“The Macalester moment is that single moment of realization and self-discovery that may stay with you for the rest of your life—if you let it.”
–Danai Gurira ’01, actor and award-winning playwright

In this moment in history, as we wrestle bigger, global challenges, the world needs Macalester. It needs students and graduates with grit and creativity who can work as empathetic leaders and changemakers. It needs citizens with diverse perspectives who’ve found their voices and use them thoughtfully.

This fall, the college launches a $100 million fundraising campaign, inspired by students, alumni, and their Macalester moments. It’s a targeted investment that builds on Macalester’s many strengths and enhances a sense of ownership among our alumni. It’s our opportunity to define the Macalester experience for new generations.

We asked alumni to reflect on the moments that changed how they view the world, face challenges, and take action:

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“For the first time, I was like, ‘Oh, I might not be right.’ This Western civilization of learning, all of these hegemonic systems, might not be right.” –Emily Nadel ’18

“I came to college thinking, ‘This is what I believe, and I know this, and I know how to do this.’ And now I have no clue what I believe. I can pinpoint the difference between pre-doubt and now post-doubt. It was a lecture that Earl Schwartz gave in the fall of my junior year, a month before the 2016 election. I remember him telling us that, ‘When you talk to another person, you have to have doubt that what you are saying is right. And they have to have some doubt that what they are saying is right. Because if you don’t, you’re just telling them what you think, and they’re just telling you what they think, and then you’ve spent a half-hour talking past each other.’ I raised my hand and asked, ‘Okay, so what happens when there is a fundamental difference? What happens when you have a conversation with someone who believes something really different than you do in a way that is hurtful?’ He just said, ‘Well, that’s where the challenge is. I’m figuring that out myself.’ That was the moment where I thought, ‘Okay, so that’s what the challenge is.’ It’s not so much of trying to convince you that I am right. It’s just that communicating is hard. That was a reorientation to how I interacted with people on this campus, and it was a reorientation to how I learned about people and histories the world over. For the first time, I was like, ‘Oh, I might not be right.’ This Western civilization of learning, all of these hegemonic systems, might not be right.”
–Emily Nadel ’18

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Ann MIllin

“I’m proud to say there that I went to Macalester. It immediately brings smiles to people’s faces.”
–Ann Millin ’69

“Mac professors don’t just teach you their subject. They teach you about life, and they teach you life skills. I can’t count the amount of times we heard this from our professors: ‘You’re the future, the world belongs to you, you’re responsible for it, go and change it and make it better.” The late ‘60s were turbulent years in this country, and Mac kept our feet on the ground but also said, ‘Engage with the world, and here’s how you do it.’ That shaped a generation of leaders. I work in Washington, D.C., and I’m proud to say there that I went to Macalester. It immediately brings smiles to people’s faces.” –Ann Millin ’69

Don Olson

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“I didn’t even know what the word ‘ethics’ meant when I arrived here. Dr. White’s ethics class invaded a lot of my thinking, in terms of understanding what’s right and wrong. I went on to graduate school at the University of Minnesota and became an administrator at a hospital for 33 years. Knowing what’s right and wrong when you’re running a hospital is very important. That class was a foundation for me.” –Don Olson ’58

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Mary Fisher

“I made it through Macalester, and inside, I was like, ‘I did it.’
—Mary Fisher

“My biggest dream is to open a school in Cambodia and reform the education system there. I came to the United States in the middle of sixth grade with no English, with nothing. I studied really hard, and in high school, I enrolled in the IB program. I made it through Macalester, and inside, I was like, ‘I did it.’ I came from such a long way, and finally I’m here, and now it’s my turn to keep going and give back to the community.”
–Mary Fisher ’18

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“I had never protested anything in my life until I got to Macalester. The Vietnam War was raging when we were here. We protested the war movement a great deal, and a lot of us tried to get out the vote for George McGovern when he ran against Richard Nixon. That was my first time getting involved politically. Unfortunately, he didn’t win, but we learned that our voices are important, and that it’s important to try to change things. Macalester taught me about activism.”–Broderick Grubb ’73

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David Wick

“A conversation with [Russian studies professor] James von Geldern still resonates with me. He said, ‘Maybe the dance piece you’re making is your final paper for this class, and maybe your voice can be more powerful in the world through your creative work in dance than through another comparative lit research paper.’ That comes back to me often when I’m faced with challenging decisions about how to spend my time or where to use my strengths.”–David Wick ’91

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Firat Taydas

“In my sophomore year, my host family and I were having a conversation about making a difference. When you come to Macalester, that’s a giant question: how am I going to make a difference in the world? We were on their patio, and Barb said, ‘Honey, you could make a difference in the world just by making a difference in people’s daily lives.’ That was the moment for me when I saw how important it was to connect with people. That’s what Macalester provides. It’s all about connections, about making those relationships.”
–Firat Taydas ’92

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“Dr. Johnson in the psychology department was the first person that I remember, in writing—rather than futzing around the realities of racism, because I didn’t use that word—to say, ‘John, it’s okay. Call it what it is: racism.’ That was a turning point for me. I was one of 10 black students on a campus of 2,000 in 1964. It was a very different world. Dr. Johnson gave me the support and impetus to be who I was and who I hope I have become.” –John West ’68

Jennifer Gobel

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“After Macalester, I spent nine years in medical school, pediatrics residency, and pediatric cardiology. Though I had wonderful teachers, the first year of medical school was a hard adjustment because I was used to small class sizes and professors who cared whether you showed up. One time I missed chemistry because I was sick, and Dr. [Emil] Slowinski called me to ask if I was okay. My Mac professors cared about how I was doing, all the time.” –Jennifer Gobel ’81″

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“I realized that his talk wasn’t just about raising money. It was about alumni being able to give back, the opportunity that giving provides.”
—Amy Pahl

“At Macalester, I was a nontraditional student who worked 40 hours a week. Financial aid was the only way I could go to college, and it was a big part of my opportunity at Macalester. I remember going to an economics department reception for seniors. At the small gathering, Professor Karl Egge talked about looking forward but also looking back: ‘Remember what Macalester has provided for you, everything that’s important about these college years. Pass it on. Help other students if you have the opportunity; when you have the means, give back. Give back of your time and energy; give back financially.’ At the time, I was a little flip about it—I thought he was just fundraising. But 10 or 15 years later, it clicked. I took it to heart. I realized that his talk wasn’t just about raising money. It was about alumni being able to give back, the opportunity that giving provides. There’s no better feeling. Now I connect my desire to give with that moment, when Professor Egge was reminding us as students to really cherish our college experience and translate that into something you can pass along—financially or otherwise.” –Amy Pahl ’90

To donate, volunteer to support the campaign, or share your Macalester moment: macalester.edu/campaign

October 1 2018

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