Diverging paths: Alumni discuss their professional pursuits

By Reiley Adelson
Staff Writer

With a world of opportunities, the graduating class faces a life that can be full of twists and turns as they leave the halls of St. Michael’s College. For many seniors, the career path ahead may hold a future that seems unrelated to their majors or minors while an undergraduate. The Defender recently interviewed alumni who are working in fields that are different from their area of study.
Emily Kaas ’10, came into school as a journalism major. Half-way through her time at the college, she realized journalism was not what she wanted to pursue. Her political science minor inspired her to consider law school. “I had always kind of had it in the back of my mind. I just really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I stayed in Burlington for the summer after graduation and worked at a summer camp and just tried to figure out what my next move was.” She said she moved back home to Connecticut and worked in an AmeriCorps program for two years, a non-profit, and then for Hannaford. In 2013, she decided to go to law school.
Currently, Kaas, now a lawyer, works for a federal judge in district court of Connecticut.
“I feel like I had a good, well-rounded, base leaving St. Mike’s. They say nothing really prepares you for law school, even pre-law classes; but I found that journalism classes did prepare me really well. It’s a lot of writing and critical thinking; the persuasion you have to have in an objective way.
Sara Denton ’14, graduated with a double major in elementary education and psychology. When she was offered a job at State Street Corporation, a financial services company, she had interned for, she took it, thinking it would only be temporary.
“I definitely thought I was going to be a teacher but I guess in needing to have a job I took something that I was kind of interested in and that just grew. To be honest I haven’t even thought about teaching,” Denton said. Currently, she is working in State Street’s Austin, Texas subdivision doing a hybrid of human resources work with a project analyst role.

Photo courtesy of Emily Kass

“It’s hard as a 17 or 18-year-old to be like ‘oh this is definitely what I want to do for the rest of my life.’ If you’re too narrow minded, then it’s detrimental because you never know what’s going to spark your interests. You might not realize that until later in life and then you can always fall back on the education you had where you did have many options and a network of people who could potentially help you in any field,” Denton said.
Brigid Guarino ’07, came into college with a plan to get a four-year degree as a history major with a religious studies minor. “Even though I didn’t have a particular career path in mind I knew that just having a solid bachelor’s degree from a liberal arts background would open a lot of doors for me,” Guarino said.
A work study position in the admissions office at the college made her more appealing to two job prospects, including her current employer, BAYADA Home Health Care, where she has worked as the Client Services Manager, for almost seven years. An open mind and research on the company made her feel certain that this was the place she was meant to be.

Photo by Sixiang Chen

Rev. Brian Cummings, a priest at the college, entered college with a political science major, then switched to accounting, and after graduating in 1986, took a job at Price Waterhouse [now PricewaterhouseCoopers]. He later became a Catholic priest. Cummings said that vocation continued to come up in his prayer life and that he eventually explored it. “I went in to try it, half-expecting that I wouldn’t stay,” he said, adding that what he learned in accounting and in obtaining his CPA license, applies to his life each day.
With graduation only a few, short, weeks away, many seniors will be leaving with grad school, jobs or job prospects to look forward to, while others may have different plans for life after SMC, just like so many other alumni did when they graduated.
“I always tell students to keep an open mind because I would argue that maybe a third to a half of our alumni are not working in a field that they majored in,” said Angela Armour ’99, who majored in journalism. Now, Armour works as the Director of Alumni and Parent Engagements at SMC, where she has been for the past eight years. “Your career can make so many twists and turns, as did mine and I think that’s the best thing about a liberal arts education, it prepares you for what’s next.”