His experiences at Greenlee helped to shape his career, which was why John Arends found himself astonished when he learned that he was the recipient of the Jim Schwartz Award. Receiving the award in the presence of nine former recipients, Arends joke that he planned to try and earn the award moving forward.
"When you have an experience that is that stunning, in terms of what can be done at a high professional level and seeing what others have achieved and what others have done, it really changes you,” Arends said. “It marks you for every experience you have going beyond it.”
While he worked to develop the “Why Greenlee” presentation, Arends contacted alumni from the last 5 to 7 generations about their experience at Greenlee and found a common thread: That you take the experience, friendships and relationships with you. Something he has found to hold true.
Throughout his time at Greenlee and his involvement with the Iowa State Daily, Arends met friends that remain extremely close to him to this day and who played integral roles in building the life he leads today.
“[My friend] Jonathan [Engel] introduced me to my wife Ann and became our matchmaker, so my kids wouldn’t exist without [the Greenlee School],” Arends said.
One of the best parts of Greenlee today in Arends’s eyes is that it doesn’t forget the importance of those relationships and that the school takes measures to foster them. He describes the closeness of his relationships as inspiring.
“You have common experiences that make you closer,” Arends said. “You turn around and some of those people are winning Peabody awards or Pulitzer Prizes and they were just Feature Editors when you were at the Daily and that is an extraordinary thing.”
Through his involvement with the Greenlee Advisory Council, Arends was able to be back at the school, see what’s going on, contribute ideas and work with people on moving the school and journalism forward, which he found thrilling.
“Your paid job is your paid job, but giving back to something like Greenlee is really one of the high treats of life,” Arends said.