When Abby Zwart ’13 graduated from Calvin, she wondered if she would have an opportunity to keep writing. As editor of the student newspaper Chimes, she had been immersed in the world of daily writing and editing. As an alum seeking a position as an English teacher, she knew her priorities would be different.
“The post Calvin: Thirty under thirty, post-diploma” came along at the perfect time for her and others.
Launched in July, the blog features 30 Calvin grads, one each day of the month, reflecting on life after college. Zwart is one of the writers and co-curator of the online publication.
“My favorite thing about the blog so far is that I’ve been able to meet people in a way that we don’t often meet each other: through writing. Each writer has submitted five or six pieces now, and I’ve come to know a lot about these people. … I love opening my inbox each day to find another slice of someone’s life,” Zwart said.
Last spring, student writers at Calvin inspired the idea for the blog. “I asked my creative writing class, ‘What have you been most encouraged and discouraged about?’” said English professor Deb Rienstra. “They answered that they were discouraged about how they were going to be able to write after graduation.
“It was so sad,” she said. “We talked in the department about how we could encourage them to keep writing.”
Rienstra brainstormed with colleague Sarina Moore to develop the idea of “The post Calvin.” They approached the alumni association to help with some small startup costs from the Catalyst Fund, which supports projects that will become self-sustainable and help the alumni association further its “connect/strengthen/inspire” strategic plan.
Calvin alum Josh deLacy ’13 designed the site and serves as co-curator and writer. Finding other writers was not difficult, as Calvin’s burgeoning writing major is the largest of the English department’s three programs, with 65 students currently in the program.
“Many of our writers appreciate the space to practice their writing or experiment with a different style. We often comment on each other’s pieces, and it’s nice to get encouragement from other writers,” said Zwart. “Our readers, I hope, enjoy the blog because it’s a genuine, honest look at what post-grad life is like. We don’t shy away from tough topics. … Readers get a great variety of material: humor, philosophy, storytelling, adventure, grief, celebration, faith, sports, media. You never hear the same thing twice.”
To date, the blog has had more than 6,000 unique visitors, with most posts averaging more than 100 views.
“We’re hearing from 22- to 30-year-olds, an age group we don’t usually hear from until they are established,” said Rienstra. “It’s a fascinating window into their lives. They write about changes, moving, the agony of decision-making, babies, weddings.
“As a department it’s so gratifying to watch their writing develop and to provide this venue for them to continue to develop their unique voices,” she said. “I hope more people take the time to enjoy hearing from this captivating group.”