Brandee Chanin ’97

Brandee Chanin smiling

Brandee Chanin ’97

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN

Major at Earlham: Sociology/Anthropology

Asking why I decided to become an Earlham volunteer is an interesting question. There wasn’t any type of thought process involved, it was just something I knew I should do when presented with the opportunity.

Tell us a bit about how you discovered Earlham when you enrolled here.

My relationship with Earlham began the summer after my freshman year in high school through the Explore-A-College program. While I should have spent two weeks learning about psychology from Nelson Bingham, I spent that time developing new relationships with folks from all over the country and discovering that I was not ready for college. Earlham continued to cultivate its relationship with me throughout the remainder of my high school career, and by the time I was a senior, it was evident that the only college for me was Earlham. I applied early decision. The rest is history.

Share some fond memories from your Earlham undergraduate experience.

Earlham’s Humanities program was amazingly grueling, but equally satisfying. I learned how to fail, recover, and write. I’m positive many of my peers experienced the same growing pains and that commonality was the glue that bound us all together. The Humanities program provided a path for strangers to engage in meaningful conversations, forge new relationships, and build a community by demanding, albeit implicitly, collaborative learning. I was a Bonner Scholar. Prior to that, I had never done a minute of community service and honestly, but for the scholarship, I can’t say that I would have. The experience taught me more about my hometown, Richmond, Indiana, the value in serving others; how to drive a 15-passenger van, how to raise funds for student-led service projects how to respect others’ differences and learn from them, and how to develop time-management skills. All of those lessons continue to benefit me today. I became a better person.

Did you benefit from alumni giving or alumni volunteering as a student? If so, how?

I think the concept of alumni giving typically is associated with financial contributions. Nevertheless, I believe that alumni give to the College in several ways, not merely financially. For example, Bonita Washington-Lacey provided me with an immeasurable amount of support, sharing her family, life lessons, access to information, and genuine love that made Earlham feel like my home. Moreover, the financial support that alums provided to the College through the Beasley Fund helped to ensure that I had money for books, paper, pens, and pencils.

Do you give to Earlham? Why or why not? If you give, do you support anything in particular?

I do give to Earlham; typically, on an annual basis and without prompting. Initially, my gifts weren’t targeted, but lately I’ve focused on contributing to funds that provide direct support to African-American students on campus.

Why did you decide to become an Earlham volunteer, and what specifically did you volunteer to do?

Asking why I decided to become an Earlham volunteer is an interesting question. There wasn’t any type of thought process involved, it was just something I knew I should do when presented with the opportunity. I simply want to give back what was provided to me while I was a student at Earlham: support and constant encouragement.

Share some details from your volunteer experience(s).

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with African-American students on campus, participating as a guest speaker in student-sponsored events, and trying to develop interactive social events for African-American students and African-American alums, such as bowling or skating parties. The students’ constant creativity, energy, thoughtfulness, and sincerity is invigorating and appreciated.

In what ways do you feel you have made a difference as a volunteer?

I hope that the students I’ve interacted with at EC have discovered that alums are approachable, their peers are approachable, and collaborative work is powerfully useful.

What would you say to others to encourage more alumni to volunteer?

“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve . . . . You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.