I work for the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that helps more than 5 million Americans improve the lives of their fellow citizens through service. However, I graduated from William & Mary with a degree in economics. What is interesting about my career path is that it was not a complete surprise. As an undergraduate, I discovered my deep passion for nonprofit organizations and as a liberal arts student I was able to pursue this passion. Whether it was an economics course that drew comparison between nonprofits and for-profits or a sociology course that explored the need of nonprofit organizations in society, at no point throughout my education was I pigeonholed into my major. As a result, I find that I am able to move fluidly in this field, and I suspect other fields, without fear of feeling inadequately prepared for the challenges ahead.
My liberal arts education allowed me to gain proficiency in a field or two but did not hinder me from immersing myself in other subjects. I was able to take courses in sociology, arts, mathematics, computer science, philosophy, government and the list goes on. All of these courses taught me something valuable that has increased my knowledge of the world and different perspectives. I feel confident that I could pursue a career in government, public health, economics or just about any other field. Through the diversity of my study I have acquired skills that are useful in any career path: research, writing, public speaking and critical thinking skills.
Talking is something that everyone has to do. Some people have to do it in front of large crowds. In my current position, I am expected to give presentations multiple times per week. Before college, I was not a seasoned public speaker. In fact, I was plagued by paralyzing stage fright. This was quickly expunged as I was called on to present in most of my classes. Presenting on a wide variety of subjects has provided me with the confidence to get in front of a crowd and talk about my organization, a subject that I know quite well. I also took a course on public speaking and, to this day, I use the skills I learned. Recently, I sent an email to my professor thanking her for her tutelage on the subject of public speaking; the skills have served me well.
Another aspect of my job is the need to answer questions not just about my organization but about the current state of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in DC and sometimes around the world. These are questions that usually require me to touch on government, sociology, epidemiology and economics. I am able to speak with confidence and knowledge about a wide variety of topics. People are multifaceted and I believe our education should be as well. I received a multifaceted, liberal arts education at William & Mary and I know that I am all the better because of it.