The Kofi Annan Ping Pong Table in the Leonard Center has probably never seen a player the likes of Henry Klaverkamp ’17. The first-year student from St. Louis Park, Minn., is a state-ranked table tennis player, having last year won the Minnesota Under 18 and the High School Singles titles.

Unlike most top players, he didn’t get serious about the sport until age 13, when his father saw a newspaper article about competitive table tennis. “I went down to the local club and just got killed,” Klaverkamp remembers, “and that sparked a fire in me.” Soon he had a coach and was practicing and playing up to 25 hours a week. Because St. Louis Park is a Twin Cities suburb, Klaverkamp continues to play and compete at his hometown club, as well as coaching younger players there.  But as of October, he hadn’t yet wielded a paddle at Mac.

Klaverkamp is just one among many Macalester students—1,978 this year—who bring a wealth of talents and interests to 1600 Grand. Here are a few more:

Rubik’s cube champ: Dex Nguyen ’17

Inspired by a Rubik’s cube champ he saw on TV as a ninth grader, Dex Nguyen ’17 (Hanoi, Vietnam) took up the sport of speed cubing himself and two years later could solve one in 11 seconds. “I loved how fast they spin so I bought one and started practicing,” he explains.

Soon he’d taught friends, organized competitions at school, and watched the hobby spread throughout Hanoi. In 2010 he was named one-handed and blindfolded speed cubing champion of his country, and at an Asian competition in Bangkok in 2011—with 300 competitors—he was among the top 30. Here at Mac he claims to not practice much, but still carries three Rubik’s cubes in his backpack.

Mitten vendor: Sarah Vandelist ’15

Vandelist, a sociology major, is running her own small business called Swag Mittens ( She makes and sells mittens made from recycled sweaters, and even has her own production studio on nearby University Avenue. Swag Mittens, which takes about 10 to 15 hours of Vandelist’s time each week, was featured in last month’s issue of Mpls/St. Paul Magazine and will be a prominent vendor at a Twin Cities handcraft expo this month. Says Vandelist, “We pride ourselves on producing a Minnesota-made, high quality product made from recycled materials, at affordable prices.”

Video star: Hannah Scout Field ’17

She started with a decade of violin lessons. Since grade school, however, Hannah Scout Field has also taught herself cello and guitar and is currently taking piano lessons. Oh, and she has a lovely voice, which she shows off in Mac’s Concert Choir, on her many solo videos and EPs ( and with her local bands, Grand Dynasty and Boyds and Girls.

After only six weeks at Mac, Field had plenty of new musical possibilities in the offing: “I’ve met a bunch of musicians who are very talented and we already have some stuff planned on what we want to do,” she says. Her videos show off pop, blues, folk, and other styles. “I’ve never been one type of musician,” she says. “Opportunity after opportunity presents itself, I’m always saying yes, and one thing leads to another. It’s been lots of fun.”

African agricultural organizer: John Sankara ’15

The first graduate of African Leadership Academy (founded by Fred Swaniker ’99) to study at Macalester, John Sankara started an income-generating project for village women while still in high school. Instead of women individually carrying their goat and cow milk to market, Sankara arranged for all the milk to be picked up and delivered to the marketplace. He also started a ranch for animals on a small plot of ground that once belonged to his grandfather. The ranch and co-op are now run by the women themselves, and economics major Sankara is now helping minority businesspeople in the Twin Cities.

Watercolorist: Cora Trout ’16

At the Highlander Bookstore last summer, Cora Trout ’16 (Columbia, Mo.) began selling cards featuring watercolors of architectural details—including one of Old Main. A French major who has been an artist “ever since I could hold a pencil,” Trout started the greeting card line with her mother, Carlynn White Trout ’82, serving as business manager. Fond of painting buildings, Trout has so far only tackled Old Main on the Macalester campus. But that could change, she says: When she has more time she’d like to paint Weyerhaeuser and maybe the chapel. Meanwhile, her Old Main cards sold out the first week.

November 1 2013

Back to top