This week, the Class of 2017’s graduating seniors will walk across the Commencement stage and begin a new chapter of their lives. We asked people who have been in their shoes—our alumni, ranging from one in the Class of 2016 to one celebrating his 50th Reunion this year—for their best advice about navigating life after Mac.

Joel Stegner ’71

Make choices to be a better you

“The opportunities you will encounter will be both surprising and mind boggling. Be vigilant to see and take advantage of them. Same goes for the potholes that shake our foundation. A Macalester education taught you to think for yourself and approach opportunities selectively, not letting others push you in directions you don’t want to go. Make choices to be a better you, whatever that is.” -Joel Stegner ’71

Stacia Wick ’97

The wider world needs you

“Don’t neglect your civic life. Finding a community to connect with after you leave Macalester may not be easy given the pressure and excitement of establishing a career and balancing it with your personal life. But the wider world needs you. You may also find that some of the most meaningful experiences, satisfying contributions, and surprising discoveries come about in the context of relationships with neighbors and engagement with local community groups. Organize! Volunteer! Protest! Vote! Contribute! Connect!” -Stacia Wick ’97

Broderick Grubb ’73 (right)

Being good and being right are not always appreciated

“Being good and being right are not always appreciated in the business world. America is not always a meritocracy. Don’t get down on yourself when others don’t appreciate all that you do. In the end, you must be true to yourself and your values.”-Broderick Grubb ’73

Katie Pastorius Benziger ’06 (second from left)

Be nice to everyone

“Use your connections, and network, network, network! After 11 years of med school, residency, and fellowship as a cardiologist, I got my first job interview because of someone I worked with on a summer internship while I was at Mac. Be nice to everyone.” -Katie Pastorius Benziger ’06

Always do a little more than asked

“Your ability to think critically, speak clearly, and write coherently for your new employer will ultimately show both you and them that there really is something special about a Macalester degree. However, it’s up to you to prove it. Listen, work hard, and always do a little more than asked.” -David Foster ’67

Megan Hartman ’07 (left)

It’s okay to fail

“At Macalester, I had a job in the Theatre and Dance Department. One of the professors had a quote on his door that has always stuck with me: No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. As a perfectionist, I wish I would have spent more of my 20s knowing it was okay to fail. It was difficult to feel comfortable sitting with that icky feeling of failure. Had I not been so scared to fail, I may have been willing to take much bigger risks. Some of my greatest learning experiences happened as a result of my failures. Be fearless. Be courageous. And know that you are never too old to have a costume bin. I still have mine, with several articles of clothing from many theme parties during my college and post-college years, and they will now be enjoyed by my family for years to come!” -Megan Hartman ’07

Aaron Miripol ’87

Keep in touch

“Stay connected with the close friends and professors you made at Mac. Find ways to stay close with these folks, beyond a reunion every five years—and Facebook and LinkedIn don’t count!” -Aaron Miripol ’87

Merita Bushi ’14

Go at your own pace

“Between moving, jobs/grad school, changing friend circles, and less free food/events, there is a lot of ‘new’ to adjust to. Go at your own pace, be open to changing your expectations, and embrace vulnerability. In short, embrace the winding path. And remember that social media is usually more of a highlights reel than the full ups-and-downs story.” -Merita Bushi ’14

Connect with new groups

“Seek out spaces around things that interest you: sports leagues, volunteering, performance groups, or religious spaces’ groups for people in their 20s and 30s. Those are great ways to meet new friends!” -Max Guttman ’16

Listen with an open mind and an open heart

“Listen. You are a smart person with strong intellectual abilities and critical thinking skills. The world needs those skills desperately, but they are useless if not used wisely. Macalester has done you a huge service that you might not see until you are no longer on campus. Macalester has listened to you—though you might not have always felt it. Macalester has taught you the value of discourse and has impressed upon you the imperative ability to connect with your fellow humans and to talk with them about painful, important topics. You will carry that with you when you graduate. It is your civic duty to pay that gift forward by really listening to the people that you communicate with in the world. Listen with an open mind and an open heart. Hear them and let them know you hear them—even if what they say counters your deepest-held values. You can be the change you want to see in the world when you engage others in dialogue and teach them how to talk about scary, difficult, problems. But you cannot effect change through conversation if you don’t truly listen.” Erin Sindberg Porter ’00

May 8 2017

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