By Sylvie Chace
March 8 was all-campus mentoring day at Evergreen. Mentoring day is a time where faculty, alumni, and students come together through various workshops and discuss how to make the most out of your Evergreen education and take it beyond the classroom. I had never participated in Mentoring Day before and found myself stumbling into an alumni panel titled, “Winding Paths.” While Evergreen gets a negative reputation by those more driven towards a traditional education-style, the alumni panel displayed a diversity of success from greener graduates.
The panel was facilitated by Katherine Heck, a staff member in the Office of Evergreen Alumni Programs. The other panelists included Brad Sweek, class of ‘92, and a current industrial designer in Seattle. Abby Kelso, class of ‘01, is also an Evergreen staff member, but began her career as an educator. The final panelist was Briana Marela, class of 2011, and an independant musician.
Katherine Heck began the panel by asking the group why they chose Evergreen in the first place. The overall consensus is that Evergreen offers an alternative education style that allows students to go deeper into whatever field of study they choose. Getting to know professors is also a huge draw to the school. Each panelist had a different life experience that led them to Evergreen but overall creating your own structure was a common thread throughout the discussion.
“Evergreen showed me to question art for arts sake […] I’m not saying art is bad but all of us as individuals need to ask these questions” Sweek stated on the panel, arguing that Evergreen taught him how to challenge his field of study and ask the bigger questions.
The questions asked soon got the attention of current Evergreen students as the panelists answered what they wish they had known and how to get jobs after graduating. Abby Kelso pushed that students recognize the resources available on campus while they still have the chance to utilize them.
“The most frustrating experiences proved to be the most valuable in the long run” Kelso says that Evergreen taught her to collaborate and negotiate with others and that this skill has served her during her career.
Kelso also brought copies of her resume to the panel so students could see what types of things a greener grad has used to get jobs outside of the college. When asked how job hunting has been post-Evergreen, the consensus was that due to the interdisciplinary nature of our education here, greener grads are flexible and can mold to many different types of jobs. Kelso stated how she planned to be a scientist and ended up going for a teaching position and became a successful educator.
“If you want it bad enough […] as long as you’re open to different ways of pursuing it, in my experience, it will happen” Sweek added his experience as a former art student.
The panel finished with open discussion between current students and alumni. The panelists were incredibly interested in the pursuits of current Evergreen students and each student who attended the panel was able to introduce themselves and ask further questions. Mentoring day happens happens every quarter, spring quarter mentoring day is set for May 17. Students can schedule one-on-one’s with faculty, as well as get feedback on their academic statement.