Alumni Profile • Kim Huyser '03
A storyteller's calling

Kim Huyser“Telling a story that needs to be told” is how Kim Huyser ’03 defines her work as a Christian sociologist. “When we hear the words ‘agent of renewal,’ we think we have to do big things. But one of the ways I think that I can make a difference is by listening to other people’s stories and sharing them.”

This is one of the reasons Huyser feels called to the specialty she is pursuing in her graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Huyser was on Calvin’s campus recently, sharing some of the highlights of her research thus far. Her lecture, “So, You Wanna Be a Soldier: American Indian Warrior Tradition in the U.S. Military,” was the second annual presentation in the Alumni Lecture Series.

Research for her master’s thesis proved that much is known about the socioeconomic attainment of veterans in white and African-American cultures, but much less is known about American Indian outcomes.

“That’s my piece of the story that I want to tell,” she said.

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So, You Wanna Be a Soldier?
American Indian Warrior Tradition in the U.S. Military

Listen to this lecture by Kim Huyser in RealAudio (52 minutes, 29 seconds)

Huyser feels it is an important story to tell because of the history of American Indians in the military. Huyser said American Indians are the smallest pan-ethnic group in the United States, comprising 1 percent of the U.S. population, but have a 33 percent (or 1-in-3 per capita) military participation rate. Knowing this statistic, questions arise on what contributes to having such an outstanding military participation record.

Answering those questions and more is a natural passion for Huyser, who grew up on the Navajo reservation in Window Rock, Ariz. Her mother, Mary, is Navajo; her father, Dan, is Dutch.

“My parents believed that it would benefit their children to grow up in the Navajo environment,” said Huyser, who has two siblings. “It is a very peaceful and nurturing environment, focused on harmony with the world.”

Huyser said Calvin was a natural choice for her, as her upbringing also involved the Christian Reformed community and her father was a Calvin alumnus.

“When I was here, ‘minds in the making’ as a new tagline for Calvin was just coming out,” she said. “What I found out was that really is what Calvin is all about. Calvin fosters your whole person so that you are able to think and comprehend for yourself.”

As a participant in the Calvin College Graduate Study Fellowship Program for Prospective Faculty of Color, Huyser will return to teach at Calvin upon completing her doctoral degree.

“I hope that in returning to Calvin, my presence and perspective can contribute to the wider diversity on campus,” she said. “I have experienced a lot of things, especially growing up in the culture that I did, and I hope sharing my story can help contribute to that goal.”