Kristen Steagall – BA 2010 Russian and Eastern European Studies
Sometimes I get mad at my fellow liberal arts graduates, really stinking mad. It seems that so many of us are pessimistic about our liberal arts degrees. “No one will hire me,” one of my friends complains. “It has no practical use,” cries another. It’s enough to make me want to shake them and say, “good god man get a hold of yourself!”
Jackie Richey (BA 2006 Communication Studies, Sociology) & Mark Slattery (BA 2006 Communication Studies)
My husband Mark and I have inhabited a tiny RV since September 2011 while traveling the contiguous United States. We visit, and participate when possible, in a sporting event in each state and publish our experiences in articles, photos, and video on our website, www.coupleofsports.com.
About this time last year while eating dinner in our Los Angeles apartment, we discussed our mutual itch to change locales and careers. Soon after, we visited Joshua Tree and Grand Canyon National Parks and realized how much of the United States we have yet to see. We joked about becoming bloggers and meandering the entire country while writing about it.
Kristen Steagall - BA 2010 Russian and Eastern European Studies
I remember being given a book at Freshman orientation; it depicted a recent graduate’s experience starting an English language newspaper in Baghdad. At the time I saw this as an admirable and exotic feat but was rather flippant about reading it. Why should I care about this one man’s experience? Would he really have anything original to say? Anything more informative than what I could read in the newspaper?
“What I failed to realize at the time is that there is much to be learned from reading how others view and interpret the world.”
In many ways, this is the crux of a liberal arts education. You learn about different viewpoints, how to interpret and synthesize said viewpoints and hopefully bring more understanding, tolerance and respect into our often dissident world. I should have read that book by the recent grad and heard what he had to say. In the least, I would have added a voice to my internal ruminations about Iraq. At the most, he could have changed my entire outlook.
Through a slightly less sophisticated but nevertheless interesting forum, I continuously come across people’s now requisite «I live abroad» blogs. I myself have one documenting my time living in Russia. I often ask myself why I am even keeping a blog. Won’t people have the same reaction to it that I had to the book given to me so many years ago? Do I actually have something to say that is enlightening or informative? Honestly, I might not. But at the end of the day I am offering an interpretation of modern Russia that those who cannot visit can experience, because that is what the sharing of experiences is all about. It’s about adding another voice to the discussion so that one never gets too loud. It’s about trying to make sense of the new and unfamiliar. And it’s about trying to make us all understand each other just a little bit better.
Kristen is an executive team member of the LSA Dean’s Young Alumni Council. She lives in Saint Petersburg, Russia where she teaches English. To check out Kristen’s blog visit steagnet.wordpress.com.
LSA Communication Studies (@UM_CommStudies) has built a blog where young alumni are invited to tell their “communications” stories.
Teddy Heidt (BA 2011 Communication Studies, Screen Arts and Culture), Account Executive at Radio Disney, shares his experience and advice here.
“With a little under a year of “real world” experience under my belt, I can safely say that everything boils down to a mere two basic principles of success: commitment and passion.”
Neil Tambe – BA 2009 Organizational Studies, Political Science
One of my favorite sentences in all of prose comes from a Slam Poem spit by Suheir Hammad (viewer beware – it’s political and has some profanity), “I’ve read too many books to believe what I’m told”. To me, this is the essence of the liberal arts education – it teaches you how to not believe what you’re told and to question instead.
LSA alumni Jackie Richey (2006 BA Communication Studies, Sociology) and Mark Slattery (2006 BA Communication Studies) are not your average married couple. They met during their time at UM but have taken on a whole new adventure. Check out what this recent grad couple is up to below, and look for the interview soon in the LSA Wire!
Couple of Sports - Website
Jackie Richey and Mark Slattery are members of the LSA Dean’s Young Alumni Council Network.
Neil Pithadia – BS 2008 Cellular and Molecular Biology
So here I sit in my den sipping on a nice cup of Peet’s go-go juice thinking of my undergraduate days. I set off in the Natural Sciences sitting through Orgo, P chem, A chem, every MCDB course imaginable. I know there are many of you that recall the one semester you crammed a Biochemistry, Org chem and Physics course in one semester and thought your life was miserable.
Julie Mida Hinderer – BS 2007 Environment; MS 2010 Natural Resources and Environment
I’m just going to put it out there: most scientists are clueless when it comes to communicating with the public (or with any non-scientist, for that matter).
We scientists have a particular writing style geared towards publication in peer-reviewed journals. We attend highly specialized conferences and present our work to small groups of our colleagues who speak the same language. But if our findings never reach the majority of the public, is our work relevant?
Jeff Chin – AB 2008 Music, Economics
Was it me? Was it my degree? Why wasn’t I able to get a job in the career I wanted?
After six months of tapping every contact I knew, traveling to New York five different times for interviews, nothing panned out. As a double concentration in economics and music from LSA, I thought my dream job would come easier. I questioned my decision to attend school at Michigan. Should I have attended a music school in hopes of attaining my dream job?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about something an LSA alumnus who graduated in 1984 once said about his liberal arts experience at Michigan. He told me that getting a degree from LSA taught him that he knew nothing. Simply, his degree made him aware of all that he still needed to learn. I’m not sure if he knew it at the time, but he was quoting Socrates. (“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”)