By Mira Berkson
“I don’t like to talk about myself,” began Angie Story.
Luckily, though talking about herself may not come easy, elaborating on her passion for Grinnell and her work in the Assistive Tech lab seems to spark Story’s passion, as her decades of experiences with the town and college come with a lot of good memories, excitement and hope.
Story has lived near Grinnell her entire life, having grown up in nearby Malcolm, IA, getting her undergraduate degree at Grinnell and continuing to work at the College in the Assistive Technology lab. Having been at the College for nearly 40 years, she’s gotten to see many waves of changes.
“When I was a student, we smoked in class. It’s a very different vibe from what there is now. The interactions with faculty were different. We hung out more, I guess, with the faculty. It’s a culture shift,” Story said. “The drinking age was different back then, we used to go out with faculty and it didn’t seem as much of a big deal then. … It’s just a sign of the times.”
Some social aspects on campus seemed more relaxed in the late 60s, though students still faced high levels of stress at the college. Especially with her current role working closely with students, Story has insight on how student stresses have changed.
“The pressures and the stresses are a lot different now than they were then. It’s our society, and things are different. There are a lot of things that you all have to be concerned about that I don’t feel I had those same pressures,” Story said. “And it worries me, it worries me for my kids, growing up in this time and seeing the changes that I do.”
Working at the College is very fulfilling for Story. She currently has two roles: supervising faculty as a coordinator with Academic Support and for the past 3.5 years she has worked with Assistive Technology. This has been especially fulfilling for Story, as it has given her the opportunity to work one-on-one with students.
“I love working with the students. I love seeing how we can help them with giving them the same access as everyone else, and it’s really rewarding. … I really want students to know that there are those of us who really care about students, we really want to help and help you be successful. That you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help and it isn’t a sign of weakness,” Story said.
Moving forward she hopes to expand the range of students that the Assistant Tech Lab might reach.
“I have students come in that don’t have accommodations, but they’re wanting to know about study skills or apps that they can purchase on their own that would help them and I’m more than happy to talk with students about that,” Story said. “I don’t see us as you can only come in and use the lab if you have accommodations. I want it to be a more inclusive place for everybody.”
Motherhood is ingrained in Story’s identity, and she has to remind herself not to slip into that role with students.
“That’s what’s hard for me, is to realize that you’re young adults, and you’re not my kid and I can’t fix everything. And to leave my mom hat at home, I guess,” Story said. “I try to keep that separate, and to remember what it’s like to be your age. … Sometimes you have to let them make their own mistakes.”
Having much experience with both the College and the town of Grinnell, Story has insight on how the relationship between these two groups might not be so divided after all.
“When I was younger, in high school especially, we were the ‘townies,’ even not living in Grinnell but in the neighboring communities. And there was a very distinct separation, it’s like ‘them’ and ‘us’…I have felt over the years that there’s not such a divide, the lines aren’t so rigid.”
Story’s life in small towns never left her feeling like she was missing out on something else, and her busy life has never provided any reason to think it should.
“We have our own kind of hustle and bustle here,” Story said. “I have never really felt isolated here, and I know some people might. I think it’s a great place to raise families, and I think that’s probably why I’ve never left.”
Story has grown strong roots in Grinnell and shows great pride for the place she calls home, and carries that with her everyday as she works to create a comfortable environment for the many students and staff she sees every day.