The 2018 Career Summit: Past Hornets Return to the Hive for a Impactful Weekend of Professional Development

Springtime brings many joys here in Kalamazoo, Michigan – budding flowers, sunshine, and the long-anticipated arrival of Oberon beer from Bell’s Brewery (if you’re of age, of course!), but it is also that time of year on K’s campus when seniors begin searching for that ideal post-grad job and younger students hope to secure a summer internship. Regardless of what stage of college you are in, thinking about careers and career-building can feel daunting. There’s a lot to consider – resumes, networking, interviews, oh my! The Center for Career and Professional Development, or the CCPD, is always a resource on campus for anyone who needs their cover letters looked at or really any career assistance. But more recently the CCPD has begun facilitating a weekend-long career-building extravaganza for students to build resources and confidence when it comes to all things professional.

Conceived and sponsored by Brad O’Neill ’93, former senior vice president of SurveyMonkey and CEO and co-founder of a new startup, Depot Global Inc., the Career Summit took place this year on April 6th and 7th, bringing in Silicon Valley executives, freelance photographers, nonprofit leaders, and more. This was the second year that K hosted the Career Summit, which provides students with an opportunity to network with professionals from various fields. The weekend consisted of many panels, networking receptions, lunches, dinners, and breakout sessions.

While the majority of the Career Summit speakers were owners of startups and businesses, students outside of the business major still found the event useful. “The conversations I had at the Career Summit pushed me to consider a wider range of career paths than my major,” says Claire Howland ’18, Biology major. “And [the Career Summit] reminded me of the versatility of a liberal arts education.”

The topic of the opening Friday night panel was non-linear career paths. Panelists shared their stories of twisting and turning paths that led them to their current job. They emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind and always listening to what interests you, even if it doesn’t fit your preconceived notion of what your career might look like.

“I think it was a great reminder that the K Community doesn’t go away when you graduate,” Claire continued. “The Summit made it clear to me that there is a vast network of alumni who are so generous with their time and so eager to help fellow Hornets succeed.”

Each of the twelve professionals who spoke at the Career Summit were so excited to talk to current K students; connecting them to resources and providing general career advice. They dedicated two days of their time and energy (some of them flying from the other side of the country!) purely out of a desire to help K students succeed. We can all rest assured that whatever the big scary world of career-building may bring, a robust network of alumni will always be there to support their fellow Hornets.

-Savannah Kinchen ‘18

Monte Carlo: A Cherished Tradition

Five students dressed up for Monte Carlo
Savannah (far right) with her friends before heading off to this year’s Monte Carlo

Every college has that one event on campus that is everyone’s favorite. At K, that event is Monte Carlo. For one night during winter quarter, the Hicks Student Center is transformed into a multi-floor casino. Students, faculty, and staff arrive in their most glamorous attire to spend the night playing cards, eating delicious food, and taking pictures. The tradition dates back to the 1970s, making it something that both current students and alumni can share.

What is special about Monte Carlo, and all of the events hosted by OSI, is that it is largely planned and implemented by K students. “OSI set up a Monte Carlo Committee comprising of students from different class years and varying backgrounds,” Riya explains. “They were tasked with advising us on everything related to the event, even the minutest of all details, like what shade of white or yellow we should use for the lights.”  This committee met twice a week for several weeks leading up to the event to make sure that everything would be ready for the big night.

Four women in a photo booth photo
Photo booth pictures from Monte Carlo are a must!

One of the tasks for this committee was to recruit faculty volunteers. As is tradition, faculty members serve as dealers for the Craps, Blackjack, and Poker tables. “It’s fun to interact with your professors in a more personal way outside of the classroom setting,” Karina Pantoja ’20 comments. President of the College, Dr. Jorge Gonzalez, not only attends the event but has become quite a skillful Craps dealer over the past two years.

As a senior who has attended four Monte Carlos over the years, I can safely say that this is the most highly anticipated event of K’s academic year. In the weeks leading up to the event there is a buzz around campus as students ask each other about what dress they are going to wear and wonder about what food will be served. I am a personal fan of the spinach artichoke dip and chocolate fountain – and this year there was even sushi!

While the glamor and excitement are certainly part of the draw, the real value of this event lies in the community aspect of it. “It’s always fun to see everyone dressed up and enjoying a K tradition!” Elyse Tuennerman ’18 says. In a campus climate that deeply values academic success, it is refreshing to have a fun and fabulous event that everyone can enjoy together.

Savannah Kinchen ‘18

Hornets Swarm Silicon Valley

Kalamazoo College’s winter break lasts almost seven weeks, an ideal time for students to engage in one of several career immersion experiences sponsored by K’s Center for Career and Professional Development. One of these is K to the Bay, made possible by the generosity and initiative of K alum Brad O’Neill ’93, former senior vice president of SurveyMonkey and CEO and co-founder of a new startup, Depot Global Inc. The four-day program sends students to San Francisco to explore potential careers and network with Silicon Valley executives. K senior Elyse Tuennerman was one of the lucky students who participated this past winter break.

Students taking a photo in front of the Google building
Elyse taking a selfie in front of the Google headquarters.

As an anthropology and sociology major with a concentration in public policy and urban affairs, Elyse initially did not think she should apply.

“I thought that it was more of a technology-based program that I wouldn’t necessarily be considered for, but I met Brad [O’Neill] at the Career Summit last year and he encouraged me to apply,” she said. “A lot of the companies that groups have met with in the past and that we met with this year are either smart city- or Internet of things-based, which relate to my interests. I also talked to some people who had done it in the past and figured I might as well apply.”

And she’s glad that she did! K to the Bay provides the opportunity for Kalamazoo College students to interact with entrepreneurs and CEOs of major companies in the Bay Area and potentially jump-start their life after K.

“We got to meet with executives from Apple and Google as well as lawyers from Twitter, Facebook, and Square,” Elyse said.

Two students on bicycles in front of the Google headquarters
Elyse (right) and another “K to the Bay” participant taking a ride around the Google Headquarters in Silicon Valley, California.

The application process is very thorough for this life-changing career opportunity.

“We submitted a written application and then we had an interview with Chuck Stull, who was the academic advisor, and Valerie Miller from the Center for Career and Professional Development,” Elyse said. “And then after we were accepted, we had five training information sessions where we learned about Silicon Valley, and we prepared by doing research on the people that we would meet.”

After a month of preparation, Elyse, along with five other K students, found themselves on a flight to San Francisco.

“It was a really wonderful networking experience. It was great to get to spend a lot of meaningful time with both K alumni and executives in Silicon Valley,” Elyse said. “It was cool to get to visit office spaces and really see what life is like in these companies, which I think made it different than your standard networking event.”

Getting to meet alumni Val Cole ’83, former senior executive at Apple and now a consultant and philanthropist, was a highlight for her.

“My favorite part was getting to meet alumni like Brad [O’Neill] and Val Cole because they had so many interesting stories about their time at K and their paths  to where they are now,” she said. “It was really exciting to get to hear their stories and how much they love K.”

When asked what she felt was the value of programs like K to the Bay, Elyse said, “I think that it is a really amazing way to show students how far your K connections can go and how far alumni are spread. It can really help you get a sense of what life is like in a particular career or in a particular city and really get hands-on networking experience.”

For more information about the K to the Bay program, please visit the Center for Career and Professional Development website.

Interview conducted by Savannah Kinchen ’18

Gracious Living

“The end of learning is gracious living.”

I remember the happiness that buzzed through the campus when a Day of Gracious Living was announced. (This was in the Paleolithic Era, so we didn’t have smart phones but were pretty good with smoke signals.) An entire day to head out to the dunes, fall back asleep, spend time with friends –or catch up on that assignment you were going to have to pull an all-nighter to finish. Thank you, Sweetwater’s, for providing the caffeine and sugar that allowed me to graduate.

I can’t recall exactly how I spent each Day of Gracious Living, and not because sometimes Bell’s was involved, but to this day I love the concept. A free day. You can reflect on your larger purpose; your future; life, the universe and everything –or you can choose to relax and enjoy the moment. The concept of gracious living told me that there is a point to hard work beyond acceptance into grad school or crafting the perfect resume. Your education and career are means to an end, and not an end in themselves. For years I was a little baffled by the phrase, “the end of learning is gracious living,” as I wondered why learning should end. Aren’t we lifelong learners? What happens after the end of learning?

In fact, it wasn’t until I wrote this that I realized the use of the word “end” is not in the sense of a finale or termination, but in the sense of purpose. The purpose of learning is to understand how to conduct your life in a gracious manner. The purpose of learning is to allow you to improve your entire existence, not just your resume or a GRE score. Learning opens the door into gracious living.

K gave me that.

-Corey Schultz ’97

This story starts at the end…

Matt Thieleman ’07


The story starts at the end…

I’m standing next to my good friend, Karman Kent ’07, talking with a 19-year-old UNC student about the need for greater mental health support on campus. We’re wrapping up a two-day workshop on mindful leadership with some of the brightest minds I’ve ever met.

I just led that workshop. I’m ridiculously fortunate.

Yesterday I had dinner and drinks with former classmates and we recounted stories from baseball and study abroad. Two days ago, I arrived in Chapel Hill for the first time and met the baby daughter of two friends I hadn’t seen in years.

Seriously. Fortunate.

Because 13 years ago I picked the path that seemed right for me at the time, and found myself in a place that encouraged me to keep picking my own path over and over.

Starting a business is scary. Especially when it’s in a “new” industry that’s often met with raised eyebrows and heavy doses of skepticism. When I decided a year and half ago that I was going to bring mindfulness meditation to corporate America, I knew I was in for some tough days.

And tough days I’ve had. Questioning my sanity in giving up a promising career as a marketing professional. Being told no one will pay for what I’m offering. Reaching out to prospective customers and getting crickets in response. Tweaking my business plan over and over, trying to find a way to make a profitable business.

It’s hard. It’s scary.

But Golden Bristle wouldn’t have made it out of the “I have this crazy idea” planning stages if not for the support of my friends and family, especially my fellow K alums.

I moved to Nashville a few years ago largely due to the encouragement of a good friend, Mike Morosi K ’07, who I’ve been trading business ideas with since we met. And I can honestly say if I had never made that move, my business wouldn’t exist. Mike and others (Rob Connor ’07, Rob Duszynski ’09) have been part brain trust, part support group — offering their advice, serving as guinea pigs for my services, telling me to chill and have a beer when I’m pushing too hard. All the stuff a fledgling founder needs.

So when I announced to the (Facebook) world that Golden Bristle was a real, actual thing, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that another K alum immediately offered me an opportunity I’d never dreamed of.


Karman (Hamlin) Kent ’07


Golden Bristle… something about that name just embodies Lux Esto – a concept that Matt and I grew to appreciate so much during our “Four and Forever” and a daily choice that continues to guide my path.

My husband, Caleb Kent K ’07, and I started off on a crazy new adventure almost nine years ago when we moved to North Carolina without knowing a soul.  As intentional serendipity would have it, I had the chance to speak with Kathleen Shapley-Quinn K ’83 who lived in Chapel Hill, our new home, at a phone-a-thon my senior year. A brief fifteen minute conversation somehow ended in a part-time job offer and an invitation to dinner. I was humbled by her kindness and inspired to embrace the community that extended so far beyond those brick paths through the quad.

The confirmation that we were in fact meant for the Triangle area was solidified when I received a call from the Education Program Leader at The Emily Krzyzewski Center who excitedly informed me that she had just returned from visiting her husband’s family in Kalamazoo. Kim Cummings–beloved Sociology and Anthropology professor at K–had somehow convinced his daughter-in-law to create a position for me. Lesson learned: never underestimate the power of a small community filled with passionate people who not only want to make the world a better place but also choose to bring others along for the ride.

Fast forward several years and I’m working with the bright and motivated high-achieving students Matt mentioned, who remind me very much of my amazing classmates. They challenge me daily. They inspire me to be bold and take risks. They struggle, like all of us. We’ve all been there, 9th week rolls around and there are a million things to be done. The high level of stress and the low level of sleep are badges we wear. We work hard, but at what cost?

How much happier may I have been had I learned to prioritize self-care and create space for regular reflection at nineteen? I, too, felt fortunate to be able to collaborate with Matt and to share such important gifts with my students, my “kids.” I love the fact that my K story continues. It morphs and deepens as I look at the incredible ways my friends are investing in other’s lives. It inspires me to ask big questions about how I’m reflecting on and exuding that “Light Within.”


Live to Write

Despite my insistence that 1990 was ’about 10 years ago’, this year my class (K’94) will meet in Kalamazoo for our 20th reunion. When I visited the reunion page to start making plans, I found a link to our class yearbook and in the yearbook I found this picture:

Vintage class photo of fifteen students with handwritten note Job-hunting English majors: Live to write! Don't write to live. You can't eat words! Signed, Ellen Caldwell
(That’s me, second row, second from the left.)

I was lucky enough to be an English major at K, and I was even luckier to have Dr. Ellen Caldwell as my advisor, mentor, and teacher. She knew her students well….so well, in fact, she could almost see into the future with her sage advice.

Her encouragement to “live to write” instead of writing to live may not have made much sense to me at the time, but 20 years later, I think I can finally see the difference. The times I have tried to “write to live,” I’ve ended up going down dead-end paths and feeling lost. On the other hand, when I have been able to “live to write,” I have had incredible journeys that have filled me to the top.

Since I’ve left K, I have lived to write while teaching English to Hmong and Somali refugees. I’ve lived to write as I tried to help prisoners learn to read. I lived to write through 15 years of trying (and finally succeeding!) to get a Master’s degree. I lived to write while getting married and raising two daughters. Now, I live to write at my dream job — combining my degrees and teaching experience in a flexible, innovative way.

As you consider your college journey, I hope you too will be able to take Dr. Caldwell’s advice to heart. Live to write, no matter what form that might take for you.

-Hillary Frazey ’94