Mar. 29, 2017

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Kalamazoo, MI

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Est. 1877

Alumni Update

Catching Up with Kasey Cook

By

Q: What have you been up to since graduating from K?

A: I’m the Post Baccalaureate fellow for the Center for Civic Engagement, which is a fancy way of saying I graduated and I work here now. I spend most of my time working with our Civic Engagement Scholars by supporting them in their work with community partners, in their planning and facilitating of trainings and reflections for K students, and just the day to day running of their programs. The other part of my job involves a lot of logistical tasks like event planning, recruiting, data work, etc. It’s a nice mix of office and relationship-based work. So much of my job is based on learning and collaboration that I feel like I’m still a student in a lot of ways. It is exciting and rewarding to work with so many different people and programs.

Q: What experiences during your time at K do you think prepared you for this job?

A: For me, Civic Engagement was the focal point of my K experience. It really gave me a sense of purpose and it prepared me both professionally and personally in terms of helping me to understand how I wanted to relate to the communities in which I live and interact. That’s really why I’m still here. Plus the jobs I had on campus allowed me to experience a lot of different roles and gain office and administrative skills, whether I was working in the Library or in the Advancement Office. Studying abroad in Chile was also great preparation. It was a huge contributor to the expansion of my understanding of the world and people and systems.

Q: Can you explain a bit more about the CCE?

A: The CCE works with K students and Kalamazoo community members in a variety of different ways around social justice initiatives. We strive to foster reciprocal relationships and emphasize that we are not doing community service or charity work. Students are able to learn from community partners through actively participating in their organizations which is an amazing opportunity.  We have 13 on-going programs this year, which are coordinated by our student leaders, the Civic Engagement Scholars. In partnership with faculty, we also help to coordinate civic engagement courses that give students the opportunity to learn about topics such as black infant mortality, local food systems, and developmental psychology, from hands on experience and from learning about the lived experiences of community members. In the summer, we offer Community Building Internships with local organizations like the Peace House, Freedom Schools, The People’s Food Co-op, and more! There are so many ways for students to get involved and about 77% of K students work with us in some way during their four years here, which is pretty cool.

Q: What advice do you have for students who are graduating in June?

Looking back on my senior spring, I wish I had lived more in the present. We were all pretty stressed and anxious to figure out our futures. It’s important to plan ahead, but it is also important to get the most out of your last quarter here. Something that comes with graduating is discovering the space and time to think about these things. I ended my time at K in kind of a stressful place, because I was trying to reduce my accomplishments down to something that was tangible. There were so many deadlines: SIPs, papers, events, etc. that I left without being mindful and appreciative all of the many experiences I had during my four years here. It’s the whole package– every experience at K: from the hard skills  gained in classes like time management and critical thinking to the personal skills you get when you learn from lived experience and from all of the people you come across. We need all of those things to be successful in any job– and not just success in the traditional sense of receiving a salary and promotions, but so that you’re always finding ways to continue growing in all aspects of your life.

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