One of the defining aspects of the Clarke alumni community is its willingness and ability to remain connected to Clarke and its students, well after graduation. This is evidenced perfectly in a Spring semester Clarke course titled, Compass Seminar II: “Soulful Work,” that has featured several alumni guest speakers over a six-week period.
The course is designed for first year students with the goal of helping them to develop skills within the Clarke Compass Communication Outcome. Students explore a profession of their choice and are challenged to consider the components of that profession while also gathering outside perspectives on what makes this work meaningful. Instructed by Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Dr. Susanna Cantu Gregory, the course offers students with a look into the deeper meaning of a potential career choice.
During the Spring 2019 semester, Clarke Career Counselor and Alumni Board Member Becky Herrig ‘84M, ‘16M visited the course as a guest speaker. She and Cantu Gregory struck up a conversation and developed the idea to link first year Compass seminar students with alumni who have wisdom to share about finding and sustaining meaningful work. The two met with Clarke Alumni Board member Maryjo Douglas Zunk ‘79 to design this component of the course and invite alumni presenters. Herrig said, “As a Career Counselor at Clarke, I see the importance of students engaging with professionals. Clarke University is a gold mine of excellent faculty and support from outstanding alumni and staff. Our community sees the importance of providing opportunities for students to become successful in their career and in life.”
For this semester, six alumni have pre-recorded reflections that have been presented to the class. The students will incorporate the information gained from these reflections into oral presentations and research papers. One of the alumni presenters, Michaela Freiburger ’11, shared, “Looking back on my time at Clarke, I always appreciated learning from past graduates. Connecting and having a sense of belonging to my community has helped shape my professional career choices. By passing my experiences in finding my career through community engagement, I hope to inspire leaders who may face the same conversations as I did about finding my place. I hope these students remember goals and careers may change, but not taking the chance to grow is often the regret of so many. It meant a lot to hear the students’ positive feedback.”
“Getting the opportunity to connect with and hear the stories of Clarke alumni allows us to learn from others who have come from the position we are in now,” said Rory Bickler, a Clarke student participating in the class. “Right now, our experiences are about choosing a major and getting the degree we seek. The alumni share their perspective of how your path changes and the opportunities you should take that ultimately lead you on the right path for yourself. There are so many avenues to what each of us wants to do and what we excel in. We must follow our hearts just like the alumni that we hear from.”