May 2013


Making Home

Sometime during her undergraduate days--maybe because she was a Resident Assistant and career advisor in her student years at Hope College--Dana Jansma got hooked on the idea of a career in higher education student affairs. Several years later her career path combined with the arrival of twins to bring her to Kalamazoo College where she serves today as associate dean of students. But first, after graduation from Hope, the communication major earned a master’s degree in education (M.Ed.) from the University of Vermont where, not surprisingly, she served as a graduate hall director. She then worked for the residential life program for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Next she and her husband (a social worker) decided to go west. For four years Dana worked in the residential life system of Northern Arizona University. “Flagstaff was wonderful for a young couple with no kids,” she says. “We biked and hiked in the mountains and the Grand Canyon, and in the winters would drive south to Phoenix.” And when the couple’s twins arrived (a boy and a girl) the thought of “it-takes-a-village”--or at least two sets of grandparents--became quite appealing. Besides, Dana (a Rockford, Michigan, native whose grandparents owned a cottage on Lake Michigan) just might have a little Great Lakes flowing in the bloodstream. “I saw the K job posted, and I applied,” she says. That was 13 years ago, when her twins were a year and a half old. They pretty much have grown up on the K campus, having lived for nearly five years in the Crissey and Harmon residence halls. (They often returning for special events.) Making home matters deeply to Dana—work that weaves place, relationships, and leadership—and she helps students have a good experience making their own.

What’s the best song every recorded?
“In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel.

What’s your favorite childhood fairy tale or story?
I loved reciting nursery rhymes with my dad. I don’t recall a particular favorite, but I loved the sound of them, and I loved to memorize.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
‘Don’t worry, your family made it, too.’

What’s your favorite word?

What’s your least favorite word?
Any derogatory word about women.

What turns you on?
Kayaking on Lake Michigan on a sunny day.

What turns you off?
Whiny, complaining, negative people.

What sound do you love?
Hearing my kids say ‘I love you, Mom.’ Now that they are teenagers I hear it less often, so it’s even more special.

What sound do you hate?
This would be a tie between a person whistling through his teeth or a screechy saxophone.

What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
When I was a kid I wanted to be a cruise director, like Julie on the show The Love Boat. Wait a minute, that’s kinda what I do. I guess I’m living the dream, even though we’re stationary. Maybe one day I’ll be  a professor of communications; I’ve thought about that before.

What profession would you not like to participate in?
Anything where I can’t interact with people or that involves math.

What’s been a GREAT MOMENT in your liberal arts learning?
A poetry class I took at Hope College. Nothing short of an institution committed to the liberal arts could have convinced me to take a poetry class. And it turned out to be awesome. It stretched me. It convinced me I can be creative.

Who’s the person (living or dead) with whom you’d most like to spend a lunch hour?
My Grandpa. He died four years ago. I’d like to catch up. I miss him.

What memory from childhood still surprises you?
Once, when I was little, I took a paper clip and carved my name into my parents’ coffee table. Then I carved a picture in it as well. That was so unlike me. I was a pretty good kid. I know I got into trouble for it but don’t remember the details.

What is your favorite curse word?
The F-word. I say it so rarely that you can see the shock in people’s faces when I do use it.

What is your favorite hobby?
Yoga. And doing fun stuff with the family.

What is your favorite comedy movie?
16 Candles. With that and my Peter Gabriel answer you can tell I’m a child of the ‘80s.

What local, regional, national, or world event has affected you most?
I guess it’s more a category than a specific event, and that’s whenever something negative happens to children due to the incompetence or selfishness of adults. Anything that hurts kids affects me deeply.

If a cow laughed, would milk come out of her nose?
Of course! What else would?

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