- There are many ways parents and families can enhance the Lafayette experience for current students. If you are interested in learning more, contact Development and College Relations at (610) 330-5892.
Parents have an opportunity to elevate the campus experience for all students by volunteering their time, talent, and treasure while their own children are studying on the Hill
By Wendy Connuck
After visiting Lafayette College twice from Denver, Colorado, Bryn Cranswick ’23 and her parents, Russ Cranswick P’23 and Sheila Black P’23, knew she had found her home for the next four years. The strong feeling of community and school spirit made applying Early Decision the right choice for Bryn. According to her, “The small community and sharing and engagement of students within the community is a big part of why I chose Lafayette.”
Russ and Sheila became active within the Lafayette community early in Bryn’s college journey. While Bryn, a double major in psychology and government and law, was settling into her first year at Lafayette, Sheila and Russ joined the Marquis Parents’ Council, where they met a great mix of parents both local to the area and across the U.S. Their involvement with Lafayette grew over the past two and a half years to include participation on the Alumni Association Board, where they currently serve as parent representatives, bringing a vital parent perspective to conversations.
Last summer, Russ and Sheila were pleased to have the opportunity to host a welcome event for students and parents of the incoming class at their home in Denver. Bryn, who has been an orientation leader for incoming students and provides admission tours, served as a resource for incoming students from the Denver region. At the same time, Sheila and Russ helped fellow parents navigate the logistical questions that often arise when moving a child into college across the country.
Sheila and Russ believe strongly in giving back to the community. In Denver, Sheila was instrumental in establishing food banks in inner-city middle and high schools to help with food insecurity among the students and their families. Because volunteerism is a large part of their lives, they are thrilled that Bryn has had the opportunity to continue this at Lafayette by participating in service activities including volunteering at a local food bank and serving as secretary of Alpha Pi Omega. When Bryn returned home after her first year, she worked at the ECDC African Community Center in Denver helping refugees and immigrants.
“When we join an organization, we like to leave it in a better place. It’s important to teach Bryn that,” explains Sheila.
When the pandemic hit, Sheila and Russ were one of the first families to answer the call by contributing to the Student Support Emergency Fund. “We wanted to help meet the immediate needs of students at Lafayette,” Sheila says. Today, Russ and Sheila are more involved in the Marquis Catalyst Fund to support new, innovative programs to provide resources that will equip students for success after they graduate.
Sheila and Russ are enthusiastic about the wide range of opportunities Bryn has taken advantage of at Lafayette. Her involvement is extensive: student government, executive board of the Student Activities Forum, attendance at a national leadership forum, director of social events for Pi Beta Phi, Women in Law Group, various service activities, and an internship and externship with two different law firms. They feel these activities have prepared her for success after graduation. According to Russ, “Her experience in running for positions and in applying for internships and externships has honed her interviewing skills and ability to present herself.”
Russ and Sheila have found it rewarding to get to know Lafayette students and alumni by enthusiastically joining the Lafayette community. Russ hosted two virtual Career Tracks with Gateway Career Center. A geologist by training and fund manager, Russ is a partner with Resource Capital Funds, a mining-focused alternative investment firm. Both Career Tracks centered on opportunities at the intersection of mining and economics.
In the first Career Track, Russ and two of his colleagues worked with five students on a project involving mining in Peru. The students researched geology, mining, social and environmental issues, and the political situation within Peru. To top off the hands-on experience, they also met two CEOs of public companies focused on exploration projects in Peru, and analyzed and presented findings about a Peruvian mining investment project.
Russ hosted a second Career Track for one student this past winter. Russ was able to work closely with him to develop a project to suit his interests that focused on mining in the Great Basin of the western United States. Russ also arranged a meeting with the student and a vice president of a public company to learn about projects in which the company is actively investing. They also completed a cash flow analysis for the projects.
From a family of avid football fans, Bryn was drawn by Lafayette’s D1 football team when she was considering colleges. Russ and Sheila attend local simulcast football games and other Alumni Association events in Denver and try to spend time on campus when possible. They enjoy meeting Lafayette alumni and hearing about their experiences, which are so different from their own collegiate experiences at a large Canadian university.
When asked what advice they would give parents of incoming students, their suggestions always circle back to engagement. “Get involved. Spend time if you can. It’s interesting and rewarding to support students.”