Kalamazoo, MI
one-hundred-forty Years of Service to the Student

Anniversary Edition

James Goodwin Reflects Back

James Goodwin '03

Now he is a Senior Policy Analyst in Washington, D.C., but back when he was heralding the opinions section of The Index, James Goodwin ‘03 thought that he was undeniably cool.

One of his fondest memories of working with The Index was when he snagged a leaked copy of Radiohead’s “Kid A” album a few weeks before its release. “It’s still one of my all-time favorite records,” Goodwin said. “I was able to publish a review of it in The Index before it officially dropped. I thought I was so cool — I was not.”

Goodwin also started multiple columns with his friends. During his sophomore year, he and his roommate created “The Backpage,” where they used the last page of each week’s edition of The Index to satirize events happening around Kalamazoo College. “We thought we were hilarious – we were not,” he reflects. He went on to start “The Beer Snob Corner” which spotlighted and reviewed beers, focusing on local microbreweries.

Outside of The Index, Goodwin took full advantage of the K-Plan. He studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, where he met the woman who is now his wife. “We shared so many great moments that we still treasure now over 16 years later,” he said.

After leaving Kalamazoo College, he went to law school — but instead of becoming a lawyer, he followed another passion. “Much of practicing law is about ‘using’ the law, such as in courtrooms or contracts negotiation.” Goodwin said. “But during law school, I became more interested in how laws were ‘made’ — the policy side of things.” He earned a master’s degree in public policy and now works at a D.C.-based think tank called the Center for Progressive Reform.

Goodwin feels strongly that his experience at The Index helped to prepare him for his career. “It’s not hard to draw a straight line between the opinion pieces I used to write for The Index back in the day and much of the work I do today,” he said. “For example, I do a lot of blogging and I place a lot of op-eds. I’m sure I would be mortified by how poorly written my stuff was back then. But, at the very least, it ignited my passion for doing that kind of writing, and to strive continually at improving.”

Goodwin has advice for current students: “It might be hard to believe now, but some day you are the folks who will be running the joint – you will be leaders in your businesses and in your community. You’re in the unique position to do à lot of good in the world. Embrace it. Take it seriously. Make the most of it.”

Reflecting on his few college regrets, he encourages students to explore the city and all that it has to offer. “I wish I had done more off-campus stuff, whether it involved volunteering in the community of Kalamazoo or engaging with national political advocacy organizations. I think that would have made me a much more attractive applicant to grad school.”

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James Goodwin Reflects Back