Dordt College News

Senior profile: Jeni Kanis

May 22, 2012

Senior Jeni Kanis from Minneapolis says she’s learned some important things in her four years at Dordt College.

She’s learned how to take suggestions and criticism; she’s learned how to be open and listen and revise her ideas.

“I think these things translate directly to life,” she says. “They’re terribly important when you work with others.”

She’s also gained many practical and theoretical skills in her majors, social work and theater.

“I love academics and always want to keep learning, but I also want to use and share what I’ve learned,” she says. Social work seemed a good fit—and theater too.

“I’ve really appreciated the connections,” she says. “In theater you see humanity and learn truths about who we are as people. In social work you help people work through some of those truths.” Kanis hopes to use both her social work and theater training after she graduates. She’d like to work with a theater that is driven by a passion for justice. She’ll volunteer at such a theater this summer.

Kanis came to Dordt expecting to be a high school English teacher.Senior Jeni Kanis

She recalls sitting in a freshman education class and thinking that she was more interested in what went on in students’ lives outside of the classroom than what went on in it. After a conversation with her advisor, she moved to social work. The switch fit her interest in social justice, too. She’s been a leader in the campus Justice Matters Club and a student representative on the Christian Reformed World Relief Board.

One of Kanis’s scholarships required her to take some theater courses. After a class in stagecraft, she realized that she enjoyed helping make the world of a play appear on stage.

“Being open to new things can give you interesting options,” she says, looking back.

Kanis originally came to Dordt because she “liked how they thought about life—seeing all things interconnected.” Four years later, she says Dordt really did help her think about how faith connects to learning and life.

Kanis does not dismiss worldview as just talk. “It gives a foundation for how you act,” she says, adding that how she thinks about the world has deepened here.

“Things I began wrestling with in high school were challenged further here,” she says. Having just completed Core 399, the senior capstone course, she gives as an example, a presentation on food by fellow students. “I’ve been challenged to see systemic issues and ask how to act Christianly.”

Kanis will spend an extra semester in Chicago in a social work internship next fall. She knows she’ll miss the community she experienced at Dordt—in social work classes, in theater productions, during Walmart scavenger hunts, in impromptu campus conversations, and around the table with her roommates.

“So many dinners included wonderful conversations and so many ended in laughter,” she says.

“Making connections, even if the profs didn’t make them for me,” is a process she’s sure she’ll use in the years ahead.


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