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21 Interesting Knox Students and Alumni We Met in 2021

This past year, Knox students and alumni excelled on campus, in graduate programs, and in their careers as the COVID-19 pandemic lingered.

Cecilia Pinto ’81 (1) is a fiction writer and teaching artist. Her novella, Imagine the Dog, won the 2020 Clay Reynolds Novella Prize. Several current students received prestigious awards this year. Becca Gadiel ’22 (2) was chosen as Knox College’s 2021-22 Student Laureate of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois. Sophia Bowley ’22 (3) received the Faculty Scholarship Prize at Knox’s 2021 Opening Convocation ceremony, and Kyle Williams ’22 (4), was awarded a scholarship from the National Association of Black Journalists Chicago Chapter. 

In the fall of 2021, new minors were introduced to the Knox academic programs—one of them being Spanish translation and interpreting. Eric Espinoza ’23 (5) is an exemplary student for the new minor, having volunteered for different projects and clinics, as well as being hired by Worldwide Languages as an interpreter.

In the always advancing world of technology, two alumni we met in 2021 have centered their careers around software. Ginny Graves ’10 (6) leads a team with a start-up, Association Analytics, which provides business intelligence software to the association market. Harry Carpenter ’18 (7) has been developing life insurance and annuities software for LIDP. 

The business and management major is now a top program at Knox. Current students Elijah Crump ’22 (8) and Andrew Hand ’22 (9), are both majors and have had significant success and opportunities in the program. Crump connected with a Knox alumnus and worked in finance during a summer internship. Hand came to Knox as a transfer student, and found Knox was the perfect fit for him by working with the business and management faculty. While majoring in computer science, Kam Wells ’17 (10) minored in business and management and a self-designed minor in the analytics of athletics. Wells is currently a data engineer for the Boston Red Sox, combining his interests in baseball and computer science.

Though they may not have majored in business at Knox, Khyati Shah ’99 (11) and Pamela Hernandez ’22 (12) both have successful careers in the corporate world. Shah is currently senior vice president of corporate communications at Kinara Capital, a company driving financial inclusion of small business entrepreneurs in India. The company was founded by Knox alumna Hardika Shah ’99, Khyati’s sister and CEO of Kinara Capital. As an entrepreneur, Hernandez has launched her own social science research firm, Educo Research.  

The pandemic shone a light on how very important teachers are in ensuring future generations receive the education they need, even in almost impossible situations. Knox has accomplished alumni filling that need. Jason Maclin ’07 (13) is currently the principal at Vista PEAK Preparatory in Colorado, and he finds his time of being a principal and educator during a pandemic to be enlightening. Recent graduate Katy Coseglia ’20 (14) discovered the opportunity to teach in a school district in a village in Alaska and has enjoyed learning from the people in the village and teaching her students new skills.

Being as involved as possible is how Melvin Taylor ’14 (15) describes his time since graduating from Knox. After working in several different roles and career paths, Taylor is currently working as a writer at, an online news platform that covers breaking news, sports, entertainment, and shopping.

In the sciences, Natalee Young Hau ’13 (16), who majored in biology, reignited her passion for science when she started working as a medical laboratory technologist during the pandemic. Britney Salinas ’22 (17) is majoring in biochemistry and is taking the opportunity to conduct research in a new collaborative program by working on the Solutions of Nature project on the Knox Farm. After graduating from Knox with a degree in biochemistry, Taliah Ellis ’19 (18) attends medical school and plans on a career in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine. 

Jessie Johnson ’12 (19), and Jon Gripshover ’06 (20) are in different careers than they pictured when they arrived at Knox. Johnson is the founder and CEO of a successful food blog called Life As A Strawberry. Gripshover has opened Accessibility Compliance Testing Services, which is a new program in California Prison Industry Authority’s digital services division. 

Knox students are so dedicated to learning that some started coming to Knox even before they graduated high school. Emma Curry ’24 (21) took advantage of the Early College program, leading her to her decision to attend Knox. 

2021 was a year that showed us that nothing can keep the Knox community from reaching new heights on and off campus. The resilience and determination of our community continues to shine, as it has for almost 185 years.

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Printed on Friday, May 20, 2022