More than a dozen Colgate alumni made the trip to Hamilton this October for the first-ever Be the Change: Careers for the Common Good Symposium, sponsored by the Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (COVE) and the Common Good Professional Network. The symposium focused on building alumni-student relationships and advancing careers in the common good sector, which includes nonprofits, education, government, and other enterprises for social good.

“Having the chance to have dinner and great discussions with students was wonderful,” said Susan Retik-Ger ’90, co-founder of Beyond the 11th. “I was delighted with how engaged and thoughtful the students were.”

More than 60 students were joined by 14 alumni for the symposium’s Friday-night kickoff, which opened with student poster presentations on topics such as SAT prep for local high school students, area SOMAC ambulance service, and Upstate Institute Summer Fellow research. Then, Jonah Shacknai ’78 spoke about the importance of giving back, encouraging people to volunteer their time or money to nonprofits.

“Jonah emphasized the random paths our lives can take and the importance of continuing to give back as we are able, whether through time or money, because the impact of giving is widespread,” said Krista Saleet, co-organizer and COVE director.

Following dinner and Shacknai’s remarks, an alumni panel — featuring Steve Bosak ’90, Janet Daisley ’80, P’17, Bob Dorf ’80, Molly Emmett ’12, Susan Hughes-Smith ’93, Amy James ’83, Betsy Levine Brown ’01, Thomas Levine ’71, P’01, Amelia Massoud-Tastor ’13, Jordan Press ’00, Elizabeth Stein ’12, Retik-Ger, and Shacknai — shared experiences from careers within the common good, and answered students’ questions about positive and challenging aspects of their careers.

“They highlighted the fact that all organizations, whether private or public sector, need similar skill sets. No matter what your skill focus becomes, those skills can be applied to the common good,” said co-organizer Jillian Arnault ’10, assistant director of professional networks.

Saturday morning, students were split up into smaller breakout groups and asked alumni about how their current studies and activities at Colgate could be used to pursue a career in the future, and about how they could prepare for their careers.

For Jared Goldsmith ’16, the breakout discussions were the best part of the weekend. “I got to speak one-on-one with a couple of recent alumni who work at schools and education nonprofits in Boston, which really interests me,” he said. “It was awesome to talk to people who are passionate and have been successful in the education field even though they only graduated a year or two before I came to Colgate.”

Arnault and Saleet said they hope the event showed students the range of opportunities within the common good — and that it becomes an annual event. “This is a broad sector with limitless possibilities,” said Arnault.

“The symposium definitely showed me that the alumni network at Colgate is broader and covers a wider variety of fields than I realized during my first couple years here,” Goldsmith said.

“I hope the students who attended the panel are inspired to work in the nonprofit world and that they recognize that there are so many different ways to go about doing so,” Retik said.

Related Links
Common Good Professional Network
Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education
Colgate launches professional network for alumni working toward the common good
Professional Networks