Liberal arts alumni offer advice to current students

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The University of Indianapolis welcomed back liberal arts alumni on Oct. 6 to share their experiences and expertise on beginning a fulfilling career after graduation. The event, titled “What Can You Do with a Liberal Arts Degree?” took place in the Schwitzer Student Center, Room 010, and featured a panel of four graduates of the university: Julia Whitehead, who earned her Master of Business Administration degree in 2009 from UIndy and is the current CEO of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum; Mindy Westrick Davis from the Class of 2007, who is an attorney with Faegre-Baker Daniels; Ben Sondgeroth, a 2009 graduate, who is an EdTech teacher; and Bradley Coffing, a 2007 graduate, who is a research manager of the Hamilton County Economic Development Corporation. In response to audience and faculty questions, the panel of former Greyhounds shared their experiences concerning the university, the staff and their lives after earning their respective degrees.

Assistant Professor of Political Science Laura Albright was one of the organizers responsible for planning the event. She said that she and her coworkers were motivated to ensure that prospective liberal arts majors were given an opportunity to discuss and receive advice from speakers who only years before had sat in the same seats and had the same concerns.

“We think it’s important that our students get to know alumni in order to hear from their experiences and learn more about what they [the students] can do,” Albright said.

Each of the panelists praised the diverse faculty and university curriculum as being instrumental in exposing them to new subjects and viewpoints that have benefitted them greatly in their post-collegiate endeavors. They even shared laughter about their experiences in courses they remember fondly and their memories from the campus.  Although their degrees varied from history to international relations, the alumni made clear that as college students, none of them could have foreseen their current occupations. They emphasized the importance of taking advantage of the liberal arts requirements at UIndy, because those requirements offer new perspectives and knowledge that each of the alumni panelists had found useful in their careers.

Coffing said he thought the importance of networking and being bold enough to inquire about the possibilities of a given major, whether in the liberal arts or other areas, would be helpful to students preparing for their futures.

“If you have a concept or theory of what it is that you want to do, don’t ever miss the opportunity, or be afraid to take the opportunity, to take somebody out for coffee,” Coffing said. “Being a college student, you’re not really in your earnings mindset yet. But if you can spare a couple of bucks to take somebody out to coffee that is doing something that you think you want to do, or something similar to it, don’t waste the opportunity.”

The panel lasted for approximately an hour, and the speakers made sure to stay after, to give students an opportunity for individual questions and networking and to catch up with former professors.

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