Women’s Leadership Alliance unveils scholarships, imparts job-seeking wisdom

The Women’s Leadership Alliance hosted an interactive workshop last week in which five alumnae returned to Loras to share insights on what they have learned while pursuing highly sought-after jobs in the communications industry.

The event was entitled “Interviewing and Networking for Communication Arts Majors.” Although this particular event was specifically geared toward the communication industry, there were broader messages for anyone who soon will be hunting for jobs in any field of study.

However, before the alumnae spoke about their experiences, Valorie Woerdehoff, who is director of foundation and government support at Loras, as well as a 1982 Loras graduate, shared some exciting news about the alliance. Just two years after its founding, the alliance has raised $30,000 toward the establishment of a new scholarship fund. So far, it is enough to award two students with the Women’s Leadership Alliance Scholarship.

This year, the alliance is seeking to award a scholarship to yet another student demonstrating a commitment to leadership and service, both on and off campus. Applicants must be a full-time, undergraduate female Loras student, preferably but not necessarily a junior or senior. The deadline for this year’s application period is March 29. To apply, contact Cayla Schneider at Cayla.schneider@loras.edu.

Students and faculty were thrilled to get a chance to interact with the five alumnae who agreed to participate in the event, according to Craig Schaefer, chair of the Communication Department. All of the Loras grads have either worked their way up in highly competitive arenas or have been instrumental in the development of evolving communication-related professions.

The women who returned to campus to share their stories and expertise were Beth Mund, a 1996 Loras grad and a founding member of the alliance who also is a professional keynote speaker and host of the “Casual Space” podcast; Meg Bucaro, a 1998 graduate who is a strategic communication coach, keynote speaker and adjunct college speech instructor; Penny Gralewski, a 1996 graduate who specializes in marketing software for tech startups as well as global conglomerates; Anna Johnson, a 2018 graduate who is a social media account manager/creative strategist at Fourge Social; and Allison Wong, a 2017 graduate who is a reporter for the Dubuque bureau of ABC affiliate KCRG-TV.

When asked why she returned to her alma mater, Gralewski said she wanted to thank the people who gave her the tools to get where she is today. In addition to that, to know that Loras students are giving a good face to the market, both during college and after.

She also said it was important to her and the other speakers to share her perspectives on what life is like after college.

“These are not things you learn in classes or you have to pay hundreds of dollars for in workshops,” Gralewski said.

Mund said communication majors face higher expectations in certain areas. She emphasized three areas in particular: Expertise with regard to media and marketing, persuasive public speaking skills, and strong quantitative and qualitative research skills.

Gralewski was quick to add something that might seem obvious, but it remains an area that can’t be underestimated.

“Anything in communication has higher expectations for accuracy, grammar, spelling, clear communication, and presence,” she said.

Mund said Loras instructors emphasize these areas in their teachings, and she added that Loras students are more equipped than they might realize.

“Communication majors are storytellers at heart,” she said.

Johnson echoed Mund’s sentiment that it is “common for college students to undervalue themselves, and feel like they are not worth much.”

“Trust in your talents and the skills you gained while you are at Loras,” Johnson said.

Bucaro punctuated the discussion about the importance of confidence.

“Dream big and do let anyone tell you differently,” she said.

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