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 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.”

Denim Day Supports Sexual Assault, Violence Survivors

National Denim Day flyers
Vicenza Military Community participates in International Denim Day by US Army Africa is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

The Kalamazoo College community is invited to participatein person, virtually and through social mediain a variety of events for National Denim Day on Wednesday, April 28, a day that supports survivors of sexual assault and sexual violence.

Patricia Giggins, a Los Angeles-based activist and executive director of Peace Over Violence, launched Denim Day in 1999 in response to an Italian Supreme Court decision that overturned a rape conviction. The court ruled that an 18-year-old woman who brought rape charges against a 45-year-old driving instructor must have consented to the assault because her jeans were tight. In other words, it was assumed that the assailant could not have removed her jeans without her help.

The absurdity of the decision prompted women in the Italian Parliament to wear jeans the next day to stand in solidarity with the survivor. Although the ruling was ultimately overturned, the annual Denim Day campaign has continued to raise awareness of sexual assault and violence.

K students, faculty and staff can participate through social media by wearing denim and sharing their pictures through Instagram using #DenimDayatK and following @kc_s.p.e.a.k, the Sexual Peer Educator Alliance at Kalamazoo College (SPEAK).

In other offerings for the day, the Office of Sexual Violence Prevention and Advocacy will provide information from the Kalamazoo YWCA, the College’s Counseling Center, Planned Parenthood and SPEAK, in addition to resources on victim services and Title IX, from 4 to 6 p.m. at tables outside Hicks Student Center.

Also, join survivors and allies from 7 to 9 p.m. to show support and listen to stories of survivorship from gender-based violence in a Take Back the Night Speakout. Anyone interested can join the rally at the Quad or participate virtually. Participants may also submit anonymous survivor stories. YWCA counselors will be available for Telehealth sessions.

The events are sponsored by several offices at K including its Office of Sexual Violence Prevention and Advocacy. Learn more about its efforts during April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, at

K Students Inspire Girls to Explore STEM Through Sisters in Science

Sisters in Science
Through Sisters in Science, Kalamazoo College students use hands-on lessons, experiments and field trips, such as this field trip to the Lillian Anderson Arboretum, to encourage Northglade Montessori fourth- and fifth-graders to learn about science.

When the world celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Feb. 11, a Kalamazoo College student organization will be doing what it can to inspire local fourth- and fifth-graders.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, K’s Sisters in Science (SIS) visits Northglade Montessori Magnet School to encourage girls to seek an education and career in the sciences. The visits, coordinated through Kalamazoo Communities in Schools, involve hands-on lessons, experiments and field trips that nurture interest in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). This allows SIS members to serve as role models, and local youths to grow their dreams of future achievements.

“We want to provide these girls with an influential woman in their lives,” said Marjorie Wolfe ’20, a SIS member and chemistry major from Kalamazoo. “A lot of them don’t come from backgrounds where a career in science seems accessible. We’re showing these girls they can go to college, do research and become doctors, engineers and more. We serve as sisters, mentors and examples of what they can become.”

According to the United Nations, less than 30 percent of scientific researchers in the world are women and only about 30 percent of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. Female representation is especially low professionally in information and communication technology at 3 percent; natural science, mathematics and statistics at 5 percent; and engineering at 8 percent.

To reverse these trends, the U.N. General Assembly established the International Day of Women and Girls in Science to celebrate women scientists and build equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. About 40 SIS members, including Karina Aguilar ’22, a biology and Spanish double major from Albuquerque, New Mexico, are doing their part to bolster that effort.

“Last year, in between two labs, I would go to Sisters in Science and do a nice, fun thing before I had to do something serious for four hours,” Aguilar said. “When you’re a student, it’s easy to be wrapped up in what’s happening on campus — we call it the K bubble. This helps us break that bubble, serve the community and be a mentor. It gives us a portal to the community.”

Aguilar hopes SIS experiments this year will include a lesson in making ice cream, although her favorite experiment to date involved a bridge-building contest that her little sister won. Such experiments, Wolfe said, help the fourth- and fifth-graders understand the scientific process and get them excited to be in school. Aguilar and Wolfe agreed the age group is critical in recruiting girls in science because they’re starting to learn what interests them most in school and they have yet to decide what classes to pursue for themselves.

“Initially, the first few times we’re at the school, we’re just trying to show we’re friendly and gain their respect,” Wolfe said. “That can go a long way for these girls. Eventually, we help them fill out worksheets that teach them what a hypothesis is. Before you know it, we’re working on an experiment and they say, ‘Oh! I know what the hypothesis will be!’”

When asked what she would do if she one day saw that one of her little sisters achieved a scientific breakthrough, Wolfe said, “The cool part would be knowing they stuck with science and believed in themselves; that they didn’t listen to someone who told them they couldn’t do it.”

Aguilar said, “I’d probably cry. Maybe it wasn’t from me specifically, but I’d love knowing that they developed that drive to be scientists. It would be amazing to see these girls who aren’t necessarily pushed to go to college make a career for themselves in science.”

“SIS was created for exactly what Aguilar and Wolfe have stated – to give young girls the knowledge that they can do science” stated Stevens-Truss, who envisioned the group in 2001.

Bags to Benches Targets Plastic, Unites K

Bags to Benches Plastics Drive
Lezlie Lull ’20 participates in the Bags to Benches plastics drive that is uniting the Kalamazoo College community in an effort organized by the Council of Student Representatives and the Eco Club. If the campus can collect 500 pounds of plastic or 40,500 pieces of film during the six-month drive, it will receive a bench made of recycled plastic from the Trex Recycling Co. in Winchester, Virginia.

The Kalamazoo College Council of Student Representatives (KCCSR) and the Eco Club are offering a creative way for you to deal with your plastic waste—including that supply of plastic bags that seems to grow every time you shop.

From now until July, the organizations are collecting clean, dry and residue-free produce bags, closeable food-storage bags, cereal bags and more in receptacles around campus through their self-titled Bags to Benches program.

With the Bags to Benches program, a volunteer will weigh the plastic collected each month at the Hicks Student Center, Upjohn Library Commons, Dewing Hall, Dow Science Center, Anderson Athletic Center and the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership collection sites. If the Trex Recycling Co. in Winchester, Virginia, then confirms that K’s plastics drive has gathered 500 pounds or 40,500 pieces of plastic film, bags and plastic during the six-month drive, the College will receive a bench made of recycled plastic it can place on campus.

Council of Student Representatives President Karina Pantoja encourages the K community to think big when dropping off plastic. Don’t just settle for plastic grocery bags; think about bread bags, bubble wrap, dry-cleaning bags, newspaper sleeves, plastic overwrap, closeable food-storage bags and more.

She said the Bags to Benches program began as representatives were looking for a way to unite the campus and build community around a common cause. The sustainability aspect of the project is a bonus and it shows prospective students they can come to K and seek ways of acting to benefit the greater community.

“We avoided making this a competition between student groups or departments because we think it’s important for everyone to come together and work toward one goal,” said Pantoja, of Paw Paw, Michigan, who majors in English with a concentration in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. “An effort like this can tell students that someone on campus cares about sustainability, that student contributions are valued, and that student representatives exemplify their values. It’s nice to have something that sustains an optimistic and exciting energy throughout campus as all of us can come together to accomplish a goal like this.”

For questions and more ideas about how you can support the Bags to Benches program, email KCCSR at

Outdoor Leadership Conference Provides Adventure

Outdoor Leadership Conference Attendees Ready for an adventure
Eighteen Kalamazoo College students traveled to the eighth annual Midwest Outdoor Leadership Conference at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, where they affirmed K’s standing among its peers as a leader in environmental education.

Adventures are common for Kalamazoo College student organizations, and one February adventure was notable for stirring Outing Club’s devotions to pursuing outdoor activities and professions. The student group of 18 traveled to the eighth annual Midwest Outdoor Leadership Conference at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, where they affirmed K’s standing among its peers as a leader in environmental education and met peers with similar passions from around the region.

The conference, conducted annually at a different higher-education institution each year, provides undergraduates interested in outdoor-recreation careers a chance to learn from each other while networking, developing their leadership skills and building new technical skills.

“To most of the colleges attending this conference, a small college has about 5,000 students,” said Outdoor Programs Director Jory Horner, noting K’s student body of just over 1,400. “Attending this program differentiates us as a liberal arts school because the students are keeping their interest in it alive by dedicating their time. Other colleges are blown away that this is something our staff can handle with just the ingenuity and resourcefulness of our students, who receive no academic credit for it.”

All attendees are encouraged to serve as presenters during the outdoor leadership conference, including Riley Gabriel ’21 and Matt Giguere ’21, who presented on linking the principles of Leave No Trace, dedicated to leaving wild places the way others would like to find them, to everyday life. Kit Charlton ’21 also was among K’s representatives, and all of them noted how K stands out among schools attending the conference as a leader in environmental education.

“We have an emphasis on sustainability, plus comprehensive composting and a hoop house,” said Gabriel, an English major with a concentration in environmental studies from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, mentioning just a few of K’s environmental projects. “A lot of the programs we have undertaken aren’t available at other schools.”

Workshops over the conference’s two days included lessons in best practices for hiking, diversity and inclusion in outdoor education, and methods for adaptive recreation activities such as rock climbing. The event fits well with the Outing Club’s mission of providing K students with environmental awareness while teaching how to lead outdoor activities and wilderness trips.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have a committed group over the years,” said Charlton, an English and critical ethnic studies major from Berkley, Michigan, referencing K’s participation in seven of the conference’s first eight years.

The Outing Club allows K students to continue where many leave off with LandSea, the College’s outdoor orientation program offered to incoming students through Outdoor Programs. LandSea, conducted in Adirondack State Park in New York State, helps students meet their peers, gain self-confidence, earn a partial physical education credit and develop classroom skills, even before moving to campus. Outdoor Programs also offers wilderness trips over student breaks, outdoor-themed physical education classes, equipment rental and opportunities to learn wilderness first aid.

Horner “reminds us often of the differences between Outdoor Programs and Outing Club,” said Giguere, a biology major from Portage, Michigan, who attended the conference for the second consecutive year. Outing Club “encourages other students by example to get outdoors, and the support we’ve had from LandSea and Student Development has been exciting.”

Outing Club, Outdoor Programs and the Center for Environmental Stewardship will work together to extend the College’s reputation for environmental education next February as they host the Midwest Outdoor Leadership Conference Feb. 7-9 at K. Although organizers have just started making plans, they say they will incorporate K’s dedication to diversity, inclusion and social justice into their conversations.

“We’re excited to draw on the resources we have at K to bring social justice ideas into the conference and view it through that lens,” Charlton said.

Two K Student-Athletes Attend NCAA Convention

Two student-athletes represented Kalamazoo College at the 2019 NCAA Convention in Orlando, Florida, earning an insider’s look at the governance and maintenance of college sports.

Jared Pittman and Amanda Moss at NCAA Convention
Jared Pittman ’20 and Amanda Moss ’19 attended the NCAA Convention in Orlando, Florida.

Jared Pittman ’20 and Amanda Moss ’19 attended business sessions with hundreds of athletes, athletic directors and college administrators from Division I, II and III schools around the country, including K Athletic Director Becky Hall. By attending these sessions and sharing their feedback with Hall, a voting member of the NCAA, they were able to have a voice in how rules affect Division III athletes’ experiences.

Football coach Jamie Zorbo approached Pittman, a running back and captain on the football squad, about attending. Women’s basketball coach Katie Miller recommended that Moss, a guard on Miller’s team, attend. As leaders in their sports at K and as participants in the school’s Athletic Leadership Council, Pittman and Moss were logical choices, especially as they hope their careers one day involve athletics.

“It was fascinating because the NCAA president [Mark Emmert] emphasized that [the organization] is a democracy,” said Moss, who is also a midfielder for K’s women’s lacrosse team. “In addition to being informational, it was also a time for college representatives to interact and share best practices.” For example, through Division III legislation proposed at the conference, representatives agreed to drop some social media restrictions for coaches and athletic department staff to better align Division III recruiting rules with those in Divisions I and II.

“The world of college athletics is much bigger than I thought it was,” Pittman said of his experience at the convention. “It gave me a new-found appreciation for how rules and regulations are developed in college sports. It also gave me a bigger passion for all sports, because I interacted with athletes I wouldn’t otherwise know, especially those from sports K doesn’t have. Athletics can do a lot for young people.”

NCAA Convention
Jared Pittman ’20 and Amanda Moss ’19 attended the NCAA Convention with hundreds of athletes, athletic directors and college administrators from Division I, II and III schools around the country, including Athletic Director Becky Hall.

Pittman and Moss agreed an opportunity to network was their best benefit of attending at the convention.

“We were fortunate enough to travel in a group with other MIAA [Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association] athletes from schools like Calvin, Hope and Alma,” said Moss, who also has prepped for a career in sports with an NBA internship and by serving as the president and co-founder of K’s Sports Business Club. “It was enjoyable because we brought that K perspective, but heard from the schools we compete with each year. It was great because we attended business sessions during the day, and at night, we were able to explore Orlando.”

“Honestly, we didn’t talk about sports much,” Pittman said. “It was more about character and how we improve our institutions, especially with Division III being about academic experience as much as athletics.” In fact, he noted from his networking that K’s student counseling resources such as the Counseling Center and efforts related to sexual-violence prevention through groups such as Green Dot are advanced when compared with its peer institutions. “It was really cool getting to know the delegates from other MIAA schools and developing friendships,” Pittman said. I’m blessed to have the chance to attend K and compete in Division III. If I didn’t, I probably never would have had the chance to attend the convention.”

Read more about the 2019 convention and its news at the NCAA’s website.

K Student Club Goes Nuts for Squirrels

What buries food, stares at you, drags pizza across campus and runs across tree limbs in the Quad? They’re squirrels, and a group of Kalamazoo College students dedicates time to watching them.

Squirrels at Kalamazoo College
Squirrels draw a lot of attention from Kalamazoo College students, especially from those in the Squirrel-Watching Club. Marissa Castellana ’20 won the club’s photo contest in spring 2018 with this photo taken on campus.

“My housemates and I were interested in the squirrels around our house last year because it seemed like they were always doing something strange,” said Ryan Mulder ’20, a Spanish and business double major from Grand Rapids, Michigan. One of the squirrels even sounded like it was “barking” at him.

“I was so surprised because I never knew that squirrels made noises like that,” Mulder said.

That observation sparked the idea for an official student organization, the Squirrel-Watching Club.

“We knew there were similar clubs at other schools and it seemed like fun to start our own,” said Mulder, the organization’s president. “Squirrels are just so curious that it’s easy to find them doing something weird.”

About five to 10 students attend most meetings, employing binoculars and a 10-pound bag of squirrel feed to foster their observations. They also are active on social media and have conducted a squirrel photo contest.

“The most unique thing about the squirrels on K’s campus is that they’re somewhat used to the students and are more likely to interact with us,” Mulder said. “I think the most interesting encounters we have had with the squirrels on campus would not have taken place had they not grown up with so many people around.”

Mulder is among many club members on study abroad this term, so National Squirrel Appreciation Day on Jan. 21 will have to pass this year without any official club activities. However, Mulder will still mark the day.

“To celebrate National Squirrel Appreciation Day I think I will try and learn more about squirrels’ importance in the ecosystem in order to better appreciate them,” he said.

Meetings are expected to continue again soon thanks to the rascals that keep current students entertained and capture intrigue from incoming students.

“The squirrels at K are a fun distraction from schoolwork and just being outside to relax and watch them is great for the stress that can come with tough classes,” Mulder said.

Kalamazoo College has more than 70 student organizations including the Squirrel-Watching Club. For more information on the Squirrel-Watching Club, message the group through its Instagram page, @SquirrelsofKCollege.

Academy Street Winds Concert Slated for Friday

Academy Street Winds concert
The Academy Street Winds concert Friday will follow a theme of “Sacred and Profane.”

Music lovers will gather at 8 p.m. Friday for an Academy Street Winds concert at Dalton Theater in the Light Fine Arts Building.

The Academy Street Winds, formerly known as the Kalamazoo College Symphonic Band, functions as a beloved creative outlet for woodwind, brass and percussion students. Community musicians joined the ensemble in winter 2016 to expand the group’s sound and capabilities.

The group, conducted by Music Professor Thomas Evans, performs one concert each term, playing exciting arrays of challenging band music. The band is a great favorite for its members and its audiences as the programs are coordinated around diverse themes, which allow for performances of much-loved pieces, both classic and new.

The theme on Friday for the fall-term concert will be “Sacred and Profane.” Songs within the performance will include “The Imperial March” from Star Wars, written by John Williams and arranged by Paul Murtha; and “Ride of the Valkyries,” written by Richard Wagner and arranged by Robert Longfield.
Admission is free.

For more information, contact Susan Lawrence in the Music Department at 269-337-7070 or