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Three stories: How engaged learning helps power post-grad success

Students gather to learn about a peer's engaged learning experience at Furman Engaged in 2019.

Engaged learning opportunities – from internships to study away to research, and many other experiences – play a powerful role in helping Furman students identify their strengths, explore their interests and pursue a life of impact.

On April 12, students will share hundreds of those immersive experiences with the community during the 14th annual Furman Engaged, a daylong celebration taking place across campus. The event will highlight the work of more than 700 students and include about 80 panel sessions, 200 research posters and 100 internships in the Gallery Walk. The experiences include undergraduate research, internships, study away, creative projects, service learning, first-year writing seminars and capstone experiences. View a full listing of presentations.

“The Furman Advantage promises all students a transformative education by integrating all of the key elements of a student’s college experience, including curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular experiences,” said Beth Pontari, associate provost for engaged learning and a professor of psychology. “Students are mentored through their four-year pathway, which helps them be intentional about the experiences they pursue, including not only what experiences they have but when they have them, thereby preparing them for life after Furman.”

For these three recent graduates, life after Furman is marked by purpose and discovery as they pursue meaningful paths informed by their engaged learning experiences:

Jordan Harris ’20

At Furman Engaged in 2020, Harris shared the value of his internship with United Ministries, a nonprofit that works with community members affected by poverty. He learned about the many ways access to opportunity and our connection to each other can direct the trajectory of individual’s life.

Jordan Harris ’20

The latest:
“I am working in Greenville as an associate planner with the Planning & Zoning Division at the city of Greenville, South Carolina. I am continuing to learn about the profession and land-use planning specifically. I’ve learned that land-use planning can be the string that ties sustainable growth together with community preservation, if done with the appropriate intentions. Our job is to make good situations great and to not make bad situations even worse (through land use projects, zoning reviews, field inspections etc). Ultimately, we serve the community, and it’s imperative that our goals align with the collective interest of the community – which is much easier said than done.”

What have you learned?
“My goal for right now is to grow in my role as a planner. I plan on going back to school for my masters in the near future.”

Rachel Perkins ’21

In 2021, Perkins and her fraternal twin, Hannah Perkins ’21, helped to create a proposal for a course syllabus, “May Experience: Health and Medicine in the Global Context,”  based on their pre-med work overseas.

Rachel Perkins ’21

The latest:
“I am currently wrapping up the first semester of my Global Health master’s program at Georgetown University. In addition to classes, I have the opportunity to work as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Georgetown Center for Global Health Science & Security, where I am aligned to their COVID Analysis and Mapping Project. The COVID-AMP project is an ongoing effort that aims to provide a comprehensive database of policies implemented globally in response to COVID-19, with the goal of better informing future responses to pandemics or other public health emergencies.”

What have you learned?
“In a short time I have gained so much practical knowledge and experience related to global health governance. I am excited to continue taking advantage of opportunities to work alongside various leaders in the global health sector while I develop and refine my own interests as a graduate student.”

Maddie De Pree ’20

In 2019, De Pree presented on her experience conducting research at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.

Maddie De Pree ’20

The latest: “I’ll be attending the creative writing MFA at Hollins University, which is a fully-funded multi-genre program in Roanoke, Virginia. (But for now) I’m working as a receptionist for BuchananPropane in Traveler’s Rest, South Carolina. I’ve worked a lot of different gigs since graduating from Furman, including being a line cook, working in marketing/social media, and being an editorial assistant with Community Journals. I still do freelance editing and writing on the side.”

What have you learned?
“One thing I’ve learned in my current role: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself post-graduation to land the perfect career, especially during COVID-19. Having worked other positions that were more ‘in my field,’ I have to say that I’m happiest at my current job working at a down-to-earth small business. The glamour of publishing and marketing is great, but it can really be tough to keep pace with as a new graduate – at least it was for me. Being humble and being willing to mop the floors as they say, whether figuratively or literally, has been a huge part of my learning and growth following the time I spent at Furman.”

 

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