One in Two Thousand: Grace Goodall ’22

Irene Loewenson

(Irene Loewenson/The Williams Record)

Each week, we randomly select a unix from a list of all current students at the College for our One in Two Thousand feature. As long as the owner of a selected unix is willing to be interviewed and is not a member of the Record board, that person becomes the subject of our interview. This week, the computer (using a script in R) chose Grace Goodall ’22, who talked about late-night broken windows, large-scale baking, and analyzing the psychology of fictional characters. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

My source tells me that you are the North Campus residential director — she also says you’ve gotten some strange late-night calls as part of your job. What’s that been like? 

[Laughs.] I’m really happy that my HCs [house coordinators] feel comfortable reaching out to me, especially after hours, and that there isn’t that barrier there. One of the houses has had a funny history with broken windows. It feels like they’ve had a broken window every weekend of the semester. And they’re from funny stuff like pumpkins or baseballs. It’s always a good call, like, “Hey, do we need to call CSS or not?”

How do you break a window with a pumpkin? 

You have a couple of drinks, you’re having a good time, and you randomly throw a pumpkin. That is my understanding of the story. 

I also hear that you used to work in the Paresky bakery at 6 a.m. every day. Why?

I think there’s a couple parts. My mom loves to bake — she apparently took classes at the community center growing up. And then when she became an adult and a mom, she was like, “I really want to teach my kids how to bake.” So we do it a lot. We go apple-picking every year. We make these really pretty apple pies for Pi Day — we put the numbers of pi on them. Our sugar cookies are somewhat famous. For every Christmas, we make at least a dozen and just keep giving them out to friends and family. Of course, it’s all a little different this year. But anyhow, I grew up loving baking. I know a lot of people use it as release, but for me, it just kind of feels like home. I knew I wanted to have some sort of job on campus, and I realized that they had a bakery, and I was like, “Oh, let’s see what’s up with that! Let’s check it out.” Also, I lifted on the days that I worked at the bakery at the same time [of day], so in terms of having a routine, it was really nice to get up at the same time every day. 

My boss’ name is Michael [Menard]. He’s awesome. He always had NPR on and was super friendly. We got to try stuff that was fresh. We had an opinion on the menus because a lot of times they were like, “We need a cookie,” but they don’t care what cookie, so you get to pick your favorites. And it was just kind of a fun way of getting to know the staff at the College… I think often, you see their faces so often but you don’t know their names because there really isn’t a way to get to know them. There’s kind of this othering. So it was really nice to get to know them a little bit more as people.

What’s one secret about the way that pastries are made at this college that you’d like to share with the world? 

I guess offhand the thing that surprised me most when I went down there was the quantity of everything. I think the mixers can hold over 50 pounds of dough. And they’re basically the size of your legs. They are insanely massive. Butter does not come in sticks — it comes in one-pound blocks. Eggs often come in cartons unless you’re making popovers and you have to crack hundreds of eggs. So I think the quality is really impressive. Also, my tip would be if you can, when it opens back up, go to a Faculty House meal because we make them the fanciest desserts. They get these fancy trifles and éclairs and all the stuff that takes a lot more time and attention.

How do you get to a Faculty House meal? Get a PhD?

It’s not too hard. A lot of committees have their meetings there. That’s what we had last year — I was on the Upperclass Residential Life Advisory Committee, [which] talks about plans for res life in the future. That has taken a pause this year, given the restrictions and given the fact that they’re kind of reworking res life. But last year, we’d have Friday lunches in the Faculty House. 

On the topic of food, my source also tells me: You’re vegetarian, but you’re the only one in your family who is. How did that happen? 

You got some good info from her! So, I really like animals. I also was a super inquisitive kid — I asked questions about everything. I was the annoying kid where my parents wanted me to go to bed and I’d be like, “Well, why does this happen? And then why did that happen?” Basically, I was obnoxious. [Laughs.] One time, I think my mom was making dinner or something. I was talking to her, and I was 4 at the time, and I said, “Well, I know chicken is chicken. That makes sense. And I know pork is pig. But what’s beef?” And my mom was like, “Oh, well, beef is cow.” And I was a devastated 4-year-old. I was like, “You can’t tell me that I eat cows. I love cows!” For perspective, my favorite meats were baloney and meatloaf, so I didn’t have a great palate, but I really liked it. I was also very stubborn. I decided from that moment on that I was not going to eat meat anymore because I didn’t like the idea of eating cows. A little ironic that I ended up a Williams student. 

What was it about cows in particular? I mean, how is that any different from pigs or chickens? 

Honestly, I think a little bit of that story is lost to time. I think part of it, though, is that there’s something about large mammals that just seem really nice and docile. I don’t know — I guess pigs seem a little dirtier. Chickens? There’s just so many of them. Something about cows is really great.

On a completely different note, do you believe in extraterrestrial life? 

I believe that there could be something out there, but I don’t think it’s at the level of humans. I think there could be some sort of bacteria or microbe or something smaller — or something that we wouldn’t even conceive of as life because it’s not organically based. The universe is so big, I wouldn’t say that for sure there’s no life. But the probability of Earth being the way it is and us being the way we are so small, I think it’s unlikely that something like us exists out there. 

You’re pre-med, right?

I came in as a pre-med stats major, and I’m graduating psych and English.

What’s the most meaningful thing you’ve gotten out of the psych major in particular? 

I guess this might not be a perfect answer to your question, because it’s a little bit of context. When I was doing pre-med stuff — I did a bunch of informational interviews, and I got training as an EMT, and I worked in a medical hospital research lab with people with spinal cord injuries and did a bunch of really cool stuff — what I was finding that I enjoyed most was the human aspect and their stories. Understanding the people for who they are, more so than their biology or what happened to them, was what I was really drawn to. That’s one of the reasons that psych and English really stuck out to me, because it’s the ability to understand people’s stories and communicate them well, as well as kind of understanding why people are the way they are. So that’s what drew me in that direction. And then I think I enjoy psych because it just kind of shows me the different aspects within that. Like, from psych disorders, where you hear terms like depression or anxiety going around, but what exactly is the diagnostic criteria of that? How is this impacting their lives? How much does everyone have going on behind the surface? Because I think sometimes that’s pretty much lost. I enjoy psych because you really get to know what’s going on with people behind the scenes — even if you don’t know for each person, you know that it exists. That kind of makes you more empathetic and more cognizant of the people around you. 

Do you feel that with the English major, too? 

Yeah. I’ll admit: Most of my papers kind of tie the two together. I love theorizing about what characters should have done based on the way they’re conceptualized, or why the author does certain things. I was in [Professor of English Alison] Case’s 19th Century Brit Lit in the fall, and I’m in her Austen, Eliot, and Woolf class now. A lot of it is just talking about why the characters do certain things, and a lot of the criticisms that we’re reading are like, how the narratives frame the character so they appear a certain way. So in my mind, the majors go perfectly together. 

Do you have any last words for the Williams community? 

I guess I would say, I am really hoping that warm weather and a good summer put us all in a good place for next year and that while there’s been a lot of unfortunate things happening, not only here but in the world, we can figure out a way to move forward.