One of my happy tasks each year is to write letters of recommendation for seniors. Some seek employment, others are applying for admission to graduate or professional school and a few are pursuing special opportunities like the Peace Corps. Their professors are in the best position to comment on their academic achievements, so I reflect on their leadership qualities, commitment to service, personal character and future promise.
Often these are student leaders I have grown to know well. It’s such a privilege to watch students mature as they embrace expanding responsibilities, mentor younger students and gain confidence.
These students are multidimensional, with a curated array of experiences designed to achieve their unique goals. The recommendation letters seem to write themselves as I detail the various roles they have played in the life of the campus.
These students commonly have multiple academic interests. They are often Student Senate members, music ensembles officers, athletics team leaders or participants in student activities and organizations. They are experiential learners who have studied abroad, done undergraduate research, completed internships and participated in service-learning. Virtually all did volunteer service.
What makes this curating process possible? Often, it is strong advising and mentoring, either from a single individual or via a series of interactions in which the voices change but the underlying messages stay the same. For a few, the continuing chorus of faculty adviser, coach and administrative leader combines to bring diverse thinking yet coherent understanding to the unfolding conversation of personal and professional life planning. Each student in his or her way combines the impressive resources of this college to curate an experience that presses for more.
Our young alumni test and validate their learning in new academic and professional settings. “Were you prepared?” I ask them. The answer is almost always the same: “Yes!” But the reasons why almost always vary. Paradoxically, Central produces consistent outcomes precisely because each student’s experience is different. Each one’s experience is curated just for them.