Barbara Pierce Bush presents at GV

GVL/ Rachel Melke
Barbara Pierce Bush spoke at GVSU before spring break.

Rachel Melke

GVL/ Rachel Melke Barbara Pierce Bush spoke at GVSU before spring break.

Rachel Melke

Barbara Pierce Bush made an appearance at Grand Valley State University last week as a guest of the Frederik Meijer Lecture Series, a program sponsored by the Frederik Meijer Foundation when endowing the Honors College.

Before the lecture, given in the Grand River Room of Kirkhof Center where 300 guests had
RVSP’d prior to the event, Bush took time to speak with media outlets before holding an informal Q&A session with students interested in Bush or her nonprofit, Global Health Corps.

Although time was limited, Bush offered a perspective to those receiving a liberal arts education and advice on how to benefit from it most. Here is what she had to say in regards to her own experiences and what she wants students all over to know:

Grand Valley Lanthorn: How does a liberal education impact students’ future careers?

Bush: I studied humanities, which is pretty as liberal arts as it gets, and now I’m working in the health field. I think I just realized in college that I got exposed to so many different things that I was interested in by taking such different classes through liberal arts, and I was pretty lucky that because of that I found a lot of different things I was interested in. I wanted to be an architect and then I ended up in a sociology class and a health class, and now I work in the field of global health. I’m really happy that I figured that out before I became an architect and got to do what I love doing.

GVL: From your experiences, what has made you stand out the most in the business

Bush: I never studied business, and I ended up really getting into global health from traveling a lot and working with other amazing people that were working on trying to solve the big problems in global health. I ended up starting a non-profit with other people. I did not have a business background and it was definitely learning on the spot starting a non-profit and now that I’m managing what is a non-profit, but it is essentially a business as well. So, managing staff, managing, you know, a multi-million dollar budget. I got to learn on the spot, but I also just realized that I could surround myself with people that have a lot more experience than me and try to learn as much as I could from them and get their advice as we started building Global Health Corps.

GVL: Do you think that was more beneficial than sitting in a classroom and learning it that way?

Bush: I think both. I mean, I definitely have really treasured being able to ask other people as much as I can, but you can find that in a classroom or find that in the work world. It’s really up to you to try to learn from anyone around you whether it be a professor, another student or someone that can be your mentor.

GVL: What message do you want to give to students if nothing else? Not just at Grand
Valley but in general.

Bush: All of my career, which isn’t that long, but all of my career I’ve worked in non-profits or work on sort of bigger challenges and thinking about how to solve them, and I know when I was younger I sort of assumed I could work on these issues later when I had more experience in life. The thing is, you can work on them now. There’s no reason to think, “Oh, I’ll do that later because I need to have a career first and have enough experience.” Really you can get more experience by working on challenges on the ground. I was really lucky that I found what I loved to do and did it, and I think most people who are graduating should find what they love to do and follow that rather than feeling the stress of sort of, must find a job, must do something next.
Really find what you love, and if you’re good at it, you’re pretty set.

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