Jess Rundlett ’07

When I moved to Cornell in August 2003, I really had no idea what to expect living in the dorms. I had certainly never lived with a stranger before, and I had all the typical roommate anxieties. My Peer Advocate, Ryan Taugher ’06, made our group awesome door decorations: United States maps with a sticker on our hometowns. Being a social person, I took a lap down my hall in Bowman-Carter and found a girl from northeast Colorado, a part of the country I was familiar with from family trips, and because my grandpa had hauled a lot of grain out there.

elsey Beal Rosales ’07, Jess Rundlett ’07, and Diana Krogmeier Suhanyi ’07 (from left) seen as students on the steps of Bowman-Carter Hall.
elsey Beal Rosales ’07, Jess Rundlett ’07, and Diana Krogmeier Suhanyi ’07 (from left) seen as students on the steps of Bowman-Carter Hall.

I walked right in and said “Are you from Julesburg?” She wasn’t, she was from Amherst, and she wasn’t all too excited to meet a friendly hallmate. But her mom was pleased to meet me and insisted that we chat more. The girl was Diana Krogmeier Suhanyi ’07, and that day launched our lifelong friendship. Diana lived across from Kelsey Beal Rosales ’07 and Haley Kaperick Thayer ’07. The four of us became fast friends and navigated that first year together. Diana, Kelsey, and I stuck together all four years—from Bowman third floor, to Olin fourth floor, to Bowman first floor, and over to a co-ed floor in Merner our senior year. We spent weekend holidays with my family because they were only 45 minutes away.

It was spring break 2006 when I made my first trip to Amherst, Colorado, to spend time with Diana’s family. They had enticed me with an upclose view of their farming operation—but what I got was way better than just a ride in a tractor. Not only did Diana’s immediate family take me in, so too did her extended family. She may have been just one new friend at Cornell, but through that one person I got a whole Colorado family: grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

I spent a few Novembers driving a grain cart for their grain harvest. We have spent holidays and regular days together. We have mourned the loss of grandparents and watched all the little cousins grow up. This year I traveled to Colorado to celebrate Diana’s marriage, and returned in late summer for her sister’s wedding—because that’s what happens when you’re lucky enough to get another family.

Jess Rundlett ’07 is special projects and outreach coordinator at the State Historical Museum of Iowa in Des Moines.