Q: Thanks for doing this! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to become an Alma College student?
A: Thanks for having me! My name is Calli Ackels and I graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. I double-majored in communication and political science with an emphasis in women’s and gender studies. I am originally from the city of Alma, Mich., and a first-generation college student. Alma offered me the ability to stay close to home while providing opportunities to see the world, which no other school could provide.
Q: Could you tell us more about the travel you did at Alma?
A: I took a Spring Term course with professor Marcus Richter to several locations throughout Germany, learning about the life and legacy of Martin Luther. It was a fascinating experience and I was so grateful to have been a part of it!
- Read more about the travel and cultural exploration that Spring Term at Alma College offers.
Q: Where did life take you after you graduated from Alma?
A: I moved onto Grand Valley State University, where I earned my Master of Education degree in higher education administration, which is a part of GVSU’s college student affairs leadership program. I felt really prepared for the experience of graduate school, because as a communication major at Alma, we did mock interviews before graduation. That practice made me feel poised and ready when it was time for the real thing. As far as my coursework was concerned, I ended up doing really well, which I attribute to the rigors of an Alma education. Everything I learned at Alma seamlessly carried into my graduate program.
Now, I’m working as the associate director of Title IX at Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania, in Williamsport. It is a very niche field, but I enjoy it tremendously. I have wanted to work in the area of Title IX for a long time and I never would have expected to reach my dream job in such a short period of time after graduating from Alma.
Q: You mentioned how Alma prepared you for graduate school. Can you talk a little about how Alma prepared you for the workforce, too?
A: Absolutely. I had some wonderful faculty mentors at Alma; namely, Janie Diels, Bill Gorton and Maya Dora-Laskey. They were the people who helped me in my studies and became friends after I graduated. All of my classes ended up helping me in the job I currently work, because the Alma faculty let me see their courses through an interdisciplinary lens and follow my own interests. For example, my final paper in political science tied very closely with my studies of women’s and gender studies. Beyond the coursework, the faculty I interacted with the most were incredibly kind to me. The kindness they showed prepared me to treat the people I work with now — people who have experienced trauma in the form of sexual harassment and misconduct — with kindness. I really appreciate that.
Q: I am guessing that based on your line of work, you were involved in student activities at Alma College, too. Is that correct?
A: It is! I was in the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority and was vice president of the Panhellenic Council. I was president of the Order of Omega and held a number of jobs on campus, including work at the Recreation Center. I got to know a lot of people, which was wonderful. The strongest friendships that I have in my life are the people that I met at Alma College. Even now that I live in Pennsylvania, a group of my friends and I still make it a point to see each other, at least once a year.