Grand Valley State University is a unique and diverse university, though not everyone sees that at first glance. Junior Madeline Buning made it her goal to bring these differences to light in her Honors College Senior Project last semester.
“When people think of Grand Valley, they mainly think of the students and professors, which is not really all of who makes it up at all,” Buning said.
In her blog, titled “The Humans of Grand Valley,” Buning highlights students, faculty and alumni of different backgrounds to share their stories. She even interviewed former president Thomas J. Haas.
The inspiration for the blog came from the viral project “Humans of New York.” In that project, Brandon Stanton interviews people from all across the state, and Buning aimed to recreate that project here at GVSU.
“I always have loved people’s stories and what makes them who they are, so I wanted to incorporate that somehow,” Buning said.
As a psychology major, Buning wanted a project that would focus on people and humanities instead of numbers and figures. She said the experience of creating this project will stay with her throughout her career.
Even though she is only a junior, Buning started her senior project early, beginning in April 2019. She was able to interview seven students, three faculty members, six staff members, three alumni and the now-former president.
Finding people to participate in her project did not prove to be a challenge for Buning. She had a network of people recommending their friends that they thought would be a good fit for the project. She also reached out through the alumni association at GVSU, even though she knew of most of the alumni ahead of time.
“I knew I really wanted a different, diverse group of people,” Buning said. “I knew I wanted some diverse people based on race, and people that were involved in athletics.”
Though she was not able to represent every group she set out to, Buning was able to highlight many others.
The blog officially launched two weeks ago and is already rapidly growing in popularity. The traffic to the website is increasing after Buning and the professor who inspired her, Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, did a radio interview on the WGVU station earlier this summer.
The blog itself is finished, but the effects that it has on Buning and everyone who takes the time to read it will last a lifetime. The blog can be found at humansofgv.home.blog.