On the afternoon of Oct. 31, a group of eager listeners gathered in the lobby of Founders Hall as Sol Weiner ‘14 stepped up to the podium to give the inaugural presentation in the first-ever Quake Talks: Stories Worth Telling.
Throughout the rest of the day and into Nov. 1, passersby stopped to listen as various Guilford College alumni gave short speeches about their experience at Guilford and beyond.
“The talks help students think outside the box,” said event organizer and Assistant Director for Internships Megan Walters. “They’ll help students articulate what they have to offer because of their practical liberal arts education, and more specifically because of their Guilford College education.”
The Career Development Center is always available to offer advice to students about life after college, but the organizers of Quake Talks feel the talks deliver a stronger punch.
“We’ve all witnessed the particular impact of hearing from a Guilford grad,” said Senior Director of Alumni Relations Karrie Manson. “You can get information about life after college from a lot of places, but there’s something really impactful about hearing from somebody who went here.”
Even the speakers themselves understood how valuable these discussions could be for young liberal arts students.
“These talks provide options as well as real world examples beyond the limits of a narrow field of vision found in a restricted school agenda,” said Tom Risser ‘85 in an email interview. “They also illustrate Guilford success stories in 3-D surround sound without the cost of a movie ticket — sweet.”
The talks themselves covered a wide spectrum of topics and truly showed of the versatility of a Guilford degree.
“I graduated and went right into a pretty great government job,” said Kevin E. Taylor ‘87. “I was 21 — I had a job you’re supposed to get at 35.”
Many of the talks resonated particularly well with current students, connecting them with successful role models and resources.
“The Quake Talks event is vital for me as a student and for the school,” said first-year Ben Levin. “In this day and age, networking is important for everyone, and that’s why this is a great opportunity to network and share ideas.”
Some students found the knowledge of their elder Guilfordians applicable to their immediate Guilford life.
“My FYE adviser recommended I come see (Weiner) since he was in the same program I am now,” said first-year Sommer Fanney. “I knew generally what (Weiner) would be talking about, and I was delighted to hear about his focus on eco-racism.”
The alumni shared a myriad of valuable advice about the future. Though they came from different careers and fields, many speakers stressed the value of lessons learned at Guilford both inside and outside of the classroom.
“Take it all in,” said Taylor moments after his stirring presentation. “Find your own hiding place, your own strolling place. Anyone at Guilford should be mindful enough to really take in the value of Guilford.”
A common theme amongst alumni speakers was to encourage students to expect the unexpected.
“Life is always going to change,” said Harlem Writer’s Guild member Minnette Coleman. “But, you are in charge of your own happiness. If you create your own destiny and play by your own rules, you’ll be able to enjoy all life has to offer.”
Though the Quake Talk series itself is over until next time, buzz is already growing for the future.
“We’re already getting people asking us when they can come the next time,” said Manson. “We want this to be a sustainable, ongoing series.”
Until then, students can hold on to the advice given by the alumni and even seek out more by visiting the Career Development Center.