Always More to Explore
As a student starting out at Michigan State University, Kevin Geiser ’78 realized that he longed for a smaller school experience. That’s exactly what he found at Kalamazoo College. “I came in as a transfer student,” Kevin says, “and compared to a large university, you had the opportunity to form personal relationships with your professors. Where you might bump into a classmate once a week outside of class at a bigger institution, at K, you saw your classmates all the time in the cafeteria, on the quad, in the chapel. I think the intimacy of a small college really stood out for me when I look back on my experience at K.”
A political science major, Kevin recalls his Career Service quarter in Washington, D.C., working as a legal intern helping connect juveniles in youth centers with legal representation. He studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, and interned as a legislative assistant with a small business association. “With year-round 10-week quarters, there was constant change and always something new to learn,” he says.
These experiences gave Kevin the confidence to approach life after K not as a straight set path, but as a road with forks to explore. “I started out in banking with American National in Kalamazoo and then with Bank of Boston. I was good at it, but I didn’t really love it, and I think all the changes we went through at K allowed me to try something new.” This is how Kevin came to transition from commercial lending into a family travel business.
Another highlight of Kevin’s time at K was meeting his wife, Ann Dahmer ’78. The two were married in Stetson Chapel in 1981 with Dr. Waldemar Schmeichel officiating.
Ann started at K as a pre-med student, but an anthropology class with Professor Emerita Marigene Arnold opened the door to new academic experiences. “I was really focused on chemistry and the sciences,” Ann says, “and I thought—wow! There might be more things to explore than I thought.” Ann decided to major in economics and math. She interned with a local law firm for her Career Service quarter and with the House Banking Committee in Washington, D.C., for her SIP. Her study abroad took her to Strasbourg, France. “I had a chance to see so much in four years,” she says.
Ann graduated Summa Cum Laude from K and went on to earn her MBA at Boston University in 1983. Through the years, she held various analyst, management and executive leadership positions at Whirlpool Corporation before starting up her own marketing and consulting firm, Smith-Dahmer Associates.
“After I graduated, I spent a couple of years working, and then I thought I was going to be an economics professor, or something along those lines. I went into a Harvard graduate program and Kevin and I were in Boston, and life was just humming along—then I got quite sick, had to drop out of school, and it really moved my cheese.”
Ann realized the plans she’d carefully laid out were about to change. Yet K prepared her to pivot at this critical moment. “If you were to say to me then that I was going to have a career in marketing and eventually own my own international market research company, I would have laughed, because that was not in my mindset at all. I think the bottom line is the K experience helps you pick yourself up, figure out where you might have to make a change and go for something new—and it certainly helped me adapt. I give K full credit for that skill set.”
The fact that K provided such a firm foundation for Ann and Kevin inspires them to give back to the College. Both remember fondly the professors who supported and mentored them, like Wen Chao Chen, Phil Thomas and Jeff Smith, to name a few. They made lifelong friends that they visit with regularly. Ann has been the class agent for the Class of 1978 since graduation.
“K has always been a part of our lives,” Kevin says. “It taught us to love exploring, traveling, and in some ways, it taught us to stay young.”
Ann adds, “While the institution has, of course, changed in the years since we attended, the values and core beliefs that K instills remain the same. K allowed us to see different cultures, meet different people, experience different ways of life. We really appreciate what the College has done to continue to expand access to a diverse student body. We want to help others benefit from the same experiences we are so grateful to have had, both by giving now and in the future through our estate plan.” Ann and Kevin have named the College as a beneficiary of their trust.
You, too, can make a meaningful difference for future K students by including the College as a beneficiary of your will, trust, life insurance policy, retirement assets or gift annuities. Please contact Andy Miller at 269.337.7327 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Information contained herein was accurate at the time of posting. The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in any examples are for illustrative purposes only. References to tax rates include federal taxes only and are subject to change. State law may further impact your individual results. Kalamazoo College does not currently issue charitable gift annuities in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Tennessee, or Washington. Oklahoma residents: A charitable gift annuity is not regulated by the Oklahoma Insurance Department and is not protected by a guaranty association affiliated with the Oklahoma Insurance Department. South Dakota residents: Charitable gift annuities are not regulated by and are not under the jurisdiction of the South Dakota Division of Insurance.