Dear Class of 2013:

As you leave, words of wisdom from alums

“It’s tempting to put a laser beam of focus on a particular career direction. After all, it’s a competitive job market out there. But my advice is—in the beginning—to find a job that feels like a good fit for your talents, and let your path be open to opportunities as you move through life. A natural writer (and polished by my Wheaton education), I went from being an ad writer for a real estate company to public service director at a radio station to event planner for Seattle Center to marketing director of financial institutions to real estate professional to (hired at age 64!) flight attendant. Sometimes circumstances make you feel like you are stalled or losing ground. Don’t worry about it; stay tuned to what gives you joy and the work will follow.”

—Tani Clinchard Erickson ’65 

“As far as the job search goes, take a deep breath and relax; don’t panic. The majority of the young alums I know are happily employed at jobs they love, but it took time. You will find something great, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to find something immediately.”

—Chloe LeVine ’11

“My mom’s advice to me has held me in good stead: You can have it all; you just can’t have it all at once. This advice reminds me to take the long view of life. Instead of going through my twenties and early thirties thinking I had to be everything at once, I gave myself the space to enjoy each stage.”

—Elisabeth Stitt ’88

“Cherish the chaos in you. According to Nietzsche, ‘One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.’ If you have a tidy and orderly mind that doesn’t allow creative thoughts to intrude, you’ve lost a lot of the joy in life. Leave yourself open to wild and chaotic ideas that rev up your creative spirit and give birth to your dancing star. Put ‘be happy’ at the top of your to-do list. I used to beat myself up every day because I wasn’t meeting my own expectations about what I should be doing. Then one day it hit me. There’s really only one thing that matters. Each day should be a joy.”

—Mary Kennard McHugh ’50

“Know what you are good at, build on your special talents. Experience new adventures to expand your learning and growing into the person you want to be. Keep your aspirations high and determination strong. When roadblocks to your dream career get in the way, be flexible. Never underestimate the network of friends and people resources. Remember that you are unique. There is a place for your God-given talents in this world.”

— Elizabeth Adams Noyes ’40

“I believe in getting an education for a profession that might be of interest. And then be realistic about the possibilities in that profession and do not be afraid to realize your true potential—whether it be higher or lower than you had expected.”

—Lucile Roesler Bollman ’54

“Read Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. It is an important study of the reflective, humble individuals who make up at least one-third of the general population. Her research suggests that the ‘extrovert ideal’ often seen in American culture—outgoing, talkative—doesn’t do so well without the steadying influence of the ‘quiet people.’ It is these quiet individuals who are hard at work bringing their rich inner landscapes and brilliant creative constructs into the reality of the world. It takes all kinds.”

—Jane Protzman ’59