Steve Grove named NHS Distinguished Alum - Northfield MN: Local

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Steve Grove named NHS Distinguished Alum

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Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 2:50 pm | Updated: 10:42 pm, Mon Aug 11, 2014.

'A distinguished career in service, vocation or work in a career that helps his or her community, society or humanity.'

That's the needed criteria to be considered for Northfield High School's Distinguished Alumni Award. Well, that and a graduation year of at least 10 years ago.

It's an understatement to say that 1996 NHS graduate Steve Grove meets those requirements.

Nominated by his former football coach, Bubba Sullivan, Grove has a laundry list of prestigious accolades. To name a few, he's the Director of of Community Partnerships at Google +, he's Harvard educated, he's written for the Boston Globe, and he worked for YouTube in it's formative years.

"I'm pleasantly surprised," Grove said of the award. "This is definitely an honor."

What makes Grove even more outstanding? The California resident hasn't forgotten his small town Midwestern roots and he takes pride in calling Northfield his hometown.

"I think of Northfield all of the time," he said. "I'm very proud to be from Northfield."

Grove took off for the warmth and sunshine shortly after his graduation from NHS and attended Claremont-McKenna College. According to Grove, after graduation he spent most of his 20s traveling abroad and writing.

He even ventured back home for awhile, where he had a stint at the Northfield News, winning an award on a series of pieces he did on the Hispanic integration in Northfield back in 2003.

Grove gravitated to the East coast to write for the Globe and obtained a master's degree in public policy analysis from Harvard.

Kathy Wiertsema-Miller was Grove's English teacher at NHS and remembers him to not only be an extremely talented writer, but a student who thought outside of the box with a can-do attitude.

"I would go home and tell my husband that (Grove) is going somewhere, he is going to do something big."

And big it has been. When Grove took the leap to YouTube in 2007, the company was not the household name it is today.  Grove said that this was about the time of birth for YouTube politics.

"YouTube had just come out as being used on the political scene for candidates," Grove said.

For four years Grove improved and created many facets of YouTube and he even interviewed President Obama, twice.

While building an empire of outlets for politicians and journalists alike at YouTube, he was led down the path to his director position at Google +.

He's built a social media platform from scratch and continues to search for ways to build it up.

"I'm most passionate about getting political figures to use (this platform)," he said.

Whatever it may be though, no matter how large the success or great the plans, Grove credits his NHS roots.

"It's a great community, a great high school and phenomenal teachers," he said. "(Northfield) is a town that really cares about character and young people."

Wiertsema-Miller says Grove has kept his Midwestern attitude and his 'Minnesota-nice" demeanor.

"He's the nicest guy, for all his successes and awards, he is so humble," she said. "He really is a Northfield guy and really tied to the Midwest."

Despite taking that Midwestern work ethic elsewhere, Northfield will forever be a special place for him.

"The longer you are away, the more and more you realize how special Northfield is," he said.

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