Dordt alumnus returns as business professor

Caleb Pollema—Staff Writer

Not many people get to say they are an alumnus of the university that they teach at.

New business professor, Jesse Veenstra, however, can say such a thing. Veenstra believes teaching at Dordt offered an opportunity he simply could not pass up—an experience that brought his journey full circle.

“Since the time I was at Dordt I have always been interested in the idea of teaching at Dordt and being able to teach young adults.” Veenstra said.

Growing up in Pella, Iowa, and attending Pella Christian School, he always thought that attending Dordt for college would be a possibility.

With many of his classmates headed to Dordt, Veenstra did the same. At Dordt, he received his degree in business with an emphasis in finance. He also spent much of his time with the basketball team as a student manager and assistant.

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As a student, Veenstra also built some great relationships with his professors that benefited him in his future career.

“One of the things I enjoyed most about being a student at Dordt was the interaction with the professors and the relationships I was able to build with several of the business professors,” Veenstra said. “You are able to really build a long-term relationship with them and utilize that relationship when you go into your career field.”

After graduating from Dordt in 2008, Veenstra moved to Des Moines to begin his career at I&G Financial in their call center. He simultaneously pursued his MBA at Iowa State’s downtown location in Des Moines through I&G’s tuition reimbursement program.

Professor Veenstra later worked for Merchant’s Bonding Company as an underwriter, which gave him experience in financial analysis, sales, and marketing.

In 2019, Veenstra had the opportunity to teach as an adjunct at a local community college in Des Moines. This experience led him to teaching as an adjunct at Dordt in the Fall of 2020, which eventually gave way to his new, full-time position.

The new position means a new transition to Sioux Center in the coming month, but in the meantime, Veenstra commutes from Des Moines to Sioux Center during the week.

“I would much rather be on campus with the students in the classroom all the time,” Veenstra said. “The energy and the atmosphere with having students around is unmatched. That’s what I love about it.”

This passion for students and his love for sharing his business experience drives Veenstra as he prepares for classes. It’s important to him to keep his students engaged.

“The most valuable thing in class is the impromptu discussion based on whatever has happened in recent time,” Veenstra said. “We can share ideas and have a 30-minute conversation about what’s going on and how that relates to what we are trying to learn about. Those are the fun class periods.”

While Professor Veenstra continues to commute to Sioux Center for the next month, Veenstra’s wife will complete her semester as a middle school teacher at Des Moines Christian before making the move to Sioux Center with their two daughters.

Professor Veenstra and his wife not only have a passion for teaching, but they have a few other responsibilities that they have devoted their time to. 

“My wife and I have been foster parents for the last four years, off and on,” Veenstra said. “We have had a couple different long-term placements. We had a two and one-year old for almost two years. Then we most recently had a sixteen-year-old for just six months.”

These experiences have undoubtedly shaped his perspective as a teacher. Veenstra also likes staying active and regularly participates in triathlons and Ironman races.

For Veenstra it was never a question of if he would teach at Dordt, but when.

“I have always felt like Dordt was home for me,” Veenstra said. “I felt more homesick leaving Dordt than I did leaving my home in Pella to go back to school. I always knew I wanted to be involved long-term with the university.”

For Professor Veenstra and his family, that time is now. He is finally back home.

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