Alumni, Undergraduates Mix During Annual Career Event

Alumni, Undergraduates Mix During Annual Career Event

Jenny SantanaDozens of School of Education and Social Policy (SESP) undergraduates explored potential careers and forged connections with alumni during Friday’s annual homecoming lunch in Northwestern University’s Annenberg Hall.

The informal networking event matched like-minded students with professionals in the field. SESP seniors Sloane Middleton and Megan Corey, for example, chatted with Jenny Creek Sant’Anna (pictured above), a sustainability coach and Merrie Gebhardt (BS08), a senior manager at Nielsen.

“I was excited to hear about the programs the students are involved with at SESP,” said Sant’Anna (BS87), vice president of operations at REV, a sustainability consulting firm in the San Francisco Bay area. “The School is still so forward-looking, and SESP is continuing the management tradition that I was exposed to. You can tell these students are going to be leaders.”

Both Sant’Anna and Gebhardt said they took courses in human development and psychological services during their time at SESP that proved valuable when they entered the real world.  “The act of really listening and taking the kind of notes that can be analyzed and translated into active management is a powerful tool,” Sant’Anna said.

Many of the alumni also said they gained critical experience by assuming leadership roles in campus groups and through practicums. 

Gebhardt stressed treating job interviews as a two-way street. “Think about whether the company is right for you,” she said. “How are they interviewing you? Are they grilling you and if so, what does that say about their organization? Is that a company that you want to work for?”

The event was organized by adviser Megan Redfearn (MS12). “The interaction with alumni is designed to help students think about careers — by getting ideas, finding advice and starting to build a network through alumni of SESP,” Redfearn said.

In addition to Sant’Anna and Gebhardt, alumni participants included Jess Joslin (BS06), Lizzy Kreindler (BS08), Nicole Reed (BS15), Nancy Sindelar, Laura Lang (BS96), Michael Alperin (BS11), Meaghen Spencer (BS01), Karen Christaldi Clendenin (BS96) and Frank Marcus (BS56, MA, PhD).

Jess Joslin was involved with College Feminists and Pi Beta Phi while at Northwestern. She was also a SESP peer adviser for two years and still keeps in touch with many of her peer advisees. After graduating in 2006, she completed a Master of Divinity at Harvard University where she worked in residential life. She’s currently a Ph.D. candidate in Higher Education and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan, and her dissertation uses a feminist lens to study religion and the university. After graduating, she plans to pursue a career as a university chaplain. 

Rosalyn Bates studied human development and psychological services. She was involved with campus ministries, gospel choir and was a rape crisis counselor for three years. She is currently a licensed clinical professional counselor at St. Bernard Hospital in Chicago and the staff pastor and director of ministries at the Southside Worship Center.

Jenny Creek Sant'Anna (pronounced Santana), is a sustainability coach and vice president of operations at REV, a sustainability consulting firm. At Northwestern, she was a member of Alpha Chi Omega and studied management and human development and social policy. She has worked in the arts for the Boston Ballet; in technology for a mobile software development company that she co-founded, and currently in sustainability. “I’m passionate about driving sustainability into the business world,” she said.

Lizzy Kreindler is the director of development and communications at Youth Job Center in Evanston. During her time at Northwestern, she studied abroad in Tokyo, an experience that she said “taught me what adventure and solitude really mean.” After graduation in 2008, she worked as a campus organizer at Oberlin College, focusing on issues of hunger and homelessness, student debt, climate change, and more. She has also volunteered on a board for Planned Parenthood and ran the development office at Chiaravalle Montessori School in Evanston.

Michael Alperin, based in the Boston area, is an acquisitions director at Beacon Communities, where he helps finance and develop affordable housing. At SESP, Alperin studied social policy, political science and psychology. Prior to working at Beacon, Alperin taught second grade for Teach for America and completed a joint degree in business and public policy at Harvard and MIT. His passion for improving under-resourced urban communities stems from his time at Northwestern, volunteering through Northwestern Community Development Corps, getting to see less-fortunate communities in Chicago, and understanding the political process through both the classroom and a variety of internships, he said.

Nicole Reed was a human development and psych services major and  gender studies minor who is interested in social justice and supporting underrepresented students. Her practicum at Evanston Township High School helped solidify her desire to be a school counselor. “I also worked in the SESP office, which was the best decision of my NU career because I got to meet new students, interact with current students, and help plan big events, like graduation,” she said. Reed was sorority woman of the year as a senior and is currently in graduate school studying school counseling and community counseling. She also is an intern at a Chicago public school.

Nancy W. Sindelar, the author of the biography Influencing Hemmingway, has spent over 30 years in education as a teacher, administrator, university professor and consultant and has published numerous articles and three books on educational topics. Influencing Hemingway was inspired by her background in teaching, which included teaching English at Hemingway’s alma mater, Oak Park and River Forest High School. There she studied his yearbooks, his high school writing and even met some of his former teachers. At Northwestern, Sindelar was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta and a member of the sailing team.

Laura Lang, a literacy consultant, was involved with many different extracurricular groups at Northwestern, including Teach for America, where she met her inspiration at Evanston’s Nichols Middle School. “The teacher and his students confirmed my decision to pursue a career in education,” she said. After graduation, she worked in the Chicago Public Schools and New Trier High School. Lang earned her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and currently works as a part-time instructional coach in Wisconsin’s department of educational leadership and policy analysis.

Meaghen Spencer, a social policy major, is a district transformation director for Partners in School Innovation a national education reform non-profit that transforms teaching and learning in the lowest-performing public schools.  At Northwestern, Spencer was involved in Habitat for Humanity, the Greek Panhellenic Council, club soccer, the undergraduate leadership program and received the Senior Woman Award for Volunteer Service in 2001. She received her master’s in education at Stanford. Now the mother of four children, she lists finding the right work/life balance as a significant accomplishment. 

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 10/22/16