Cogan Fellows Share Journeys of Impact and Adaptation

Cogan Fellows Christopher Eiswerth ’08 and Katie Jarman ’16. Photo by Dan Loh.

Cogan Fellows Christopher Eiswerth ’08 and Katie Jarman ’16. Photo by Dan Loh.

English grads discuss career paths and lessons learned as part of Cogan Alumni Fellowship

by Alex Sonfield ’25 

A liberal-arts education often sets the stage for lifelong learning and diverse careers. This point was clearly shown when Christopher Eiswerth '08 and Katie Jarman '16 returned to Dickinson for the Cogan Alumni Fellowship talk on Feb. 26, 2024. They shared their varied journeys with the students, staff, faculty and family in attendance. Their experiences showcased how important it is to welcome change, face obstacles and use one's education in impactful ways. 


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Christopher Eiswerth '08. Photo by Dan Loh.

Eiswerth has had an exciting career path, working in many different organizations and jobs. He taught English in South Korea, then worked with City Year Cleveland and is now at the Department of Justice. From his experiences, he has learned a lot and had three main pieces of advice to share: 

  • Don't ignore tough questions. Facing challenges promotes growth. Eiswerth underscored the importance of confronting difficult questions directly, suggesting that such challenges are development opportunities. 
  • Understand others’ perspectives for more effective communication. He highlighted the necessity of grasping different viewpoints, which is essential for successful communication and building mutual understanding. 
  • Be skeptical, including of your own beliefs, to adapt to changing ideas. Emphasizing the importance of skepticism, Eiswerth urged attendees to question the established norms and their personal convictions to remain adaptable in an ever-changing world. 

Eiswerth's varied career, from teaching overseas to working in law and public service, as well as his studies at Dickinson and Harvard Law School, provided a foundation for his impactful advice. He urged students to question the norm and said that skepticism is a duty. This approach, he explained, fosters a culture of questioning aimed at societal betterment. Eiswerth showed that the diverse skills and knowledge gained through different roles are essential for personal growth and making a positive difference in others' lives. 


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Katie Jarman '16. Photo by Dan Loh.

Jarman's career illustrates how experiences can reshape professional goals. Initially, as a college and career advisor, she aimed to guide students through their educational and career choices. However, witnessing the challenges within the education system compelled her to seek improvements. Her career path was far from typical, enriched by personal experiences such as her family founding a school for students with autism, including her two brothers, in Hershey, Pennsylvania. These experiences and her own learning struggles deepened her commitment to educational reform. 

Working in communities where college was considered unattainable or unnecessary, Jarman felt disconnected. This reinforced her belief in alternative paths to success and the importance of addressing educational inequities. Throughout her career, spanning pre-collegiate education, higher education and educational organizations, Jarman has been dedicated to pioneering better educational practices.  

Holding a bachelor's degree in English and a master's in education policy & management, Jarman is a research associate at Higher Ed Insight, where she uses research and data to empower educators and enhance educational outcomes. Her journey underscores the idea that a fixed "plan" for one's career is less important than the lessons learned and the impact made along the way. Despite an unexpected academic detour—transitioning from the class of 2014 to becoming a part-time student and graduating later—Jarman's experiences have informed her passion for making a meaningful difference in education. 


Eiswerth's and Jarman's stories demonstrate the importance of being open to change. Through Dickinson and their experiences after graduation, they learned not just job skills but also the importance confidence and thinking in new ways. Returning to Dickinson as Cogan Fellows, they showed current students what life after college is really about and reminded them of the value of a liberal-arts education. 

The Cogan Alumni Fellowship is sponsored by the English department. Each spring, the department invites alumni to share their life and work experiences with current students and re-acquaint themselves with programs in the department and at the college. The fellowship is named in honor of Eleanor Cogan, who took more than 30 courses in Dickinson’s English department after her retirement from a career as a research chemist. The fellowship pays tribute to Cogan’s commitment to lifelong learning. 


Published February 27, 2024