Living and Learning: St. Michael’s College

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(HOST) This week Vermont Public Radio is hearing from graduating college seniors and college presidents about what it’s like to Live and Learn in the Green Mountains. This morning we heard from Marlboro graduate Hannah Wilson, whose studies took her to Sri Lanka in pursuit of a goal to work in international trauma relief. This afternoon, we hear from Saint Michael’s president Marc vanderHeyden about the challenges of preparing students for a global workplace.

(VANDERHEYDEN) As a liberal arts college, Saint Michael’s is very serious about fulfilling its mission to educate young people for life in a contemporary world that is technologically advanced and calls for constant learning and discovery.

Our curriculum emphasizes critical thinking, deliberate inquiry, sound research, good writing and communication skills, and a global perspective in all fields of study. We expect our students to develop quantitative and qualitative skills, not only in areas related to their major, but also in mandatory coursework in the sciences, humanities and foreign languages. The breadth of their studies fosters a keen sense of the global workforce they will enter.

Preparation for successful entry into the job market starts with the Student Resource Center, a major office on campus that is dedicated to career and personal counseling. In the first semester, incoming students begin exploring their future. By the time they are juniors and seniors, students are developing resumes and portfolios with the help of the Resource Center.

The availability of workplace internships has expanded into all fields. Students can take advantage of these opportunities locally throughout the academic year, in different locations across the country or during study abroad. For example, recent students have served as interns for Citigroup in London, the Irish Parliament and the Commercial Service of the American Embassy in Madrid.

Saint Michael’s also places a high value on the role of the academic advisor. A large portion of the faculty’s energies are directed toward counseling students who choose to pursue graduate work, medical school or the study of law.

In addition, our academic departments offer different competitions related to entrepreneurship, a wide variety of student-faculty research and other innovative projects. Faculty and students frequently make joint presentations at academic conferences.

The assistance of alumni panels is critical for our small institution in northern Vermont. They provide juniors and seniors with up-to-date information on jobs in the current marketplace – here as well as in Boston, Hartford or New York. A large network of alumni volunteers is willing to interview our students for openings in their companies and also to train and advise students for such interviews.

Communication with these thousands of alumni is facilitated by the College’s highly developed website. It serves as an electronic bulletin board, where requests for positions and other opportunities are posted so alumni can assist students in their first endeavors.

Saint Michael’s prepares each student to pursue multiple and diverse careers during their lifetime, not just to land that first job. The best tool our graduates possess is mastery of the fine art of continued learning as a lifelong obligation.

At Saint Michael’s College, we believe that good learning leads to good living.

I’m Marc vanderHeyden of Colchester.

Mark vanderHeyden is President of St. Michael’s College.

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