As the Honors Research Fellow, it is difficult to explain what exactly I do. Running the Instagram page is a relatively straightforward explanation and so is brainstorming and assisting with Honors Program initiatives, but the alumni research part is where the confusion starts. After all, not many people have a job that requires them to trace hundreds of SNC Honors graduates from 2008 and on. Although this is a time-consuming and often obscure task, acquiring this information will begin the process of connection and expansion, and I am so excited to see how this unique initiative aids both current students and program alumni in the comings years.
When I arrived on campus this fall, Stacey Wanta and I began the information-gathering process, essentially starting from square one. There had been a few prior compilations, mainly based off of past Senior Honors Banquet information, but nothing was all in one place. Using information from the Office of Alumni Relations and Honors Program records, I created a list of every graduate of the program, from 2008 on. Although we have some basic contact information and intended career paths at our disposal, we understand that so much in life rarely goes as planned. This meant loads of cross-checking, contacting, connecting on LinkedIn, updating the spreadsheet, and repeating. With each new connection, I saw first-hand that plans at graduation rarely reflect your life ten or even just five years down the road. I have learned that math/econ double majors can go on to coach collegiate soccer teams, and that graduate programs exist for subjects I had never previously heard of. And most importantly, I have seen first-hand that individuals following their passions can truly achieve anything they set their mind to. Especially when they have the Honors Program at St. Norbert College to include on their resume (wink, wink).
The sense of community among the students and staff of the program is the consistent praise I hear whenever the Honors Program is brought up in conversation. The collective focus on support and motivation infused with a deep love of learning is what has built and continues to drive this community. This is what we hope to continue endorsing long after graduation, and in doing to, to create an identity that positively impacts one’s personal and professional life. Alumni will be provided with resources and updates on the program, while current students will be given access to the accomplishments of their incredible predecessors. Alumni with similar interests and vocations who are willing to share their time will aid students with questions about graduate degrees, employers and career paths. Additionally, local alumni would be able to speak to current students about their life post-graduation, meet to address individual questions, and even host job shadows. Throughout these past several months I have learned so much from our alumni, and witnessing how personal interests can lead to such diverse and rewarding career paths has inspired me to branch out and think more deeply about where I can see myself in the future. Whether that’s a becoming a rock-climbing environmentalist lawyer, an English teacher in South Korea, or an astrophysicist, I know that it is possible. And just as importantly, I know who to talk to if I have questions along the way.
If you know of or happen to be an alumnus of the program, please help us to build this network to encourage the next generations of Honors Program Alumni. You inspire us and we want to share your story. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or add Elisha Jaeke on LinkedIn to begin.