Recent grads find their niche
Going to college and getting a degrees is about more than just landing a great job after graduation, it’s about finding that “thing” you’re passionate about, that you enjoy and that makes you happy doing it — while also preparing you for the ever-changing job market. The following recent graduates of our colleges took advantage of learning opportunities both on and off campus to discover their calling. Read the excerpts below from stories the colleges shared — and be inspired!
- Andrew Lor ’14, Concordia University, St. Paul
- Elizabeth Bews ’15, St. Olaf College
- Jyothi Dhanwada ’15, Macalester College
- Jenna Dobosenski ’14, The College of St. Scholastica
- Scott Miller ’10, Bethany Lutheran College
Andrew Lor had long given up on his education, spending time around drugs, gangs and juvenile detention centers while barely graduating high school. He saw his younger siblings heading down the same path and he knew there was one thing that could change all of their circumstances: college. Andrew is now a teacher and mentor for local youth, graduating with a Secondary Education degree from Concordia in 2014.
“With my experience, I can help change things for kids like me,” said Andrew. “I want to give back to students who don’t like school, help them see that education is worth more than they think.”
School was always hard for Andrew. He spent the first few years of his life in a Thai refugee camp before the family made its way to Minnesota. Learning English as a second language made education a challenge, compounded by the fact that everyone in his family was in the same boat and he didn’t have the support to make school valuable. Andrew found solace in all the wrong places, ending up in a juvenile detention center as a teenager.
“I moved out on my own after high school and worked two jobs to support myself, but I couldn’t see myself doing that the rest of my life. Then I saw my brothers doing the same things as me.”
Andrew wanted to help them, and the only way that he saw things changing for his family was if he went to college.
Elizabeth Bews ’15 signed up for St. Olaf College’s summer Archaeological Methods course three years ago thinking that it would be a fun way to fill a general education requirement.
The five-week program, based in Antiochia ad Cragum in southern Turkey, introduces students to Mediterranean archaeological field techniques and methods. It’s taught by St. Olaf Associate Professor of History Timothy Howe, an associate director of the Antiochia ad Cragum Archaeological Project.
But the course quickly became more than just “fun” for Bews — it helped her discover a passion for ancient history and a potential career path.
Bews will return this July for her third summer in Antiochia, where she has participated as both a student and teaching assistant.
She will also serve on staff at the American Research Center in Sofia, a Bulgarian archaeological field school whose mission is to bring together North American and Southeast European scholars and institutes.
She says these experiences — combined with those at St. Olaf, where she majored in history, French, and Russian area studies — have given her an excellent foundation for a future in archaeology.
“After working in both Bulgaria and Turkey, I discovered that archaeology fused all my interests in a way that I had never dreamed possible,” Bews says. “The combination of independent coursework at St. Olaf based on my applied fieldwork abroad provided me with invaluable insight into what a career in archaeology would entail.”
Jyothi Dhanwada ’15 (Cedar Falls, Iowa) never imagined a career in healthcare consulting. But in her senior year, an information session with Macalester alumni working in the field caught her attention. “I knew I wanted to work in the healthcare field in some capacity after graduation, but was uncertain what kind of work I wanted to do,” said Dhanwada. “Seeing Macalester alumni so excited about the work they were doing motivated me to apply.” She now works as a healthcare consultant within the Leadership Acceleration Program at Optum Consulting, a branch of UnitedHealth Group, in Eden Prairie.
“Consulting is all about problem-solving,” said Dhanwada. She works with providers, health plans, employers, individuals, and the government to solve complex business problems. Sometimes she manages a project to maintain a specific time, scope, and budget; other times she enhances a project plan to better fit the needs of a client. Recently, Dhanwada worked with a provider network on the West Coast to strengthen claims-processing, payment management, and revenue generation.
“Consulting is fast-paced and often ambiguous work, especially in the area of healthcare, which is becoming more complex and interconnected,” said Dhanwada. “The most challenging aspect of the job is working through the ambiguity to produce tangible results that will meet the needs of your client.”
As a biology and political science major, Dhanwada entered the consulting field with a different perspective than the traditional finance or business major, a distinction she considers advantageous.
By her own admission, Jenna Dobosenski isn't really a "selfie person." But when National Public Radio (NPR) put out a call for millennials to share a selfie, along with a comparison of the words the census uses to define them and how they would identify themselves, she couldn't resist.
Tree hugger. Musician. Adventurer. Minnesotan. Pro-Equality. Feminist. MBA Student. Learner. Big Dreamer. Animal Lover. That's how Dobosenski described herself.
And now millions of people nationwide know it. Out of the thousands of people who submitted their selfies, Dobosenski's was one of four to be featured nationally on the radio and online.
But it wasn't easy.
"Identifying what I felt I represent was a real challenge," she said. "It took me out of my comfort zone and forced me to reflect on myself and evaluate how I live out the standards I've set."
Fortunately, she's had plenty of experience in this at St. Scholastica.
When Dobosenski was considering colleges, one thing she didn't prioritize was a liberal arts foundation.
"I was pretty confident that I wanted to go into physical therapy at the time, so I wasn't looking for that at all in a college."
But after being exposed to a number of different subjects once she got here, she discovered a new path – management. And it didn't just change her career trajectory. It changed the way she thought.
WHAT YOU DO: As a finance associate I work with organizational leaders and agri-business to financially manage company projects along with completing daily accounting procedures. We budget and execute financial plans for projects which will increase the profitability and awareness of Minnesota soybean producers throughout the state and across the entire world.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU: I am drawn to this field because it provides excellent opportunities to not only work on the financial end of a business, but to develop relationships with members of the organization and community. It combines the concreteness and tangible answers that numbers provide, with the uneven yet exciting times of building friendships through work. The many aspects of an organization from a financial standpoint can be complex and very rewarding at the same time.
HOW BETHANY HAS PREPARED YOU: The curriculum at Bethany was extremely applicable to my current job. There will always be things you learn on the job that you can’t learn in the classroom, but the foundation that the classes provided helped me to obtain my current job. The teachers are also a large part of helping prepare you for life after college. Any of them are willing to help you find a job and be a resource throughout the entire process. In fact, the reason I heard about the job I have now was through a Bethany professor. I had been searching for a new job about a year after I graduated and if it weren’t for him, I doubt I would have even known about the opening.