by Kandace Kohr
Since the inception of the Presidential Discovery Initiative last summer, the college has collected a large amount of insight from alumni regarding their hopes for the future and to better understand how the Dickinson experience has shaped graduates’ lives. Alumni are interviewed one-on-one by a select group of current students known as Presidential Fellows.
Last year, the fellows conducted 850 interviews, and this year, their goal was to reach 1,000. Even with COVID-19 throwing a huge wrench into the cogs, the fellows were not phased, having transitioned seamlessly to virtual interviews and surpassing their goal to make this the most successful year of the program to date.
“The original iteration of the program was meant to accommodate one-on-one meetings in person. However, due to the pandemic, we had our students conduct interviews over the phone and on Zoom," said Director of Prospect Management & Research at Dickinson Nicole Simmons. "This allowed more flexibility as students were able to interview alums out of their immediate geographic region—a perk they all really enjoyed."
For Krystal Ramirez ’21 (Africana studies) and Liam Pauli ’21 (biochemistry & molecular biology, German), this is their second year interviewing alumni as Presidential Fellows. Although this year was drastically different from last in terms of logistics and planning, the fellows were able to amass quite a collection of insights from alums to help shape the college’s future.
“It was surprising to hear how dedicated our alumni are to lifelong learning! Whether it has been through advanced degrees, reading, traveling or attending Dickinson’s virtual webinars, it seems that learning never stops beyond the limestone walls for our community of alums,” said Pauli.
“If anything, being in the pandemic really helped me to focus on my work even more. Last year, for the first summer of the Presidential Fellowship, I didn’t get to interview as many alumni as I’d liked, but this summer, I hit well over 100 interviews!” said Ramirez. “I really do love this job and I’m glad that [Dickinson] has created it. It also makes me look forward to getting interviewed when I’ve graduated!”
Published November 6, 2020