GVSU alumni discuss life beyond the classroom

GVL / Sheila Babbitt
Moderator, Victoria Stevenson, and panel member, Alexis Rangel, pose for a photo at the Life beyond the classroom event on January 23rd, 2018.

GVL / Sheila Babbitt Moderator, Victoria Stevenson, and panel member, Alexis Rangel, pose for a photo at the Life beyond the classroom event on January 23rd, 2018.

Taylor Crowley

Grand Valley State University’s African-American and Latin@ alumni chapters hosted “Life Beyond the Classroom” on Tuesday, Jan. 23, in the Alumni House, featuring panelists from different backgrounds and discussion on how to be successful in life after college.

Six discussion panelists attended the event, unaware of what questions were going to be asked. Four of the panelists were at the event, and the other two tuned in on video chat from GVSU’s Detroit campus.

The discussion panelists ranged in age and profession yet seemed to have similar views on what made them successful: giving back to the community, networking, and building and maintaining authentic relationships.

The moderator, GVSU alumna Victoria Stevenson, facilitated a series of questions for the panelists and asked about their transition into Allendale as freshmen, their experiences with internships, how those have helped them now and their current work fields.

Stevenson, who now works as a financial services representative for New York Life Insurance Company, told the panelists at the beginning of the discussion to “speak from the heart.” She encouraged stories of real, raw experiences about their time spent at GVSU and their experiences as professionals now.

“We have a variety of topics the panelists will discuss, like networking, skills that can be gained being a student at GVSU and how they have used these skills in the workplace,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson wanted the students who attended to gain a solid understanding of what life would be like after graduation and how they can shape it now. She suggested that they use the university’s facilities, like the Career Center, to get the most out of their GVSU experience.

The panelists were on board with Stevenson, all agreeing that students exercising their access to  these facilities could pay off in the end. Being engaged and staying involved in the community was another point the panelists circled back to.  

“This was really inspiring for me,” said Domonique Stevens, a GVSU student. “Being a junior and starting to think, ‘Whoa, I need to get it together,’ it felt good to hear them say, you know, even if you don’t get it right away, just keep trying and something good will come out of it.”

Stevens was pleased with her experience at the panel and strongly encouraged other students to attend the next events. She was pleased with the diversity but said she wished there had been a panelist who was geared more toward social work so she could have asked questions about the field.

On the other hand, Austin Williams, another GVSU student, was very pleased with the diversity of the panelists and even asked questions during the Q&A forum.

“It was reassuring for me to see people who had different majors from their work field (who) were still able to apply their degree to the work,” Williams said. “I’m confident now that even if I don’t find work in something I am passionate about, I will still be able to be successful somewhere in my life.”