Reunion 2019: SESP Alumni Connect With Undergrads

Reunion 2019: SESP Alumni Connect With Undergrads

Edie BosticEdith (Edie) Howard Bostic (BS74) speaks with undergraduate students during Reunion 2019.

More than two dozen alumni returned home to the School of Education and Social Policy for Reunion 2019, where they talked with undergraduates about everything from networking and travel to lifelong learning.

“This is what SESP is about – we’re a community of connectors,” Dean David Figlio told the group. “We’re trying to make the world a better place, one person, one organization, one policy at a time.”

The SESP alumni lunch event was part of a three-day schedule of Reunion Weekend activities that include tours, a tailgate, football game, career seminars, and class parties.

Read a few of the tips SESP alumni passed along:

On life-long learning:

"You’re either growing or becoming stagnant, so whatever opportunity you have to learn, take full advantage of it. Even if it’s just reading a new book or listening to a podcast, you are learning and growing. I am a big believer in seeking out personal development. When you grow, you only become better. Don't settle for status quo."  -- Lynette Calucin Connell (BS89, Human Development and Social Policy, Organizational Studies) a pediatrician with NorthShore University Health System.

“Go to Eventbrite and scan the list of upcoming seminars.” – Sofia Romeo, guest and current undergraduate student in the School of Professional Studies. Romeo recently found a social policy-related that wanted to attend, but it was at the same time as class. Her instructor decided to make it a class trip.

“Have an open mind about continuing education. SESP taught me how to learn. I transferred in and wasn’t in love with learning until I got here.” -- Blake Kolesa (BS18, Social Policy) is a second-year law degree candidate at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and a teaching assistant.

"Get curious. Leading with questions helps keep you open and learning (and other people love to answer them)!"-- Zoe Goodman (BS13, Social Policy) a consultant for LifeLabs Learning, which does leadership and management training for more than 600 companies around the world, including Hinge, Twitter, and The New York Times.
On networking:

Read The Proximity Principle by Ken Coleman and Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Dave Evans and Bill Burnett, an engineer's 'thinking' approach to creating the life and work best suited for you. -- Ellen Blanchfield Befort (BS89, Human Development and Social Policy, Organizational Studies), an education consultant who works with gifted high school students who have special learning needs

“Make sure your friends know what you like to do. They will tell their parents and your network will expand.”—Julie Romeo, (MS89) is the creator of The Fairy Tale Trials, an award-winning educational theater project and curriculum that she has developed and taught over the past three decades at Northwestern, the Northeast tri-state area, and abroad.

On knowing when to leave a job:

“There’s a rule in theater – always leave them wanting more. Leave when you’re wanting more and they’re wanting more.” – Julie Romeo.

On taking the bull by the horns:

“Rather than looking for a job, I decided what I wanted to do and sold it to a non-profit. It allowed me to do exactly what I wanted. Don’t feel like you have to sit and wait for a job to appear. Create it yourself.” -- SheilaShelia Merry Merry (BS77, Human Development and Social Policy), executive director of Evanston Cradle to Career, a collective impact initiative focused on addressing racial inequity for children and youth in Evanston.

On the secret to job hunting:

“Take advantage of the rich social capital that Northwestern and the Chicagoland area has to offer.  NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!!!” -- EL Da' Sheon Nix, (BS04, Human Development and Psychological Services HDPS), community relations director for Tutoring Chicago.

On attending graduate school:

“Take the time to do quality research on program options and resist the temptation to place too much emphasis on word of mouth or rankings when looking at graduate schools.” -- Don Martin (PhD95, Education Administration), author of Road Map for Graduate Study: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students who coaches grad school applicants worldwide with a 97 percent acceptance rate.

Just generally great advice: 

"Ask questions, go to office hours get to know your professors, get engaged with classroom your community locally and beyond."--  Darrin Thornton (BS89, Human Development and Social Policy, Organizational Behavior), assistant director of the Penn State School of Music and associate professor of music education.

Have a tip to pass along? Or want an invitation to next year’s alumni lunch? Email SESP Communications Director Julie Deardorff at



By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 11/6/19