Top 2023 Student Stories Celebrate SIPs, Research, Work Abroad

Kalamazoo College students exemplified academic excellence and achieved amazing accomplishments around campus and around the world in 2023. Based on your clicks, here are the top 10 K student stories from the past year. Watch for our top news stories of faculty and staff, alumni and the College itself coming soon.

10. Math Meets Poetry to Form Distinctive Senior Project

Lizzy Rottenberk is merging her passions of math and poetry. Together, they form “Academic Tangents,” where she integrates calculus theorems with poetry structures and contexts. The Senior Integrated Project (SIP) consists of reflective poems related to academic struggles with five different math concepts represented: functions, limits, derivatives, sequences and series, and anti-derivatives.

Lizzy Rottenberk ’24

9. K Student Builds Notable Voice in Sustainability

Lauren Crossman ’23 visited 22 small businesses in Kalamazoo to discuss their environmental practices, present an environmental report card, and help them create sustainability-related goals for her SIP. With happy business owners saving money, she presented her work at the Kalamazoo State Theatre in March during Green Drinks Kalamazoo, a monthly networking event of city businesses and friends.

Lauren Crossman presents her sustainability SIP at Green Drinks Kalamazoo
Lauren Crossman ’23 presented her work at the Kalamazoo State Theatre in March during Green Drinks Kalamazoo, a monthly networking event of city businesses and friends that addresses sustainability.

8. Senior Earns First Sherbin Fellowship, 10 Months Abroad

Elle Waldron ’23—a women, gender and sexuality (WGS) major—is visiting a variety of feminist and gender-equity organizations to witness the tools and strategies they use to execute their work and complete their goals thanks to a new fellowship established by Robert Sherbin ’79.

She hopes those investigations will yield long-term relationships with people from around the world and allow her to consult those people regularly in the future. She would also like it to help her become a better critical thinker and define feminism from a global perspective as it’s influenced by a variety of historical and cultural contexts.

Elle Waldron ’23

7. Future Physician Targets Tropical Diseases in Ghana

Rachel Kramer ’23 completed 10 weeks of research to investigate Neglected Tropical Diseases and health inequities in Ghana, Africa. She since has moved on to attend the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine.

Rachel Kramer in a classroom full of children
Rachel Kramer ’23 collecting blood samples from schoolchildren for tropical disease research.

6. Search for Better, Safer Cycling Leads Class to Local Partners, Denmark

The class Wheels of Change, offered for the first time, worked closely with community partners, including the City of Kalamazoo, the Open Roads Bike Program and K’s own Outdoor Programs, to explore how communities can build cycling infrastructure to better support residents. They then traveled for a week to Copenhagen, Denmark, to see how one of the world’s best for cycling infrastructure can provide lessons for Kalamazoo.

The Wheels of Change class pictured in Denmark inspired A Better Way to K Day
To top off the class, Professor of English Amelia Katanski’s Wheels of Change first-year seminar traveled for a week to Copenhagen, Denmark.

5. Holy Cow! That Baseball Broadcaster is a K student

When significant sports moments are celebrated, fans turn to broadcasters for the words that will help make those moments historic. Zach Metz ’25 doesn’t yet have something like “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” to call his own, but he’s been preparing to be a broadcaster for years. And this summer, he interned as the play-by-play livestream broadcaster with the Grand Lake Mariners in Celina, Ohio, one of 14 cities with a Great Lakes Summer Collegiate Baseball League team.

Grand Lake Mariners Broadcaster Zach Metz
Zach Metz ’25 was the livestream broadcaster for the Grand Lake Mariners, a Great Lakes Summer Baseball League team in Celina, Ohio.

4. Walking Alone, Gathering Together: Solitude and Community on the Camino de Santiago

Fiona O’Rielly ’23 set out on a sweltering, 500-mile hike across Spain along the ancient pilgrimage route Camino de Santiago. The interviews she conducted with other walkers along the way, formed the basis for her Spanish SIP, Caminando el Camino: Una experiencia de comunidad. 

Fiona O’Rielly ’23 stops at one of the albergues, or hostels, along the Camino de Santiago to stay the night.

3. Student Openly Shares Her Research to Tackle Chagas Disease

Erin Somsel ’24 is working with Associate Professor of Chemistry Dwight Williams and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative on developing a treatment for Chagas disease, which spreads through a parasite often called the kissing bug, as it damages the heart and other vital organs when the bug bites humans.

Erin Somsel researching Chagas disease
Erin Somsel ’24

2. Six New Heyl Scholars Choose K

Six Kalamazoo County students seeking to major in STEM-related fields earned Heyl Scholarships last spring and chose to attend K beginning in the fall.

Heyl scholarships have enabled hundreds of high school graduates from Kalamazoo County to attend Kalamazoo College for STEM-focused majors or Western Michigan University for nursing, with renewable benefits for up to four years that cover tuition, fees, housing and a book allowance. 

2023-24 Heyl Scholars in a group photo
Riley Sackett (from left), Kelcey Briggs, Ava Schwachter, Jason Krawczyk, Pauline Hawkes, Abigail Eilertson, Benjamin Whitsett and Anthony Valade are this year’s Heyl Scholars. Schwachter, Krawczyk, Hawkes, Eilertson, Whitsett and Valade matriculated at Kalamazoo College.

1. Kicker’s Catch Makes College Football History

Madison Barch ’24 had already been the first woman to score a point for the K football team by booting an extra point in a 2021 game. But an improvised two-point conversion in her last game this year gave her what are believed to be the first non-kicking points tallied by a woman at any level in the history of NCAA football.

Student-athlete Madison Barch ’24 recognizes the support she receives from family when she discusses her football achievements. They include (from left) brother-in-law, Josh Abate; second-oldest sister, Mackenzie Abate; dad, Peter Barch next to Madison; her mom, Michele Barch; oldest sister, Meaghan Barch; younger sister, Marissa Barch; and cousin, Amanda Krieger.