“25,000 mornings – give or take – is all we humans get.” I heard that a few years back. It kind of shook me. 25,000 is not that big a number. I’ve already seen 9,000 of mine. When they’re over, you don’t get those mornings back. In part, it was that realization that inspired me to leave my stable job as a consultant in Boston in order to explore the unknown.
In his address at last year’s graduation, speaker Jay Mehta told his class, “I’m hopeful for life after graduation because I don’t think I’ll ever cease finding energy to create, learn, and make better when I see you, my family, doing what you do.”
The Williams family broadened my own undergraduate worldview—convincing me that even though I was 22 and lacked any formal job training, I could be anything I wanted. When it came time to leave the Purple Bubble, however, I began to wonder what my “anything” might be and whether my “anything” would be able to support rent payments.
Most Williams students find themselves asking similar questions. We know that Ephs lead major companies, walk the halls of Congress, lead international nonprofits, are renowned professors, doctors, lawyers, artists, and nonprofit leaders. But how did they get there?
Having invested deeply in our undergraduate educations, Williams is deeply interested in helping each of us find paths to navigate the world in light of the best impact we might have on it. In 2010, the college sent Hallie Davis ’07 out on the road to ask alumni to share with students and fellow Ephs a wide range of available career trajectories that help us all better understand the power of a liberal arts education and the Williams career network. Hallie brought this website back from her journey.
Now, starting in the summer of 2014, I’m picking up where Hallie left off, interviewing alumni around the country to highlight the various roads, many less traveled, they’ve taken since graduation. Through a series of interviews and multimedia, I hope to use their example to illustrate the range of options available to Williams graduates. The collection will include highly visible Ephs as well as entrepreneurs, travelling musicians, actors, teachers, nonprofit founders, youth sports coaches, and community activists—in big cities small towns, and everywhere in between.
I hope these stories of Williams alums “doing what they do” will inspire us all—particularly todays undergrads—to match our passion with commitment and great work for years to come.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was asked to describe me in one word. After a minute of contemplation, she said: “dreamer.” I could not have picked a better descriptor for who I am and what I hope to be. I believe in people. I believe in the power of the human spirit to help and to heal, to nurture and to love, to imagine the world as a better place and then go and make it that way.
I am twenty-four-years-old and am determined to hold on to a youthful idealism that tells me that individual people who are excited about an idea can have a big impact. That idealism draws me to those who are passionate about their work – to people who have succeeded in transferring their interests into real-life employment. Their energy and resilience makes the world a better place.
Over the next few months, I will be travelling across the country in search of those people. This blog is a place for their stories – a place to celebrate the hard work of good people who too often go unnoticed. Along the way, I hope that their stories will help expose young people to careers and new ways of thinking about success in the “real world.”
I welcome any feedback and would love to hear suggestions for people I should speak with. I hope you enjoy the journey!
– Nick Fogel, September 2014