Driven to care for others

Grace Spindler standing outside. Trees with brownish red leaves are in the background.
Grace Spindler, senior in biology, has dedicated her time outside of classes to giving back to the community through various volunteerism efforts.

By Whitney Baxter

Volunteering has been an important part of Grace Spindler’s life since she was 13. From mentoring high school students to assisting individuals in the emergency room, she has continued giving back to others as an Iowa State University student.

Spindler, senior in biology, is being recognized for her acts of service and will receive the fall 2023 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Council Distinguished Service Award at the CALS Convocation ceremony Dec. 15.

With plans to apply for medical school, Spindler has focused much of her Iowa State extracurriculars and community service around the medical field. She began volunteering in Mary Greeley Medical Center’s emergency department in December 2022. There, she completes comfort rounds, checking on patients and visitors to see if they need anything or providing patient status updates to waiting family members.

Grace Spindler pictured with her boyfriend, sitting inside Jack Trice Stadium during a football game.
Grace Spindler is grateful for all the support she has received from family and friends during her time at Iowa State, including from her boyfriend, Wyatt Edler.

Spindler said it is rewarding to see the impact her efforts have on others.

“By showing compassion and empathy in all aspects of my volunteering, I am able to see the positive difference I make in each individual's life and ensure that they know they are cared for. I have been able to bring that compassion into my life to build relationships as well,” Spindler said.

That empathy extends to her involvement in the Neurophysiology Lab at Iowa State, managed by Elizabeth Stegemöller, associate professor of kinesiology. In addition to her lab marshal responsibilities – organizing student training and maintaining a clean lab space – Spindler assists graduate students with their research projects and helps with Parkinson’s disease research and community outreach efforts.

“Grace is incredibly outgoing and is always willing to lend a helping hand before she is even asked,” wrote Lydia Linch, senior in kinesiology and health, in a letter supporting Spindler’s nomination for the Distinguished Service award. “She is compassionate toward the participants of the lab’s outreach groups who have Parkinson’s disease and has developed close connections with many of them.”

The disease holds a special place in Spindler’s heart. Her grandfather has had the disease for the past 22 years, so she understands what patients are going through. Between her classes and lab experience, Spindler has a deeper understanding about the disease.

“I’ve learned a lot about Parkinson’s through my classes and working the lab,” Spindler said. “I’ve been able to take that knowledge and better serve the residents with Parkinson’s in my role as a certified nursing assistant at Green Hills Retirement Community.”

Before working at Green Hills, Spindler was a CNA at Care Initiatives in State Center. She said seeing the differences in resource and staffing levels between rural and urban care facilities has been interesting. This need for medical providers in small communities has led to her goal of one day practicing family medicine at a rural clinic.

Reflecting on her time at Iowa State, Spindler is grateful for her family, friends and boyfriend’s endless support of her college and volunteering journeys.

“With their help and support, I was able to dedicate my time to volunteering and assisting patients, residents, their families, and employees in the field that I enjoy,” Spindler said.