by Lukas Swarts
Natalie Redmond is a 2016 graduate of Rochester College. During her time at RC, Redmond was heavily involved on campus and served as editor-in-chief for Shield Media. Below, she shares her thoughts on post-college life, reflects on her time at RC and offers advice to current students.
What did you major in?
“I double majored in English and Theatre.”
Tell us about your experience with Shield.
“I joined Shield the second semester of my freshman year. I'd written an opinion article that the editors thought was funny, and they offered me an editing role from it. (Small staff mean big promotions!) The next year, I worked as the copy editor, honing what has become a lifelong love of commas. I spent my junior and senior year of Shield as editor-in-chief, which entailed writing articles, editing the magazine, getting hype for storyboard, and occasionally starring in perfume commercials, doing my best DJ Khaled impersonation and rolling in piles of fake money. It's a glamorous life.”
What is your current job?
“I currently live in Vermont and work as a writer for the communications department at Bennington College. The funny part is, my work now is almost exactly like my work on the Shield! One of my biggest responsibilities in this position is conducting interviews with and writing articles about students, faculty and alumni. My time on Shield not only gave me a portfolio of articles (some of which I did reference when applying for my current position), but it also gave me a journalistic mindset, which helps me see how individual stories contribute to and reflect broader institutional goals.”
How has RC helped prepare you for your current job?
“In addition to the academics, which are, y'know, a big part of college, RC gave me a safe community in which to try new things, which is perhaps the most important gift a school can give you. While I was at RC, I ended up trying out everything from a capella chorus to Blackberry Winter to Shield to Sigma Phi. Some of these activities pointed me to newfound interests, but even the activities I didn't like still gave me opportunities and stories and developed my sense of self. When you move to a new state or pursue a new job, you have to have enough bravery to advocate for yourself, get involved and also to accept that you may or may not ultimately like the experience, but you'll grow from it either way. RC was a supportive environment that bred that fearlessness.”
What are your future goals?
“Vermont is a small environment (another thing RC prepared me to face!), and some of my future goals are to deepen my sense of community there. By and large, southern Vermont, where I live, doesn't have a robust young adult community, but I'm interested in building one. I've been working with local libraries to establish social programming for the young adult crowd, and I also joined the advisory board of my local Young Professionals organization. Moving to a new place is one thing; making that place feel like home is quite another, so that's my focus right now.”
Have you visited RC since you graduated?
“A few times! My family and most of my friends are in Michigan, so I like to stop by whenever I'm in town. It's nice to see the improvements that have been made to campus. (I'm jealous, but it's still nice!) I also enjoy visiting with professors and going to Kibo Corner whenever possible. No coffee is better!”
Looking back, would you do anything different?
“My one regret is that I spent most of my senior year as an anxious ball of nerves. Should I stay in Michigan or try a new place? What do I want to do? Should I go to grad school? Am I even employable, or should I cut my losses and become a stripper?
I liked much of my college experience, but senior year gets REAL. Not only is it daunting to think about that next transition into the ‘real world,’ but when all of your friends are trying to figure out their paths simultaneously, you can feel isolated even though you're technically going through this together. Feeling isolated--big surprise--does not lessen your worries.
So if I could do something differently, I'd relax and enjoy my senior year a bit more. After all, it should be a celebration of all that you've accomplished, and it's the last time all of the best friends you'll ever make will be living in one spot together.
The other funny part is that despite all of our worries, everything shook out, more or less. Job opportunities manifest, apartments are found, people grow and adapt. Much of that worry was unnecessary, but that's a hard lesson to remember in the moment.”
Why did you choose to attend RC?
“RC chose me! I got a scholarship to attend before I'd even heard of the school. I met Dr. Parker at the Michigan Thespian Festival my senior year of high school, and she told me about RC and offered me a scholarship. When I went up to accept that award during the weekend's closing ceremony, I actually came back and hugged my dad--who was chaperoning the trip--and whispered, ‘I don't want to go there.’ ‘What the hell could a Jewish girl do at a Christian college? I wondered’. Quite a lot, as it turned out.”
Do you have any suggestions for current students?
“So many! But I can't imagine everyone wants the full spiel, so I'll keep it brief.
RC has some of the kindest, most caring people you'll ever meet: and the great part is, many of them are literally employed to help you! Take advantage of those relationships: meet with your professors, go to tutoring for tricky subjects, get counseling with Dr. MacKinnon (you'll benefit from it, I promise). But also, let your time around these kind people make you more kind. Hold open doors. Say ‘thank you,’ to everyone. Make it a point to chat with people and check in on them, even (perhaps especially) when you don't need something from them. Also, take care of your friends and those friendships will last you an awfully long time.
However, even though RC people are the greatest in the world, network off campus, too: it will help ease your inevitable post-college transition if you already have internship experience and contacts at other organizations. RC teaches you who you can become, but outside opportunities will point you to where you want to go. As much as I love RC, my first non-RC internship at Chautauqua Theater Company introduced me to new people, new places, a new field (arts marketing), and proved just as formative to my eventual career path.
Finally, if you need help, just reach out. The RC network is tight and compassionate, and it will work relentlessly to support you. Seriously, if anyone wants to talk, has questions or needs anything, email me at email@example.com.”