Alums impart wisdom on Homecoming panel

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photo by AnneMarie Elsinger

Last Friday, over 40 alumni gave up some of their Homecoming weekend to speak to current students and answer questions about their career choices.

The topics included economics, education, health sciences, marketing, MBA, psychology, social work, sports management and sports science. These alumni offered insight about their education paths, their job searches and their experiences while on the job. The goal of these alumni panels was to show students the vast number of possibilities after their time at Loras.

From recent graduates to recent retirees, the alumni came from all different career backgrounds including managers, teachers, counselors, medical doctors, analysts, insurance advisors and athletic trainers. The panels were very well-attended; there was truly something for everyone. Even if someone’s dream job was not represented on a panel, the alumni offered some extremely valuable advice that could apply to any career.

Throughout the evening, alumni encouraged students to not waste time studying subjects they hate and instead pursue what they love. Many students believe once they have decided on a career, any further discoveries against such a path are irrelevant or should be ignored. It’s scary to give up such a deep-rooted dream, but students have to do what’s right for them. That’s what the college experience is all about.

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way to do it,” one alumni said at the health sciences panel in Wahlert Hall. “But do what you love, not what you think you should do.”

Another common thread from the alumni was their gratitude to their Loras experience, especially its commitment to a liberal arts education. Although being a well-rounded student may not mean much to present students, future employers really take a liberal arts education into consideration. By exposing students to many different areas of study through requirements such as general education courses, Loras is creating people who can work as members of a professional team. Gaining background in areas such as English, the sciences, ethics, and world cultures in addition to majors and minors, Loras students are able to better understand people in other academic and professional capacities, helping them make more connections and help businesses succeed in the future.

This well-roundedness is especially important for future business owners. For example, one alumni who became a dentist now owns his own private practice. He has a strong science background but wished he would have taken advantage of more business and economic classes while at Loras. For as much as students complain about the hassle of fulfilling all the advanced gen ed requirements before graduating, they should be truly grateful for them.

“All your classes will suck sometimes,” he told the room, not bothering to sugarcoat the reality that every student in the room was thinking. “You will not be able to see the value right away, but I promise you will eventually.”

The gen ed requirements force students to take the classes that will benefit us throughout their lives. Although they don’t seem fun or relevant now, the information and skills students learn from those classes will be invaluable.

Whether or not students attended the alumni panel, they should take their advice to heart. Not only do events such as career panels help students self-reflect on their future and realize the benefits of current classes, but they also open their eyes to the endless possibilities after Loras.

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