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MALS: It Was Meant to Be

Mimi Wright

Mimi Wright

Associate Director of Alumni Relations at SLC

By Mimi Wright, M.A. '10G

Writing has always captured my heart. When I was a senior in high school I submitted an application to Sarah Lawrence College, a tiny writing intensive liberal arts school that was tucked far away in the rocky hillsides of Bronxville, New York, about a twenty minute drive north of Manhattan. I included an essay I had written for Mrs. Palmer's AP English class on Tim O'Brien's novel, “The Things They Carried.” I will never forget opening that thick envelope and reading the comment that was scrawled in blue ink across the bottom of my acceptance letter, "Your essay made me want to reread this book!" It was a surreal experience; surreal primarily because my destiny led me elsewhere for many, many years. After a few twists and transfers, I enrolled at Nazareth College in earnest and completed my bachelor's degree in English Literature. Although I did not realize it at the time, I later discovered that sometimes the world decides to conspire in your favor.

I remember first hearing about the MALS program as a Naz undergraduate student. I thought to myself "Now that sounds like a graduate program I would absolutely love!" It was reading and writing intensive with a variety of engaging topics to choose from. Plus, you had complete creative control over your final thesis - perfect for someone like me who loves writing - creative writing best of all. Little did I know after graduation I would find myself working in Houston, Texas for a luxury tour operator for a few years. In 2007 the conniving world plotted my return to Nazareth College and I began to work full-time at my alma mater for the alumni relations office. This fortuitously allowed me to initiate my pursuit of the long-coveted master's degree in liberal studies.

My graduate education at Nazareth prepared me to think critically and broadly, an essential tool one must rely on when wading through the sometimes murky waters of higher education. Apart from the three required courses (Being Human, Knowledge and Culture, and Values and Action) I had classes in fields outside of my comfort zone with economics, biology, and psychology professors. Science? Math? I was an English major, remember. Although nervous at first, the individual and flexible design of the program coupled with the availability and academic support of the faculty members guided me confidently into the material, challenging me to come out on the other side with a greater depth of understanding as each course related to the other. The interdisciplinary approach of the MALS program temporarily relieves the yearning for knowledge that so many curious students possess - a thirst for learning that can never truly be quenched.

My initial course, Being Human, required a final project which I was able to parlay into a creative short story. For one elective, The Mind in Context, rather than write a final research paper, Dr. Diane Enerson gave me the liberty to write a play that incorporated many of the themes and ideas from the course. Ron Netsky’s New Journalism course provided me with the opportunity to write several nonfiction articles on a variety of subjects including roller derby in Texas, a theatrical rendition of Peter Pan, and an old fashioned hoedown heard at a general store in Gold Hill, North Carolina. I was even able to repurpose one of the profile articles I wrote in that class for an article in Nazareth’s alumni magazine bridging my graduate studies work to my professional work.

The culmination of my degree - the capstone - focused on writing and social media, an unavoidable phenomenon in today's hyper-connected marketplace. Through my research, interviews, surveys, and the creation of a blog I was steeped in the technological frenzy of MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. I am confident that my working knowledge of these various platforms directly contributed to securing my current position in higher education as they are part of the vital link that connects alumni with each other and their college.

Now, when I am asked the inevitable question in any social setting, "So, what do you do for work?" I have the rare pleasure of answering differently every time. We live in a culture where our jobs define us. Our workaholic attitudes imply all kinds of things about who we are as humans, the choices that led us to that particular field, our values and our passion. I am continually inspired by the amount of learning that surrounds me. I correspond with human geneticists, poets, dancers, lawyers, teachers, parents, politicians, artists, entrepreneurs, filmmakers, chefs, jewelry makers and more. The people I interact with on and off the college campus are similar to the cast of characters one might find in a MALS classroom. There are folks from every walk of life sitting together, opening their minds and hearts to the world around them. As a professional in higher education, my work in alumni relations requires the ability to connect with a variety of people and craft well-composed stories on a daily basis.

Last year the world conspired once more and I relocated to Long Island after completing my master’s degree - without a job but very much in love. The decision to move worked in my favor as now I am an administrator at a writing intensive liberal arts school tucked about six hours away from Rochester, New York. You might have heard of it before - it's called Sarah Lawrence College.


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