Class of 2010 moves on to new schools, career opportunities

Lea Negrin

The Whitman College class of 2010 will soon be spreading across the globe for jobs, civil service and a variety of other opportunities.

“Whatever it is they are doing . . . they want to be engaged, they want to do something that makes a difference, they want to move ahead with their lives and so they are very eager to do something significant,” said Susan Buchanan, director of the student engagement center.

Many seniors are planning on taking a year off to work with civil service programs that will allow them to continue learning through experiences in a non-academic setting.

“It’s the culture of Whitman College to take a year to explore career options, gain skills or prepare for graduate school,” said Buchanan.

Senior Jacqueline Kamm will be one such graduate; she will work for Teach for America in Denver, Colo. next year.

“I hadn’t planned on being a teacher but I think it’s a really great program that is addressing one of the biggest issues in our country, the education system, and it’s a great way to give back and do something very different from anything I’ve ever done in my life,” she said.

Other seniors are entering programs specific to their major. Senior religion major Michela Corcorran will be working in Washington D.C. this summer as the civil rights intern for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Corcorran expressed a belief that her Whitman education has prepared her for her future career interests.

“Since I’m immersing myself in a different culture and a different lifestyle . . . being able to deal with that appropriately and be self-conscious of my own place in that different culture or situation is important,” she said. “I think Whitman has prepared me a lot for those types of experiences.”

Some seniors plan on going straight to graduate school. Liz Matresse, an English major, will go to Saint Andrews University in Scotland this fall to pursue a Master of Letters in Medieval Literature.

“I wonder if, in some cases, [the writtens and orals at Whitman] are harder then things I’ll have to do there,” Matresse said.

For senior Ryan Finnegan, his Whitman experience helped him decide on his career as an Officer in the Marines. After receiving his diploma on May 23, Finnegan will swear into the military on May 27. Though military enlistment is not a consideration for most Whitman graduates, there is a small but steady tradition of military service.

“Whitman is why I did this route. In high school I wanted to be a teacher; all the opportunities at Whitman let me find out that I didn’t want to, at least not right now,” Finnegan said, noting that he also sought advice from alumni. “If I hadn’t taken [a] practical field experience class I might still be on that track.”

Other students will go straight into the world of work. Senior Maryn Juergens has a job lined up with Microsoft.   Juergens found her position through interviews with alumni arranged by the Student Engagement Center. She will be at Microsoft as a part of their College Hiring program which will train her for further positions and allow her to consider graduate school.

Juergens said that her Whitman education taught her how to think well.

“I think the most important thing about the liberal arts education at Whitman is that I’ve learned how to think, and I know that’s really an amorphous skill but . . . I know how to write, how to research, how to critically analyze a problem and find a solution, and I think that’s . . . a lot of what [Microsoft] wanted,” said Juergens.

Many seniors expressed similar sentiments about their Whitman experience, often agreeing that Whitman cultivates thought, global awareness and an ability analyze.

“I’m really really happy with my Whitman experience,” said senior Seth Bergeson, who was awarded a Watson Fellowship. “I think Whitman has really fostered innovative and creative thought and also thinking outside the box . . . What I’ve really taken away is the power of listening to people and really exchanging ideas.”

Buchanan is proud of the class of 2010 for continuing to excel despite the current job market.

“They fall along the same lines as what our students have done in past years,” said Buchanan. “It’s wonderful to see them moving ahead.”

Whether students are continuing onto graduate school, civil service or internships or are still in the midst of defining future plans, the class of 2010 appears to be off to a multitude of adventures.

“I’m just really excited and really lucky and I realize that and I do think it’s because of Whitman, I mean, it is because of Whitman, that I am where I am both in terms of the skills and the connections,” said Juergens.