Get to know one of our uncommon Concordians, Yannik Gruner (’23), president of the SGA.
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the fall 2022 edition of Hearts Together, a Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor special magazine edition.
There’s a long-standing joke in the Strategic Communications office at Concordia University Wisconsin that the answer to any question is Yannik Gruner. Who’s interviewing Karl Rove on stage? Who’s the next SGA president? What student should we interview about the new business mentorship program? Who could give us an international student perspective? Yannik Gruner.
In his senior year, the all-around Yannik is leaving his mark on the campus in the country he lovingly calls home. In athletics, Yannik is a quarterback on the football team. In student life, he’s an international student, an assistant resident director (ARD), and the president of the Student Government Association (SGA). In academics, the economics and finance major is active in CU Ventures and the investment club, and serves as a research assistant in political science.
How did you get from Vienna, Austria, to CUW?
When I was 16, I did a foreign exchange year in Indiana. From there, I went to a boarding school in Georgia that focused on international students. I’ve played football since I was 9 years old and had the opportunity to play here in America at both those schools. During my senior year at the Georgia boarding school, Coach Adam Walker from CUW’s football team recruited me.
As SGA president, what are you focusing on?
I want to invest in events that are fun and informative. We’re working on the fun by collaborating with the Campus Activity Board (CAB) to bring more pop-out events and campus-wide celebrations. Regarding the informative events, as you know SGA brought Karl Rove to campus in spring 2022. We’re looking to provide more big opportunities like that for students to engage with issues and information on a grander scale.
You seem to thrive in leadership roles. What advice do you have for students who want to lead but might lack confidence?
Being a leader is not about being the loudest person in a room. It’s about understanding individuals and serving them; it’s about humility. Some of the greatest leaders in this world are introverts and shy—they have just grown their comfort zones and want to serve others. I think the greatest encouragement I can give is telling people to keep testing their limits. Move out of their comfort zones one small step at a time.
Clearly, you like to be busy! What do you do during your downtime?
I love to read non-fiction books, especially about Winston Churchill. I also like to spend time with my friends, go on hikes, and visit art museums in different cities.
How has Concordia prepared you for what’s next?
Concordia has done so much for me! I’ve grown significantly in my faith, which has become an essential part of my life. My education has been outstanding, and my professors are always available to answer questions. Concordia helped me obtain a finance internship with a firm in Chicago, and this year I’ll become more involved with CU Ventures.
Concordia’s CU Ventures initiative helps turn the innovative ideas bred on campus into genuine entrepreneurial opportunities. CU Ventures connects students and faculty with the capital, mentoring, and other resources needed to help turn ideas into real-world business enterprises. Concordia, meanwhile, retains a financial stake in the new company. The hope is that the new model will help generate revenue to supplement tuition and philanthropy at Concordia.
—The fall 2022 Hearts Together magazine hit mailboxes in early October. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, email Jennifer.Hackmann@cuaa.edu.