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Adam Gronewold
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Adam Gronewold

Graduation year: 2019

Hometown: Galena, Ill.

Majors: Engineering physics, applied mathematics

Activities: Student Government Association, Office of Student Life, Augustana Physics and Engineering Society, Sigma Pi Sigma physics honor society, Pi Mu Epsilon mathematics honor society, Phi Beta Kappa

Internships: (1) Geotechnical engineering intern with IMEG Corporation, and (2) summer research assistant at Baylor College of Medicine through Augustana’s Texas Medical Center internship program

Post-grad plans: Starting in September, I will be attending the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, seeking a master's and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering! I am thrilled to make this next step!

Why Augustana? 

I felt like I was at home when I first visited Augustana, and I could tell very early on that the faculty cared deeply about their students. I wanted to be a part of that community. Augustana also made it incredibly realistic for me to afford to attend college and to pursue my dreams. Our school has followed through on this commitment, and I am forever thankful for the opportunities that have been made possible for me.

Are you where you thought you’d be when you first came to campus?

Absolutely not! I came to Augustana as a football recruit and still involved in choir. My priorities changed; I’ve grown academically; I’ve grown in my political beliefs; I’ve traveled; I’ve struggled in ways I wouldn't have imagined; and I’ve experienced victories that were equally unimaginable. Obviously when we start things as people, we have goals and expectations, but as life moves with you, you grow as a person.

I never thought I'd be involved in student government, pick up a second major in applied mathematics, travel to so many new places, and now I have the chance to pursue graduate studies at an amazing institution! My time at Augustana has been a whirlwind, but I wouldn't change it for anything, and while I might not be where I imagined, I know I am where I belong.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

Frankly, there are so many people to thank:

My professors Dr. Vogel, Dr. Sward, Dr. Dyer, Dr. Clauss, Dr. Kaul, Dr. Stewart, Dr. Frank, Dr. Storl, Dr. van Howe, Dr. Bengtson, Dr. Wetzel and many more deserve an otherworldly amount of gratitude. These people have helped me through so much as a young man. I remember a time distinctly during my freshman year where I was not in the best place and where it seemed like outside factors were piling up. Not once did a faculty member turn me away when I asked for help. They have guided me not only academically, but also in developing a firm sense of self and a better understanding of the impact we can have in this world.

The faculty members at Augustana are phenomenal, and I can confidently say that I would not be where I am without them. Especially in the physics and math departments, many have become valuable friends. Thank you all.

Ken Brill—This is a man I respect deeply, and I can't express just how much he has impacted my life. In many ways, Ken's contribution to my growth and my time at Augustana is intangible, but he undoubtedly is someone I look up to. Ken has continually encouraged me to engage my creativity; to think critically about how we can impact others through small acts of kindness; and finally to lead, to follow, and to understand the difference. Like my professors, I know that Ken is someone who will remain in my life following Augustana. Thank you, Ken.

I'd also like to thank so many friends and my family. With many of my relationships, there is a strong level of accountability. My friends have kept me in line and pushed me to do more and to be more. They have also challenged me on my worldview and my thinking, which leads to necessary development. Finally, they have taught me how to relax and to appreciate the little things in life. I hope I've impacted them as much as they have impacted me, and I hope they know how much they all mean to me. Thank you.

Finally, thank you to everyone at Augustana. My time here has instrumentally changed my life for the better.

Peak experience?

It has truly been a pleasure to serve my peers as our Student Government Association president. Being able to voice the concerns and desires of the student body with professionals in higher education comes with a fair amount of responsibility, and I have never neglected that responsibility. That desire to improve the student experience here and to move forward even in the face of challenges exposed me to many ways I could improve as a person and leader. Serving in this role has allowed me to discover so much about myself: my tenacity, my true capability, my priorities, my role, my value. The whole year has been a journey I won't soon forget.

What surprised you?

I was surprised by my ability in math and physics. The topics are notoriously challenging, and I wasn't expecting to thrive in this environment. I have always had a love for the subjects, but I was surprised to learn just how much I was capable of in this realm. Thankfully, it has paid off and all the time I have invested in pursuing these studies has placed me in a position as I move into graduate school where I know I will be able to hold my own.

How did you use Augie Choice?

I used my Augie Choice to go on a study away experience in Italy with the Augustana football team. Although I didn't play all four years, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

What will you miss the most?

The people—simple as that.

Advice for the Class of 2023?

Pay close attention to all the people who make your journey possible, even in the smallest ways. The community at Augustana is incredibly tight-knit, and most people want you to be successful. So many individuals have paid it forward for me as an Augustana student—I hope to return the favor some day.

“Adam has been a demonstrated leader on campus, especially in his role as president of SGA. His willingness to engage with his peers and with faculty alike sets an example that other students can’t help but follow. He was awarded the prestigious Rossing Physics Scholarship for undergraduate physics majors, one of only three students nationwide to receive the prize this year. Great job, Adam!”

– Dr. James Wetzel, assistant professor, physics