Amy Vandervelde ’21

Event postcardWe here at The Words would like to thank all of the English department alums, faculty, and students who were able to join us for a wonderful evening on Tuesday, March 3 for the sixth annual Apps & Alums event. The experience was especially rewarding, as English Honor Society (EHS) Officers, Julia Joy ’20, Eric Fong ’21, Nora Stewart ’21, and myself have been planning this event since November.

Last fall, the four of us met up in the department lounge to discuss all of the pieces that form the event. We split up the tasks, but then we realized that Nora and Eric would be going off on their study abroad adventures for this spring semester (miss you guys!). Julia and I then started meeting almost every week when we got back this January to divvy up more tasks and communicate with the EHS members. Julia took the role of emailing all the members and English department faculty, and working on set up with Jan. Meanwhile, I worked on communicating with Neely Heubach from Alumni Engagement and Kate Larson from Career Exploration and made the postcard and poster designs for the event.

Event poster

Having helped plan and execute the Kofi Annan Institute for Global Citizenship’s International Roundtable event for the past three years, it’s been a really neat experience for me to work side by side with Julia planning an event for the English Department. There are quite a few pieces to planning any event, but Julia and I learned quickly that splitting up the tasks evenly and keeping good communication was what really mattered most. 

When I found out that I was going to write about my experience planning Apps & Alums this year, I realized that I also really wanted to hear about what the event is like from the alums’ perspective. In anticipation of the event, I reached out to Visiting Assistant Professor Zoë Rodine ’13:

What has the alum experience been like for you during the Apps & Alums event in the past?

Professor Rodine said that the event is “really rewarding and really exciting to see so many students with so many talents,” she finds that there are always students “exploring different opportunities,” and that she thinks attending the event is “always a real joy.”

Do you think your experience will be different this year with your role as a visiting faculty member?

Professor Rodine talked about how her experience this year would “certainly be different,” but she was “unsure how it’ll be different.” She mentioned that she’ll come into the event “knowing a couple faces already” and having “insight into students lives.”

I also reached out to Visiting Assistant Professor Ben Voigt ’10 to ask him two very similar questions:

What has the alum experience been like for you during the Apps & Alums event in the past (specifically last year)?

Professor Voigt said he “really enjoy[s] going to Apps and Alums” and “it’s neat to see where other folks from similar backgrounds have ended up.” He also acknowledged that “as much as [he] like[s] talking about sonnets (spoiler alert: it’s a lot), classrooms don’t always leave space for these types of conversations about vocation–about the professional world, building a life you like, not knowing what you’ll like, etc.” and that he “thinks it’s fun to connect in this different way–to be thinking together ‘practically,'” which he takes to include “both making a salary and making time for your novel-in-progress or your obsession with 19th century material culture.”

Do you think your experience will be different this year with your new role as AIA (in comparison to last year)?

Professor Voigt said he definitely will be bringing a different perspective into the event this year. “In years past, I often talked with folks about grad school, and the outlook for being a teacher or a writer,” Voigt explained, “Now I feel like I can speak to lots of other things folks may be thinking about: less linear career paths, life as staff in academia, balancing working and writing, the value of critical and creative thinking in the tech space–even the working world’s abiding love of Google Calendar.”

Julia and I meeting in the English Department

Thank you, Professors Rodine and Voigt for taking the time to answer these questions and for your continued engagement with the Apps & Alums event!

The Apps & Alums event turnout this year was amazing! And I can’t wait until next year! It’s a long process of planning within the English department and collaborating with other offices on campus. I’d especially like to thank Neely Heubach from Alumni Engagement and Kate Larson from Career Exploration for their continued assistance in funding the Apps & Alums event. Also, a huge shoutout to the English department’s own Jan Beebe for all of her wonderful expertise and advice. And to Nora and Eric, I hope that you’re as excited as I am for what the next year of EHS brings!