, would have pleased him, Carol Smith said. 

“Education was paramount in Jeff’s mind—the combination of the intellectual fulfillment of education and the ability to change your life,” Carol Smith said. “He grew up in rural Georgia—no plumbing, no running water, milk the cows before you go to school. His family was very close, very warm. They were very, very poor, and no one then had a college education, but his interest in music and education was encouraged. Jeff was an outstanding high school student, and he must have had some scholarship help to get through college, even though he worked as well. This scholarship would have meant so very much to him. It’s a perfect memorial for Jeff, and my children and I appreciate it very much.” 

Contributing to the fund is a practice of gratitude and appreciation for Alan Hewett ’71, very much in the spirit of the establishment of the scholarship. 

“I have supported K continuously since I graduated as a form of appreciation for the training and growth I gained there,” Hewett said. “I just added a gift to the T.J. Smith fund because T.J. was such a good mentor for me and because I wanted to acknowledge and honor that experience and the man. My biggest hope is that, in some small way, it will provide an opportunity for a few more people to attend K and gain some of the advantages that I received from K.” 

Those advantages included the opportunity to learn from Smith. 

“He was not only my favorite professor; he was one of the main reasons I went back to reunions while he was still teaching,” Hewett said. “At the time, it didn’t occur to me that T. J. was a Renaissance man.  I just liked his teaching style. In retrospect, he truly was a Renaissance man, interested in so many things and fun to be around.” 

Smith would bring his many interests into the classroom, incorporating stories of fighting kites, bell ringing, playing the viola, bicycle racing, model airplanes, bread baking and more into math lectures. (After retirement, he would continue and expand his hobbies, including yo-yos, spinning tops, apple growing, antique tractor restoration, the melodeon—a small, accordion-like musical instrument—and more.) 

“He could make people who didn’t care much for math enjoy it because they could get into the story,” Hewett said. “He managed to take things that were fun to do and move them into something you would have to use math for.” 

Smith received the Florence J. Lucasse Lectureship for Excellence in Teaching Award in 1985 for outstanding achievement in creative work, research and publication. In 1993, he was presented the Weimer K. Hicks Award for providing excellent service in the performance of his job and making a significant contribution to the College in founding the Kalamazoo College Guild of Change Ringers in 1977 and spearheading the 1984 installation of eight English bells in the tower of Stetson Chapel. Those efforts also led to him being named Ringing Master of the College in 1988. 

Change ringing with Smith has been a key part of the K experience for many alumni, including Tom Farthing ’83. With his first term under his belt, Farthing started winter term 1980 confident that he could handle the academics, yet unsure how and where he fit into the College—until the first Sunday of the term, when he tried change ringing. 

“It made sense to me immediately,” Farthing said. “It was this two-pronged thing: There was an activity that made sense to the way my brain works, and then there was Jeff, who was teaching people, encouraging people, smoothing the path. I found my people there, and that was the majority of my connection with the College.” 

The change ringing community brought Farthing together with his wife, Christine (Stibal) Farthing ’85, who was a friend in college. They stayed in contact after graduation, eventually becoming a couple, due to the community Smith developed and nurtured so well. 

“When I was a sophomore, my suitemates threw a surprise birthday party for me, and they invited Jeff, and he came,” Farthing said. “I can still picture him walking toward our suite and instantly everyone was all around him, which was typical. He was so engaging and eloquent and full of stories. He was just a magnet.” 

Smith was also an excellent professor, Farthing said, always prepared and interesting, and a role model. 

“He was big on self-improvement,” Farthing said. “He knew he should improve his handwriting because he was writing in front of students, so he studied calligraphy and developed his beautiful handwriting. He would work on his vocabulary, one word at a time. I remember ‘ubiquitous’ was his word for a while, and he just worked it into everyday conversation, and you’d say, ‘Oh, there’s that word again.’ ‘Copacetic’ was another one. He did that for years.” 

In the Smith family home on Bulkley Street, Carol Smith said, “there was a little southern porch off our bedroom, and Jeff turned it into his office. One of the classroom buildings was being renovated and he got an old chalkboard, which he put up in his office. He would go through his lectures, even writing on the board, before all his classes.” 

Smith was devoted to his students as well as his family, Carol Smith said. 

“He was extremely ethical, caring and warm and generous,” she said. “He was very devoted. He was quite passionate about things in an understated way.” 

Within the math department, those qualities helped Smith serve as a respected colleague and mentor. He was the first person whom Professor of Mathematics Emeritus John Fink met in Kalamazoo, greeting Fink at the train station with a firm handshake—a grip Fink can still feel.  

When Fink was a young professor struggling with the transition from his mathematics Ph.D. program to an undergraduate classroom, Smith—who generally was not one for giving advice—offered him a phrase Fink would return to again and again. 

“The gulf between where professors are as trained Ph.D. mathematicians and where the students are is so vast,” Fink said. “It was a shock to me, and I think it’s a shock for a lot of people. I came into Jeff’s office, and I was complaining about something, and he said, ‘It’s the undergraduate gamble.’ He didn’t say much more than that, but I carried it with me. It’s the undergraduate gamble. Whenever I would get frustrated, those words would come back to me. What’s the gamble? Well, I’m betting on the potential that is not yet evident in this student. I think that was Jeff’s approach to lots of things. He would bet on the potential, and I think he won most of the time. 

“Jeff was a great mentor for me. He took the undergraduate gamble on me. When I didn’t see anything in myself, he saw something in me—or maybe he didn’t, but he behaved in a way that would bring it out of me anyway.” 

In department meetings, two professors who had strong personalities would sit at either end of the table and “be talking past each other with lots of energy,” Fink said. “At some point, Jeff would just put his head into the exchange and say, ‘So what I hear is this.’ He would say it in a clear, accurate and eloquent way, and whatever he said, that turned out to be what the department did.” 

Smith had an appreciation for clarity, rigor, economy and beauty, Fink said; a positive, generous, attitude; a disarming Georgia accent and “aw shucks” attitude; and a way of holding students to rigorous expectations while maintaining a positive relationship with them. 

“If I was in the hallway outside of his classroom, I would listen to Jeff teaching and just appreciate his wonderful approach to the subject,” Fink said. “Whenever I would think that I might have gotten up to Jeff Smith quality in my own teaching, I would stand outside his classroom to listen and see how much farther I had to go.” 

Smith taught Fink how to handle the ropes for change ringing before Fink’s 1990 sabbatical to Oxford, England, so that Fink could ring while he was there. Fink currently teaches a class at Kalamazoo College on ringing, and is part of the band of change ringers that regularly rings in Stetson Chapel tower. 

When Fink learned of the Professor T. Jefferson Smith Memorial Scholarship, he felt joy, he said. He recalled how former students and change ringers came from all over the country for Smith’s memorial service, which he saw as a measure of the impact Smith had. 

“It’s fitting, then, that he can still have an impact on future students by this scholarship,” Fink said. “Now, I want those scholarship recipients to know Jeff in the way his students and colleagues did. This scholarship allows Jeff’s relationship to the College and his memory to be part of the foundation of another student’s education.”  

If you would like to support K students and give in honor of Professor Smith, please make a gift online to the Professor T. Jefferson Smith Memorial Scholarship or contact Nicki Poer, associate director of special initiatives, at 269.337.7281 or nicki.poer@kzoo.edu

Jeff Smith pointing at a blackboard
The late T. Jefferson Smith was a long-time beloved Kalamazoo College math professor and the driving force behind bringing change ringing and the English tower bells to Stetson Chapel.
T. Jefferson Smith received a plaque for 25th anniversary at Kalamazoo College before retiring with nearly 30 years of service in 1994.
Jeff Smith on Chapel Steps
Smith was respected and admired by students and colleagues alike. His life and legacy are now being honored with the Professor T. Jefferson Smith Memorial Scholarship. 
Jeff Smith with Students
Smith died in April 2019 at age 88. The scholarship named for him, which supports Kalamazoo College students with financial need, would have pleased him, his widow, Carol Smith, said. 
Smith received the Florence J. Lucasse Lectureship for Excellence in Teaching Award in 1985 for outstanding achievement in creative work, research and publication. In 1993, he was presented the Weimer K. Hicks Award for providing excellent service in the performance of his job and making a significant contribution to the College in founding the Kalamazoo College Guild of Change Ringers.
Jeff Smith with Student
When Professor of Mathematics Emeritus John Fink learned of the Professor T. Jefferson Smith Memorial Scholarship, he felt joy. He recalled how former students and change ringers came from all over the country for Smith’s memorial service. 

Red Cross Club Delivers the Life Blood of K Drives

With hearts full of service, a student organization is pumping exceptional success into the blood drives at Kalamazoo College.

The Red Cross Club, led by Abby Barnum ’23, has earned a Premier Blood Partners Program award from the American Red Cross, designed to recognize community efforts in benefiting the local blood supply. The award honors the Red Cross’ highest contributing sponsors, starting at 50 donations collected per year, with a minimum blood-drive size of 30 units.

As many as 50 students, faculty, staff and community members have signed up for each of the blood drives at K, which are conducted once per term, amounting to three times a year. After a few cancellations and donation deferrals for low blood-iron levels, about 35 to 40 typically will donate.

“It’s a really big honor,” said Barnum, a biochemistry major and aspiring physician assistant. “The Red Cross person who arranges the blood drives told me, ‘you guys are doing so well, we’re going to give you this special recognition because you just keep knocking it out of the park.’ It was nice to hear that we’re making a difference even though we’re a smaller school.”

The COVID-19 pandemic prevented Barnum and Red Cross Club members from conducting blood drives at K until last spring. But now, a local Red Cross representative will collaborate with Health Care Center Coordinator Jennifer Combes to schedule each drive. That empowers about 10 active Red Cross Club members to volunteer both before and after the drives.

“The week before a drive we’ll have at least two people at tables at Hicks Student Center, and we encourage everybody as much as we can to donate,” Barnum said. “We let them know that donating saves up to three lives and we’ll give them free snacks afterward. On the day of, we have hour-long shifts. I usually take the day off from classes because it’s easier if at least one person is always there. One person does registration. Another works in the canteen, where we make sure everyone who donates gets a snack and is feeling OK afterward.”

Red Cross Club leader Abby Barnum with others from the Department of Chemistry registering students as majors in the department
Abby Barnum ’23 (left) joined Caelan Frazier ’24, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Daniela Arias-Rotondo and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Blake Tresca at Declaration of Major Day in February. Barnum is a member of the Kalamazoo College Red Cross Club, a student organization being recognized by the American Red Cross for the success of its blood drives.

How to help the Red Cross Club

  • Kalamazoo College will host its next Red Cross blood drive from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday, March 30, in the Hicks Banquet Room.
  • For an appointment, visit RedCrossBlood.org and enter sponsor code kzoocollege or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).
  • Donors of all blood types are needed and blood can only come from volunteer blood donors.

Barnum has seen the importance of blood donations from a young age on through family members. Her grandfather has hemochromatosis, a condition in which one’s body accumulates too much iron, which forces him to donate blood regularly whenever he’s eligible. Her mom also began donating blood years ago, setting an example for Barnum.

As a result, Barnum became a blood drive officer at her high school and began donating herself. Later, her dad benefitted from blood donations when he suffered from two non-malignant brain tumors. And since, she has worked in Bronson-affiliated emergency rooms as a medical scribe in downtown Kalamazoo, Paw Paw and Battle Creek through Helix Scribe Solutions, which provides services to physician groups, healthcare systems and hospitals.

“I’ve seen the amount of help that just one blood donation can provide,” Barnum said. “Donating takes such a small portion of your day and you can really change someone’s life with it.”

If the thought of needles prevents you from donating, but you still want to help, remember that students can always join the Red Cross Club.

“We’re always looking for new people and the time commitment is once a term for maybe four hours,” Barnum said. “It’s an easy way to feel good about yourself and boost your resume with volunteer work. It’s also a good way to contribute to society and have a positive impact on the world around you.”

Three Faculty Members Earn Promotion, Tenure

Three Kalamazoo College faculty members from the music, German studies and French studies departments have been awarded tenure along with a promotion to associate professor.

The tenure milestone recognizes excellence in teaching, scholarship and service to the College, and signifies its confidence in the contributions these faculty will make throughout their careers. The Board of Trustees-approved tenure recipients are:

Assistant Professor of Music Chris Ludwa

Ludwa is the director of the College Singers, the Lux Esto Chamber Choir and the Kalamazoo Bach Festival at K, where he is an advocate for a variety of singing methods including contemporary a cappella, musical theatre, opera, oratorio and pop music, especially those connected with justice and equity.

In 2020, Ludwa collaborated with Everett McCorvey, a fellow voice professor from the University of Kentucky; and Rhea Olivaccé, a soprano soloist with an international career and a professor of voice at Western Michigan University; to create Awake! Arise!, a musical dialogue about the lived Black experience, in contrast to what it is perceived to be. The work was a challenge to audiences to acknowledge injustice and change the world, which featured music from Johann Sebastian Bach’s 500-year-old cantata Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, and the words of Black artists, activists and authors such as Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., Amanda Gorman and Valyn Turner.

Ludwa previously worked in professional music roles for employers such as the Federated Church of Cleveland, Cuyahoga Community College, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Leonard Bernstein-inspired Artful Learning School Reform Model at the GRAMMY Foundation and the International School of Indiana. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education, a Master of Music and a DMA in Conducting and Leadership Studies from Indiana University.

College Singers Rehearse Social Justice-Themed Concert
Assistant Professor of Music Chris Ludwa, seen here directing the College Singers, is one of three faculty members to earn tenure this year.

Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Assistant Professor of German Studies Kathryn Sederberg

Sederberg teaches beginning, intermediate and advanced German as well as Contemporary German Culture and senior seminars on varying topics.

In 2021, Sederberg received a national honor, the Goethe‐Institut/American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) Certificate of Merit, for her achievements in furthering the teaching of German in the U.S. through creative activities, innovative curriculum, successful course design and significant contributions to the profession. She was just one of five educators between high schools and colleges from around the country to earn the honor.

In 2022, Sederberg spent a month at the University of London in its Institute of Modern Languages, conducting research through a Miller Fellowship in Exile Studies. In that research, she sifted through thousands of passages from the diaries of Jewish people who migrated away from Nazi territories in the 1930s and 40s. The experience led her to create a sophomore seminar offered this winter, Bearing Witness: Holocaust Literature and Testimony.

Sederberg holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Tenure recipient Kathryn Sederberg pointing at a blackboard
Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Assistant Professor of German Studies Kathryn Sederberg is one of three tenure recipients this year at K.

Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies Aurélie Chatton

Chatton pursues teaching and interests in the poetics of globalization inspired by the philosophical concepts of Martinican thinker Edouard Glissant. Her research explores 20th and 21st century theatre and performance as well as the history and aesthetic of French cinema.  

She has published articles on contemporary French and francophone artists in literature, cinema and theatre, including Wajdi Mouawad (2021), Aki Kaurismäki (2022) and Bernard-Marie Koltès. She is currently working on a book project in which she shows the shared thinking among a number of interdisciplinary and contemporary artists and the philosophy of Edouard Glissant. 

At K, Chatton also designed the first Languages Film Festival, taking place each year.  

Tenure recipient Aurélie Chatton
Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies Aurélie Chatton is one of three tenure recipients this year at K.

Before coming to K, Chatton taught at Columbia University and New York University, where she developed a variety of classes from elementary language courses to upper-level literature and culture courses.  

Chatton received her Ph.D. from the Department of French Literature, Thought and Culture at NYU. She received a teaching certificate from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Teaching program at NYU in 2010 and a Blended Learning Award from Columbia in 2015. 

K President Named to ACE Board of Directors

Kalamazoo College President Jorge G. Gonzalez was named today to serve on the Board of Directors for the American Council on Education (ACE), the major coordinating body for the nation’s colleges and universities. His term will start after the ACE annual meeting April 15 and run through September 2026. 

ACE is a membership organization that mobilizes the higher education community toward shaping effective public policy and professional practice to benefit students, communities and the public good. More than 1,700 colleges and universities, related associations and other organizations in the U.S. and abroad make ACE the only major higher education association to represent two-year and four-year, public and private degree-granting institutions.

“I’m honored to be joining the ACE board as an institutional representative of the Council of Independent Colleges,” Gonzalez said. “I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues to support the work of ACE, an organization that advocates for educational innovation and champions equity and access to a high-quality education for all students.”

Gonzalez has served as K’s president since July 2016 and has been a fierce advocate of the liberal arts. He previously served Occidental College as its vice president for academic affairs and dean from 2010–2016. Before working at Occidental, Gonzalez was an economics faculty member at Trinity University for 21 years.

Gonzalez served as the president of the International Trade and Finance Association in 2014. He is the president of the Board of the F.W. and Elsie L. Heyl Science Scholarship Fund and serves on the boards of the Annapolis Group, Michigan Independent Colleges and Universities, Michigan Colleges Alliance, Bronson Healthcare Group, Kalamazoo Community Foundation and the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

“I deeply appreciate Jorge’s service to the ACE Board of Directors and dedication to helping ACE carry out our mission to mobilize American higher education for the good of our students and communities,” ACE President Ted Mitchell said.

Read today’s announcement from ACE on its website.

Kalamazoo College President Jorge G. Gonzalez named to ACE Board of Directors
Kalamazoo College President Jorge G. Gonzalez will serve on the Board of Directors for the American Council on Education (ACE), the major coordinating body for the nation’s colleges and universities.