Albion College offers a wide range of majors, programs and activities that allow students to prepare for their professional post-collegiate career. Alumni expressed a variety of personal experiences and overarching ideas on college life in general, emphasizing that Albion’s small class sizes and getting a well-rounded education helped them develop skill sets outside of the classroom
Don Strite (‘14), an alum from Ann Arbor, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and management with an emphasis in accounting. He is currently a revenue account manager at Checkr, Inc. His day consists of managing a team of five colleagues, completing invoices, audits, strategic planning and more.
“My network from Albion has helped me excel at Checkr and has given me the skills to stick out from those around me. I wouldn’t be able to work cross-functionally with different teams and talk to executives [without it],” said Strite. “I am comfortable working with just about anyone in any situation from all the exposure of working with our professors, the president on campus and many more things. I was exposed to so much seniority that other people from other campuses don’t get.”
A liberal arts education gave Strite well-rounded skills, such as communication, working with teams and doing an overall good job at his place of work. Strite was also very involved on campus during his college career and worked on the Board of Trustees, where he helped get funding for one of the most recently completed projects: The remodeling of the Dow Center.
Strite’s involvement on campus helped him with time management and communicating effectively with people from multiple fields outside of his own.
“I was a student-athlete. I ran track and field and cross country. I joined the accounting society, along with the workload,” said Strite. “You don’t just work one job in life, so Albion taught me how to multitask.”
This specific challenge has helped him analyze different situations and plan how to spend his money and his time.
Tiffany Newman (‘20), an alum from Ypsilanti graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications. She is now working for Ford Credit helping customers lease or buy cars in the overall customer support sector of Ford. Originally, after getting the job offer in November 2019, Newman was supposed to go to Tennessee to start a new life and career. However, COVID-19 delayed those plans, so she is working remotely from home until further notice.
“[Albion] brought me a lot of opportunities, especially with getting my job,” said Newman. “Being in Gerstacker and being at Albion has helped me prepare for the real world and doing a lot of networking.” Newman’s college career didn’t come without its challenges, some of which presented themselves after Newman transferred from Eastern University to Albion.
“The workload was a lot, especially switching from Eastern University to Albion,” said Newman. “Albion is a lot more work. It can be kind of intense, including the GPA scale being different. I didn’t like that. However, it taught me about the interview process to network within my job.”
Ikpemesi “Pem” Ogundare (‘20), an alum from Westerville, Ohio, graduated from Albion with a degree in vocal performance in the hopes of becoming an opera singer. She is currently doing a graduate program at Bowling Green State University for a master’s in music in vocal performance.
Ogundare has had a different experience with Albion than Strite and Newman. She feels that since graduating, the college has done little for her.
“I tried connecting with alumni. That fell through. I haven’t spoken to any professors from the college since I left, except for a guy who messaged me to ask me about the summer program I did in Austria to ask me how Prague was, and I never even went to Prague,” said Ogundare.
COVID-19 delayed and changed many things for Ogundare’s post-college career.
“Because of COVID, I had several performances scheduled around summer time, and they all got cancelled,” said Ogundare, ”COVID was the reason we didn’t have a graduation ceremony. I’m in school right now, but most of my classes are online. I only have two classes in person, and it’s very strange.”
Ogundare is not alone in the challenges she is facing due to COVID-19, among other events this year. Her challenges are a reality for many students on campus where they are the minority population.
“Being a Black person on campus was a big challenge,” said Ogundare. ”They didn’t make a safe space for us, but they began recruiting a lot of African American kids from Chicago, Detroit and Columbus. We had different issues on campus, like the build the wall issue with the rock and personal relationship issues with the professors in my department, little things like bullying and academic pressure. But you just kind of go through it. I learned a lot about myself and what I will not accept from people around me.”
Despite not seeing all of the benefits of attending Albion yet, Ogundare said that attending Albion wasn’t all bad, and her collegiate years did provide her with some unique experiences.
“I wouldn’t say I didn’t gain anything from Albion,” said Ogundare. “I was the first Albion student to be accepted into the program I went to in Austria, where I sang for six weeks and travel around Austria. I got a chance to be on TV and work with some German agents for opera houses. It was really cool, and it kind of opened my eyes to what I could do as a professional working in opera, and it made me very happy. I was also a student leader on campus, and that was fun. It was cool to meet the people of Albion and work with the NAACP of Albion. It was really cool to interact with that and gain that sense of community. Albion was a lot, both good and bad, and while I have not seen any benefits from it yet I know that I probably will in the future, hopefully. I don’t regret going to Albion, though.”
The article, originally published Sept. 28, 2020, has been corrected Oct. 8, 2020, as follows:
– Ogundare’s major was corrected from “musical theater” to “vocal performance.”
– Ogundare’s master’s program was specified to “music in vocal performance.”
– A final quote was added for clarity.