Saint Mary’s College conducts post-graduation survey
Nicole Caratas | Friday, May 13, 2016
The Saint Mary’s Office of Institutional Research conducted the annual Graduation Destination Survey to gain a general statistical overlook on what graduates of the class of 2016 intend to do after graduation.
According to the survey, of the 331 women in the graduating class, 283 students responded for a response rate of 85.5 percent.
The survey showed that 67.7 percent of students will enter the workforce, 31.2 percent will attend graduate or professional school and 12.8 percent will participate in an internship or externship.
The data also showed that 7.1 percent of students will participate in voluntary service.
Stacie Jeffirs, director of the Career Crossings Office, said Saint Mary’s encourages students to participate in voluntary service.
“The one great thing about Saint Mary’s is it’s encouraged to participate in service — it’s part of the curriculum,” Jeffirs said. “Students have an opportunity to explore those options a little bit more readily at the College, and they are encouraged to pursue those opportunities post-graduation. There’s a strong value here at Saint Mary’s in service to others, so I think it’s definitely one of those areas that students are very interested in pursuing.
“It’s a great opportunity after you graduate, especially for students who are in their own discernment process and trying to learn a little more about who they are and where they see themselves in the world. Being able to go out and participate in service for three months, a year, two years — it’s a great opportunity for graduates to learn a lot about themselves.
The survey showed that 2.5 percent of students will enroll in military service, which is an increase from the previous graduating class, which had fewer than .5 percent.
5.7 percent of students reported having “other” post-graduation plans. According to Jeffirs, “other” includes fellowships, traveling and taking a gap year. Jeffirs said there is overlap in the data because some students will volunteer or work, while also attending graduate school.
Jeffirs said this data demonstrates the College’s mission.
“You have to look at not just the statistics and the data and the percentages of where students are going, but you also have to look at where they are going and what they are doing and how that fits in with how they believe Saint Mary’s has prepared them for the world,” Jeffirs said. “Regardless, if the student is going to employment or graduate school, going into service [or the] military, the graduates think Saint Mary’s has prepared them very well for what they pursue.”
According to Jeffirs, a survey is sent to graduates one year and five years after graduation to gauge how well their time at the College has helped them in their career paths.
“When you look at the mission — to prepare women to make a difference and make a positive impact on the world — the survey and the results of the survey demonstrate that and show that Saint Mary’s is accomplishing that part of the mission,” Jeffirs said.
Sofia Piecuch, a senior global studies major with concentrations in international development and anthropology, will move to Geneva, Switzerland to intern at the Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice (IIMA) and Volunteers in Development, Education and Solidarity (VIDES) Human Rights Office, she said.
“Its mission is to promote a network between the Salesian family — the biggest Catholic religious order in the world — and the United Nations, in order to protect and promote human rights,” Piecuch said. “The office seeks to be specifically involved in the drafting of international policies that promote the right to education for all.”
Beginning in January, Piecuch will spend two years as a missionary with Heart’s Home, a Catholic non-profit organization that aims to foster and spread a culture of compassion, she said.
“This is an international mission that focuses on accompanying the poorest and most vulnerable members of society,” she said. “I have not yet been given an assignment, but my top three choices were Senegal, Brazil and the Philippines.”
Piecuch said the variety of courses offered at Saint Mary’s have helped her gain a broader perspective of the world.
“Taking courses on Islam and the politics of the Middle East helped me be a better host each summer to the women from the MENA (Middle East/North Africa) region who come to Saint Mary’s for a State Department-funded Global Women’s Leadership Initiative through the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership,” she said. “Studying abroad in Austria helped me grow in independence, maturity and fluency in German. Taking anthropology courses engaged my desire to understand other cultures and view it as an effective lens for constructing appropriate international development initiatives. Philosophy helped me think critically as well as write methodically, with proper argumentation.”
After graduating, senior Danielle Gibaut plans to move to Chicago and work as an account executive at Chicago-23, a marketing agency. Gibaut, who majored in business administration with concentrations in marketing and international business, said Saint Mary’s has prepared her in different ways for her future.
“All of the group projects helped me gain better communication skills,” Gibaut said. “The [senior comprehensive project] from my fall semester definitely prepared me for the world I’ll be doing in the real business world. I found my voice here at Saint Mary’s, and I know that’ll be something I carry through my career path.”
Senior Melissa Fitzpatrick majored in communication studies with minors in public relations, advertising and film studies. She said she will be doing a year of service in Brockton, Massachusetts.
“I’ll be volunteering for an organization called the Holy Cross Family Ministries,” Fitzpatrick said. “Their mission is to bring families together through prayer. The year of service also includes living in community with about seven other volunteers. We’ll share dinners, weekend activities and really learn to live in solidary with one another.”
According to Fitzpatrick, she is excited for this journey and said she could not have done it without Saint Mary’s.
“Saint Mary’s has taught me how to be a better friend, listener, student and servant,” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I am standing today without my Saint Mary’s friends, professors and mentors. Graduating from Saint Mary’s, I know I am prepared to face whatever is in store for me.”
Senior Isabella Gagnon, who majored in psychology, will be commissioned as a second Lieutenant in the Army Signal Corps. She said in an email she will report to Fort Gordon, Georgia for signal and communication training in September.
“Saint Mary’s really helped me step out of my comfort zone and really empowered me as an independent woman,” she said. “I feel so confident going to a work force that is only about 15 percent women. I was able to write my senior thesis on challenges women face in the military, so I feel very excited for the opportunities that I will have to give women in the military more of a voice.”
Gagnon said she and her fiancée will both be part of the Active Duty Army, and she is excited for the future.
“I hope there will be many opportunities for me to share my faith when we move to new places and make new friends,” she said. “I’m so thankful to always have Saint Mary’s and be part of such a wonderful alumni network.”