K Students take on the Civil Liberties & Public Policy (CLPP) Conference

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity of traveling with a group of students from K to the annual Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) Conference in Massachusetts. CLPP is a yearly event that is dedicated to creating a space for individuals to come together and discuss reproductive justice– its history, the work that has been done, the work currently being done, and what is yet to come. The conference lasted from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, and hosted a variety of workshops to attend with other events such as an opportunity to network and panels made up of activists explaining their work and organizations.

The schedule of the conference was as followed: checking in on Friday afternoon, attending a workshop, dinner, and then an abortion speak out (this is where anyone who has ever had an abortion is able to share as much or as little about their experience in a safe space). Following the speak out was the screening of the movie, Margaritas with a Straw, chosen for its representation of disabled folks and LGBTQ folks within the film. On Saturday there was an open plenary to start the day where activists from different organizations said a few words about their work or organization. This was followed by a quick lunch and then the opportunity to attend three workshops. Following the workshops was dinner with the opportunity to network with other individuals at the conference. Later that night there was an 80s themed dance party for everyone at the conference. On the last day, Sunday, we had the chance to attend one more workshop before attending the closing plenary, which was a panel consisting of four activists who talked about their work.

One of my favorite parts of the conference was the closing plenary because the theme of the panel was how one can (and why one should) keep joy, liberation, and self-care at the front of their activism. All the speakers on the panel discussed how important it is to find time for self-care and to participate in the activities that make you happy. Most activists are “burnt out” by their late 20s which can mostly be attributed to the fact that many individuals keep themselves so busy and immersed in their work that they can forget to take a break, or don’t take a break for fear that it can be seen as being “weak” or “lazy” or “not as involved” compared to other activists. However, the panelists on Sunday said that self-care has only made their activism stronger and has made them feel more proud of the work they do, whether it be working to help mothers end sustenance abuse or helping women of color gain better access to education.

As someone who participates in small steps of activism and who would like to keep activism as an aspect and activity within their lives, it’s comforting to know that that doesn’t mean I should ever stop taking care of myself in order to help others. There is time and space to make sure that you are being taken care of while also improving the lives of others. No one can reach full liberation if we, as the activists, are allowing ourselves to suffer under the restraints of ourselves.

-Karina Pantoja ’20

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

Make Your Way to K

Here’s the thing, at this point in the college process, you are deciding where you’re going to end up for the next four years of your life. The next four years – it sounds scary and almost like a decision too big for an seventeen or eighteen year old, but let me tell you this, you’re going to end up exactly where you need to. However, while you’re calculating the distance from home or trying to figure out what school colors you’d look better in, you should read this list of 10 reasons why you should make your way to K:

1. Our entire campus lies in (barely) a mile-long radius. It will literally, at most, take you five
minutes to walk from one end of the campus to another. Do you know how great that is in the winter?

2. We have free food at every. single. event. I’m serious, we have so much food to offer you!

3. Downtown Kalamazoo is only a short walk away. There’s everything from a movie theater to restaurants to a museum and stores just a few minutes away!

4. We have the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership (also known as the best building on campus). You have the ability to get involved and attend various events with topics that range from Native American representation throughout history to resistance through art.

5. Jorge Gonzalez is the most wonderful, caring, and genuine man you might ever meet and he is also the President of the College (this is a fact). Come for Jorge, he’d love you!

6. We’re on a trimester system (three 10-week terms), which means we start school later (mid-September) and you get a six-week winter break (end of November until the second week of January) – it’s what you need, trust me.

7. The average class size at K is 13. Our small class sizes mean you get to make valuable connections with your professors, which comes in handy for recommendations and networking in the future.

8. STUDY ABROAD. I mean, let’s be real here, what schools allows you to study abroad for a full academic year and still graduate on time? (Hint: Kalamazoo College does.)

9. By the time you’re a sophomore, you have the opportunity to hold various leadership positions within student organizations. Typically, you wouldn’t serve on an executive board of a club or organization at a bigger university until your junior or senior year, but here at K, you can start as early as the end of your first year so you can go into your sophomore year holding certain positions.

10. You will literally get more in your four years here at K – from career development to study abroad to independent research, your work throughout your time here at K will put you on track to obtain more in a lifetime.

Now there you have it, ten reasons (although there are so many more) on why YOU should make your way to K. We hope to see you soon!

Karina Pantoja ’20

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