by Gabby Hernandez

JOE ROSENFELD CENTER– On November 15, 2022, alumni Janice Joplin `98 came to Grinnell College to speak about her massively successful breakthrough novel, Nerfed on My Noyce: A Robert Noyce and Joe Rosenfield Love Story, which instantly sold out when it hit the shelves of the Pioneer Bookshop, Grinnell College’s bookstore, in 2020. Shortly after that, Joplin’s novel went nation-wide. It can easily be found in Barnes & Nobles and other local bookstores.

The success of Jopline’s novel has also become the success of Grinnell College; since its release, applications to Grinnell College have soared, reaching numbers as high as 140,000 applicants each year. According to Berenice Sanders, Assistant to the Dean of the Registrar, the most common theme in the applicants’ personal essays was the profound impact Joplin’s novel had on their life, identity, and career path.

“Yes, it was actually really interesting! A majority of them also included quotes cited in MLA format, so we know they know how to write. The most popular quote was something along the lines of, hm, oh yes! ‘When we awoke in our twin XL bed that morning our eyes locked; I saw the meaning of love in his irises,’” said Sanders.

Similarly to the college’s application queue, the HSSC atrium was filled to the brim with a seemingly endless number of souls permanently changed for the better. In the center of the first floor of the atrium was a raised stage assembled for this event. When Joplin walked onstage thunderous roars shook the building. When she reached the microphone the crown went silent. The tension was palpable as she began reading a select passage from her novel.

“When Robert finally made it into the board of trustee’s circle, he knew he was somewhere he could finally be himself. He knew that Joe would take him under his wing and make sure no one harmed him. Both Joe and Robert saw the board as a safe space where their relationship could bloom, in a strictly professional way of course,’” Joplin read, “Little did they know that the board environment would not only foster the blooming of a flower, but also a vast prairie with various diverse and natural plant forms nurtured by their growing love and passion.”

The crowd took in a collective breath at this, as they knew the next lines by heart.

“After the third board meeting of the year, Robert and Joe lingered in the room after the other trustees left. Joe could tell that Robert was frustrated, so he stood, locked the door, and placed his hand on Robert’s shoulder. Startled, Robert took a deep breath. ‘You need to moisturize,’ Robert said as he took Joe’s hand in his own. ‘I have other things to worry about,” Joe replied in a low tone. Using his other hand, Joe caressed Robert’s face and leaned in towards his ear. Despite the heat of Joe’s breath, shivers went down Robert’s spine.”

The crowd took over the next line for Joplin and said as one, “‘In a coarse whisper Joe said, ‘I’ve been thinking a lot about paying student workers $15/hour.’”

In that moment UGSDW banners fell across the second and third floor atrium bridges and all audience members removed the top layers of their clothing, revealing matching t-shirts with “Grinnell works because we do!” written across their chests. On stage, Joplin removed her head in Scooby-Doo villain fashion to reveal her true identity: Anne Harris.