Stefanie PohlStefanie Pohl

  • Degree and year: Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing, 2007
  • Current position: Copy Editor/Writer with Communications and Brand Strategy at Michigan State
  • Proudest moment at MSU? My proudest moment(s) were when I had breakthroughs in the classroom, particularly in my poetry and creative non-fiction classes. Writing can be very personal, so criticism of writing can be taken very personally. Having professors like Diane Wakoski and Marcia Aldrich, masters in their genres, helped me gain a thicker skin and better perspective on the craft of writing. I wasn’t the same writer after their mentorship.
  • Advice to current students? My advice would be to take advantage of the academic and career advising at your disposal. Ruth Mowry helped me find my way as an English major and encouraged adding the Creative Writing concentration to my major when she knew I was interested in writing workshops. The “what do I do with my B.A. in English?” question was answered for me with the guidance of Courtney Chapin in Career Services, and without her I would not have had the confidence to pursue an MA after graduation. There are amazing resources specifically for CAL students. Use them!

Kate Sonka 

Kate Sonka 

  • Degree and year: Bachelor's in Spanish with concentrations in Latin American Studies and Anthropology, 2005
  • Current position: Academic Technology Specialist at the College of Arts and Letters of MSU
  • How has a degree in the arts and humanities contributed to your success? My humanities degree provided a foundation upon which I'm able to think flexibly, work collaboratively, and communicate effectively. My degree prepared me for a lifetime of engaging interactions with people all across the world, through both personal and professional travel. I was also primed to think around any issue until the solution becomes clear, or if not clear at least something that will continue to advance the mission of the project. A decade later and I still find myself drawing upon the skills and knowledge my humanities degree gave me.
  • How do you want to make an impact as a Board Member? Going into my sixth year on the Board, and as the new President, my goal is to align our initiatives and activities with the work happening around the College in a way that will continue to engage our alums. I have the honor to be on campus every day, but I never lose sight of the fact that many of our alums are not so physically connected to this place. As such, my legacy will be one wherein CAL alums continue to feel a close bond in equal parts to their own personal MSU past, as well as the future of the College of Arts & Letters.

Tom MitchellTom Mitchell

  • Degree and year: German & International Studies, 1993
  • Current position: President at Messe Duesseldorf North America, which is the U.S. subsidiary of a large German exhibition and trade show organizer
  • Proudest moment at MSU? Had several for sure, but what sticks out was being accepted for the summer semester overseas study program in Mayen, Germany. This was my first time overseas, and my time living and studying in Germany turned out to be critical for the career path I ended up in.
  • Advice to current students? As much as your time and degree program allow, expose yourself to as many different classes and areas of study as possible.  CAL students have the benefit of an amazing, well-rounded education, and the range of what you are able to learn and experience pays massive dividends later in life, no matter what type of work you end up in.

Jill VondrasekJill Vondrasek

  • Degree and year: Studio Art, 1992
  • Current position: Marketing and Communications Director, MSU College of Nursing
  • How has a degree in the arts and humanities contributed to your succes?: A degree in the arts and humanities helped to develop my critical and visual thinking skills. This is the place where passion meets higher education. This is the place that launched my career and where I found like-minded individuals with similar interests. Dean Long recently wrote a piece about the history of the ampersand and I was salivating over the content; the history of this artistic mark and 27th letter of the alphabet. No other group in my circle can relate to why this is fascinating. The College of Arts & Letters is a home away from home.
  • Advice to current students? I learned many lessons during my time as an undergrad. As a first generation college student everything was a challenge. You do not know what you do not know and my support system did not know how to help me navigate through this journey either. My message is for first generation students – you can and you will! Your mettle will be tested, but in the true spirit of a Spartan you have extraordinary ability to overcome any challenge put in front of you.  If it was easy, everyone would do it. That is what makes earning that degree so rewarding.

Kathleen L. Johnston-CalatiKathleen L. Johnston-Calati

  • Degree and year: Humanities, 1969
  • Current position: Program Manager, Michigan Disability Rights Coalition
  • How has a degree in the arts and humanities contributed to your success? My studies in arts and humanities have enriched my life by instilling in me a love for the sake of learning.  I have had a wide variety of careers and my humanities background coupled with the love of learning have made it possible for me to be successful in diverse situations.
  • How do you want to make an impact as a Board Member? As a person who transferred into MSU from a Community College, I would like to make sure all transfer students receive the same orientation into all MSU has to offer as do the incoming freshman.  Had I been aware of all of the opportunities that existed, my experience at MSU would have been even richer.

Terence D. GipsonTerence D. Gipson

  • Degree and year: Global Studies in the Arts & Humanities (Minor: Arts & Cultural Management), 2015
  • Current position: International Community Health Advisor @ Michigan State University (and Master of Public Health Administration Student)
  • How has a degree in the arts and humanities contributed to your success? Being a GSAH major has provided me with a unique cultural and social global perspective, thus yielding for me a strong voice within the international community. My academic training in the program has shaped the context in which I work and view our increasingly globalized society, and for this I could not be more grateful to the amazing faculty, administrators, and staff within the College of Arts & Letters.
  • Advice to current students? Perhaps the best advice I could give to my fellow Spartans is to take risks by pushing yourself beyond your most intuitive and natural auspices. I truly believe that we learn the most about ourselves and others in the most abnormal of circumstances, so don’t be afraid to try something new or to ask questions! We can only grow from each experience we encounter!

Carolyn J. HookCarolyn J. Hook 

  • Degree and year: Art Practice (Education), 1968
  • Current position: Currently retired - Public Librarian for over 34 years, Administrative Librarian for 25. Currently enjoying retirement and working as part time potter.
  • How has a degree in the arts and humanities contributed to your success? My degree in Arts and Humanities has enriched my life and gave me a foundation to obtain a Master’s degree in Library Science.  Art has always been an important part of my life and made me be a better Librarian and a more interesting person.
  • Advice to current students? My advice to current students is to appreciate what you have at Michigan State while you are there. The beautiful campus, friendships that can last a lifetime and the education will change your life.

Rich SternbergRich Sternberg 

  • Degree and year: History, 1965
  • Current position: Retired School Principal
  • How has a degree in the arts and humanities contributed to your success? My degree in the arts and humanities very much contributed to my career, and perhaps more significantly, to my life, in a considerable number of ways. Perhaps best of all with the advantage of an "exploratory curriculum", I had tremendous latitude in the course offerings to which I was exposed, and in which I took full advantage.
  • How do you want to make an impact as a Board Member? I yet believe that our Board membership should undertake the responsibility of communicating, very directly and personally, with all living scholarship recipients, who were graduated from the College of Arts and Letters, from its beginning origin. [Maybe 55-60 years ago.]
    • My strong belief is that anyone who received scholarship moneys [not loans] of at least 25% of his/her tuition, room and board, related fees, etc. should candidly be approached and asked, “If it were not for that scholarship to attend MSU, would you have accomplished what you have, and arrived at your current station in life?" I practically dare anyone to suggest that this is an unfair question.
    • Therefore, those recipients of such scholarship assistance should be asked if it is not unreasonable for each of them to now complete what I refer to as the "360 degree angle" by contributing to the needs of those, who much like themselves, so many years earlier could not secure an MSU education, without the same assistance.

Jill MooreJill Moore

  • Degree and year: Professional Writing, 2006
  • Current position: Software Engineer
  • How has a degree in the arts and humanities contributed to your success? I credit my arts and humanities degree with unlocking my potential. The portable skills I developed as a CAL student have kept me nimble and primed for a career as a writer, editor, designer, experience architect, and now an engineer. 

    • I owe much of this versatility to the innovations of the Professional Writing program. PW fostered my interest in technical communication and prepared me to adapt to evolving technologies. Understanding the influence of writing, design, and usability in the digital space has had the single greatest impact on my career.

    • You won't be defined by an education in the arts and humanities, but rather empowered by the preparation, knowledge, and applicable experience it delivers. Life after CAL is only limited by how big you can dream.​
  • Advice to current students? Go to class. All of them. Study abroad. Explore. Push yourself. Make connections. Make mistakes. Grow from them. Be engaged. Give back. Feel proud to be a Spartan. And most of all, take time to appreciate and reflect on this exciting, transformative experience. Go Green!

Bryce ColquittBryce Colquitt

  • Degree and year: English, 2011
  • Current position: Founder, Colquitt Group
  • How has a degree in the arts and humanities contributed to your success: I've learned great critical thinking skills that have served me well in a few fields -- politics, public relations, and entrepreneurship. It's allowed me to analyze language and history in a way unique among my peers, and to be creative in business and politics.
  • Advice to current students? You'll never have a better time in your life to explore -- take advantage of it. Try new things, get internships, and build relationships.

Brittany ParlingBrittany Parling

  • Degree and year:  English, 2005
  • Current position: Attorney
  • When you think back to your time at MSU, what was your proudest moment? Working full time while carrying a full load of classes.
  • How has a degree in the arts and humanities contributed to your success? As a lawyer, I'm constantly writing, developing arguments, and trying to tell my client's story in a compelling way. My CAL degree allowed me to develop my voice as a writer, as well as my critical thinking skills. I can't think of a better degree to prepare for a career in the law.

John DonohoeJohn Donohoe

  • Degree and year: BFA Graphic Design, 1987
  • Current position: Client and Account Development and Relations
  • How has a degree in the arts and humanities contributed to your success? Along with an understanding of visual problem solving, I learned skills in communication and social intelligence that have served well in times of stress and high pressure.
  • Advice to current students? Make the most of your time at MSU, where you learn how to learn for the rest of your life!

Jennifer AdamsJennifer Adams

  • Degree and year: English, 1992
  • Current position: Coordinator of Library & Learning Support Services, Hagerstown Community College
  • How has a degree in the arts and humanities contributed to your success? My degree in the arts and humanities has contributed to my success in ways that other degrees simply could not. As the only CAL student among my friends at MSU, I was always presumed to be the one who would never land a job in my field or earn enough income to make a living. Of course, these were mainly my business and engineering pals talking. The first response after learning that I was an English major was perpetually, “Oh, so you’re going to be a teacher,” to which I’d immediately retort, “No, I’m going to write.” Usually, a pitying wince would follow. I’m so grateful that my dad had encouraged me since grade school to choose a field that would make me happy, regardless of the financial payoff. This mindset was definitely not the norm in the late ‘80s, and I suspect that hasn’t changed much today. However, my close friends confessed, “You’re so lucky your parents let you do what you want.” Many had no choice, which seemed sad to me. I had acquaintances in traditional go-getter job fields who were envious of my freedom to choose, though concerned about my future. But I stuck with what I was passionate about, and I’m proud to report that I not only landed a job “in my field,” within six month of graduation, but also remained consistently employed in full-time writing positions (with benefits) for the next 13 years, when I decided to pursue a master’s degree. Do not underrate the ability to write well; it is a skill that most employers consider a rarity and a gift. The unique skillsets that we CAL graduates possess help to comprise an extremely valuable employee – one who offers a creative voice that thinks outside the box. I brought these skills with me into my second and current career of academic librarianship. There is no doubt in my mind that my CAL degree provided the foundation the higher-level positions in administration that I have unwittingly landed since then. CAL has indeed been an integral part of the holistic success that I’ve achieved: true personal fulfillment through my career, in addition to the perks of a respectable salary and great colleagues.
  • Advice to current students? You chose this field because you’re different. The world needs more people like us – especially now. The skills you acquire through CAL will make you highly employable if they are infused with some enthusiasm, a healthy level of humility, and a good sense of humor.