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Neal King Groothuis

Neal King Groothuis

Software engineer, Troops | Google alum | Class of 2002

What started as a no-getting-out-of-it general education requirement wound up being among the highlights of Neal King Groothuis’ Illini experience.

Women’s studies. Who would have thunk it?

“The most unexpectedly profound academic foray I took” Groothuis (Class of ’02) calls the course, taught by then-postdoc Rose Holz.

“Not only did I learn about the history of women in the United States; I discovered, to my surprise, that men had a history as well. We didn’t exist merely as ‘default human beings.’ We were exploring intersectionality and concepts of sex and gender in an era where ‘Will and Grace’ was edgy because Will was gay and transgender people were barely visible in public.

“As for extracurriculars: whatever modicum of sociability I might lay claim to now certainly began on the second floor of the McKinley Foundation. Then-students Bradley Smith, Anne Kogan and others patiently taught uncoordinated engineers like me how to move safely, enjoyably, and perhaps even aesthetically pleasingly to swing music.

“It was here that I learned the near-100 percent effective opening line for meeting new people: ‘Would you like to dance?’

“Finally, without the amazing faculty who not only have depth of knowledge in their fields and, more importantly, the desire to share their fascination with others, I would not have the knowledge and success that I have enjoyed since my time at UIUC.

"Edward Reingold, Lenny Pitt, Scott Willenbrock, Naomi Makins and David Hertzog in Computer Science and Physics effectively communicated not only the knowledge but the wonder of these disciplines — and yes, they are wonderful. For that, I am grateful.

“Learning and labor, indeed.”