Office of Alumni Engagement

Zoe Lanier

My hometown when I was a student was:

Oak Park, IL

I graduated from Alma in:

2017

I studied:

Psychology and Biology

I currently live in:

Chicago, IL

What is your current career/professional role?

I’m currently completing my 2nd year of law school and serving as a Public Policy Fellow with the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office.

My most vivid/best memory of my time at Alma is:

The people were the most memorable part of my time at Alma. I remember chatting with Nancy from Saga about her pets; being as confused and stressed as any person navigating her early 20s and breaking down in my advisor’s office; and meeting some of my best friends to this day. People cared deeply at Alma.

Statement about how Alma impacted your personal and professional life since graduating.

Ironically, Alma prepared me to thrive in a big city both personally and professionally. Going to such a small, close-knit school taught me the value of community. To me, community means meaningful connections and shared goals with space for differing opinions and viewpoints. My current professional role as a public policy Fellow requires consideration of different interests with the end goal of making Chicago more equitable and efficient for as many people as possible. Personally, finding my community has helped keep me grounded in the years since I moved back to Chicago.

What current service and/or philanthropy activity are you involved in?

I volunteer with Chicago Animal Care and Control along with a couple local rescues, and I try to incorporate animal welfare education wherever I can. During my time at Alma I received two P-Global awards to volunteer at wildlife sanctuaries abroad, and those experiences opened my eyes to how big a role we play in international animal tourism and the exotic animal trade. With the current pandemic and the popularity of Tiger King on Netflix, I think it’s extremely important to understand that our interactions with animals don’t stop once we take or post a picture. Riding elephants, posing with tigers and monkeys, and promoting the exploitation of wildlife for our own gain—whether it’s for likes, a sense of novelty, or for consumption—is harmful. While social isolation and lockdown measures won’t last forever for us, it’s a lifelong reality for millions of animals.

Advice I would give a new graduate:

Slow down, take a breath, and figure out what you want to do. I spent a lot of time feeling like I didn’t have enough time—that I was living through a critical time for my professional and personal goals. It’s easy to feel like you should have “it” (life, career, etc) figured out right now, but I think the focus should be on finding what works for “right now.” Figuring out what’s next is important but don’t forget to find ways to enjoy the day-to-day—even if life is pretty bonkers right now. You can’t press pause on life, but you can find passions and activities that feel meaningful on your way to reaching your goals and figuring out who you are. Honestly, I still don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going, but that’s ok! I’ve consistently found public interest work to be fulfilling, and I’m excited to see where that takes me.

What would you say to a prospective student and their family who was trying to decide if Alma was right for them?

Everyone’s different, but Alma helped me grow academically and personally. While the academic skills I gained certainly contributed to my ability to succeed in law school, the personal growth has been the highlight of it all. Alma gave me the resources to pursue my dreams and the ability to connect with passionate professors and peers that go above and beyond.

How I have given back to Alma since graduation:

As a millennial, I’m sure many can relate to the struggle of not being able to give back financially, but I believe many of us find other ways to give back. Whether its staying connected to peers and mentors, using the skills I gained to give back on a larger scale, or remaining grateful for my educational experience, I hope to give back to Alma in various ways throughout my lifetime.

Contact Info

alumnioffice@alma.edu