Alumni Advisors for Social Responsibility Network Share Insights with Service-Minded Students
The Social Responsibility Network (SRN) connects Georgetown College students interested in service-based careers with College alumni mentors currently working in the field. Through monthly meetings and one-on-one sessions, students are able to learn about service-related industries from people who were once in their shoes.
The SRN was launched in Spring 2019 by Dean Thomas Chiarolanzio who currently serves on the Board of Advisors. As the two year anniversary of the program approaches, alumni advisors introduce themselves to new students.
Adrienne Villani (C’06)
Current Occupation: Director of Global Development, Technical Diversification – Internews
Undergraduate Major and Minor: Italian Studies; (m) Economics
What made you want to get involved in the SRN? I want to give back to Georgetown in any way I can and wish there had been a resource for me like this when I was a student. I felt like many of my classmates were on much more linear paths and knew what they wanted to do post-graduation but I hadn’t the slightest clue.
What has been your favorite experience so far in working with the SRN? Brainstorming with my mentees, calming their nerves, and being offered the opportunity to give back.
Why did you choose a job working with issues related to social responsibility? My Georgetown education, and the Jesuit values imbued in us, taught me the value of being a person for others and, when I graduated, I knew I wanted to do something service-oriented as a result.
How do you think being in the College fostered your sense of and future work in social responsibility? I’m a big believer in the value of a liberal arts education. Being in the College allowed me to explore many different topics and issues – how to write, how to think analytically, all of which have been great skills, in work and in life.
What advice would you give to future College students about pursuing a career in social responsibility work? My advice is quite practical – as much as concentrating on the issues, learn a skill that you can apply to the issues!
Davine Scarlett (C’09)
Current Occupation: Grants Manager – Camillus House, Inc.
Undergraduate Major and Minor: Anthropology; (m) English and Psychology
What made you want to get involved in the SRN? When Dean Chiarolanzio explained the vision of the SRN, I started to reflect on my own Georgetown experience and how I wished that there was a dedicated space like this one available to me as an undergrad where all the mentorship and resources would be in one location. I also wanted to give voice to the “behind the scenes” aspects of social responsibility to show that you do not have to always be “in the field” in order to help make a difference in society.
What has been your favorite experience so far in working with the SRN? It would be being able to chat with my mentees and learning about their diverse interests. While COVID has definitely redefined the landscape, I am confident that they will continue with their goals of making a lasting, positive impact on the world in their own ways.
Why did you choose a job working with issues related to social responsibility? While I was not born in this country, I have lived here almost all of my life. With that comes a duality of perspectives, especially when it comes to opportunity and what that truly means. I seem to have always gravitated to jobs that deal with providing opportunities for individuals and communities whether it is through education or providing humanitarian services. Sometimes all it takes is that one moment when someone gives you a chance that can change your whole trajectory in life.
How do you think being in the College fostered your sense of and future work in social responsibility? Georgetown was a perfect fit for me. I was always a firm believer in “Men and Women for Others” and the idea of cura personalis but, at Georgetown, I found a home for my ideals and people who were just as excited to engage in social responsibility as I was.
What advice would you give to future College students about pursuing a career in social responsibility work? I would say be flexible and be limitless. Just because your degree says one thing does not mean you cannot learn and grow and be just as qualified in other areas. Be like a sponge!
Francesca Vietor (C’86)
Current Occupation: Senior Advisor/Commissioner – San Francisco Foundation/SF Public Utilities Commission
Undergraduate Major and Minor: Italian; (m) Spanish
What made you want to get involved in the SRN? I did not know, when I went to Georgetown, that I could transition my interest in service and giving back to the world into an actual career. I thought that they were two different trajectories that could not be combined. So when I attended my very first alumni gathering—twenty years after graduating—and heard from Dean Celenza about his interest in starting a program for students to combine their interest in social justice with job opportunities, I volunteered on the spot.
What has been your favorite experience so far in working with the SRN? Connecting with the SRN Hoyas has been the best experience so far. I thought that last year’s cohort was the ultimate in how engaged and articulate they were until I heard from this year’s cohort. Wow! It is so exciting to me that there are more and more students who want to make a positive difference in the world.
Why did you choose a job working with issues related to social responsibility? It took me a few years after graduating from college to realize that social service, justice, and responsibility were my calling. Once that happened, I no longer had a choice -I needed to work in a job that gave back and advanced social good. That, and the passion and compassion that I felt when I was exposed to environmental issues and what was happening to the planet and disadvantaged communities, made me choose my jobs.
How do you think being in the College fostered your sense of and future work in social responsibility? I actually graduated from the School of Languages and Linguistics which was eventually folded into the College. Learning about other cultures and languages, and how other people lived, had a huge impact on my choice to help others less fortunate or from different backgrounds.
What advice would you give to future College students about pursuing a career in social responsibility work? Follow your heart and remember there are twists and turns in every road. And then comes a fork and you have to decide which way to go. Stop, take a breath, listen to your intuition and your calling. Consider what will bring the most good to the most people and to the planet. Even if it means sacrificing money or fame, choose that path. With any luck and a lot of intention, money and fame will follow.
Heidi Schultheis, (C’09)
Current Occupation: Senior Project Manager for Field Building – Heartland Alliance
Undergraduate Major and Minor: American Studies; (m) Spanish and English
What made you want to get involved in the SRN? As an undergraduate student, I was really intimidated by the idea of professional networking. I also wasn’t convinced that networking would factor significantly into my job search, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I have learned over the years that networking is essential in nearly any career and there’s no reason to fear it. I always make time to talk with students and jobseekers who reach out to me with questions about my career choices, work experiences and my employers. I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to give back in this capacity to Georgetown students who are interested in service-oriented careers.
Why did you choose a job working with issues related to social responsibility? My first job out of college was with a nonprofit organization that worked with families experiencing homelessness. I have continued to pursue careers related to improving the lives of others because I find it extremely fulfilling and also because I find policy change fascinating; the public policy landscape is constantly evolving and there is always more to learn. Even in moments of frustration, I am reminded of how fulfilling it is and what a privilege it is to work in a field that seeks to improve the lives of people who are too often marginalized and excluded from critical opportunities and services.
How do you think being in the College fostered your sense of and future work in social responsibility? When I reflect on my time as a student in the College, I remember that many of my classmates aspired to work in the public sector or the nonprofit sector, whether that was in electoral politics, public education, healthcare, or many other areas. This started to inform my thinking about what kind of work I wanted to do. As an American Studies major, I was able to take classes on a wide variety of topics like civic education and engagement or the history of labor and philosophy that each, in their own way, prepared me to pursue a career at the nexus of nonprofit work and public policy. I also joined student groups such as H*yas for Choice, which embraces reproductive justice and seeks to educate and empower students about sexual health in a way that the University does not. And while I was not raised in a faith tradition, I understood the Jesuit teaching of “men and women for others” to apply to all Georgetown students in all of our pursuits, regardless of our faith. In all of these ways and more, my experience in the College equipped me with intellectual curiosity, historical context, and grounding principles that all serve me well in my work.
What advice would you give to future College students about pursuing a career in social responsibility work? The first thing I’d say is that careers in the realm of social responsibility come in a lot of shapes and sizes. There is no one “right” way to do this work, and it can be a great choice for people with wide-ranging skills, specialties, and interests. It can look like working in direct human services as a social worker or a pro bono attorney, directing a nonprofit organization, doing policy analysis for a think tank, managing communications for advocacy campaigns, corporate social responsibility in the private sector and much more. Engage with alumni, professors, mentors, and your greater network to explore how your skills and interests may be a good fit for social responsibility work.
Another piece of advice I would give is to allow yourself time and space to learn about various aspects of social responsibility work so that you find what fits you best and what is most interesting to you. This really matters because the most significant piece of advice I can give is to love what you do. This is particularly important because careers like mine don’t often come with flashy salaries, so you need to be sure that your work is fulfilling in ways that go beyond a particular amount of compensation. If that doesn’t deter you, I’m confident that you could find a lifetime of satisfaction in social responsibility work.
MacKenzie Copley (C’15)
Current Occupation: Co-Founder & CEO – One Tent Health
Undergraduate Major and Minor: Economics; (m) Physics
What made you want to get involved in the SRN? When I was in school, all I wanted was a job and/or menu of jobs that I could look forward to making me feel satisfied and fulfilled. I didn’t see any of those roles anywhere. Now, a few years out of school, if there’s anything that I can do to help navigate passionate and enthusiastic students to positions that make them feel good, and help the world, that’s what I’d like to do. With the SRN’s creation, there’s now a space for that.
What has been your favorite experience so far in working with the SRN? It’s been two-pronged. I’ve loved getting to work with the students and build those warm relationships. The second part is that I’ve loved building, growing, and enjoying the increased connection with Georgetown and to the Hilltop. We know it’s a strange semester and academic year, but COVID-restrictions aside, I love having another reason to head up to and through the front gates!
Why did you choose a job working with issues related to social responsibility? I love humans. And it feels so important to like how you spend your days. I think one of the most important things I can do with my little, short life is to help as many people in as stress-relieving and life-saving & -extending way as possible. In a way, that’s kind of the only thing in the world I care about. We’ve got to improve things always and I’m grateful and glad to have gotten to find a way to feel like I get to do that. It makes the days, each of them, feel meaningful and like there’s a really good reason for the time spent.
How do you think being in the College fostered your sense of and future work in social responsibility? I think, in a way (and this is more a Georgetown than just the College thing), it made me realize how good we all, and certainly I, had it, or have it. We’re Georgetown grads. We have a piece of paper (or are working towards one) that says, if we don’t want to, we’ll never go hungry, likely ever. Everything will be alright and ok, almost no matter what. That’s wild and an insane safety blanket. And I think just with that pretty elevated worst-case financial and economic scenario, there’s a lot of opportunity there and responsibility to take advantage of it and step out to help people and to do our best, or at least my best, to make them (under- or less-privileged people) as best-off as possible. If we, who have power (access to money & influence), don’t lend a hand and undo or combat some societal unfairness, who will? Who can? And who could do it to the same extent? I love a lot of the College and University’s stated principles. I feel like they support and maybe influenced and affirmed a lot of my feelings and views. I feel proud to be connected to and a part of an institution that works to help and improve the world.
What advice would you give to future College students about pursuing a career in social responsibility work? Just find a way to do it now. Apply, send emails, set up coffee chats (or COVID-safe videos). Lean on your friends – especially those older than you. Build your own thing if you don’t see anyone else doing it, or doing it better than you think you can. You can do it better. Don’t give up the pursuit, because helping people is a right thing. And if you can get it to click, you’ll probably feel better about how you spend your days, time, and therefore life, than you ever would have otherwise. Really. It’s good, so do it; don’t forget that people matter and that you can and will make things better if you want. You’ve got this, so go get it, and good luck.
Mike Scanlan (C’86)
Current Occupation: Administrative Dean – St. Benedict’s Preparatory School
Undergraduate Major and Minor: History; (m) Economics
What made you want to get involved in the SRN? I was familiar with what Dean Chiarolanzio was trying to accomplish because the model resembled the one I knew from Baker Scholars. The real reason why I am interested in being involved is I understand the challenges of finding jobs in the social responsibility fields. Unlike finance and other jobs that have clearly defined recruiting paths, social responsibility type work doesn’t. Recruiters don’t come to the Cawley Career Center and interview for days. Thus, it takes a totally different approach to finding those jobs.
What has been your favorite experience so far in working with the SRN? That’s an easy answer. I enjoy getting to know the students. I find that they are very sincere in their effort to work in a social responsibility field and want to tackle difficult issues.
Why did you choose a job working with issues related to social responsibility? I got involved through urban education because as I got older I came to appreciate the excellent primary, secondary, and university education I was afforded because of the sacrifices my parents were willing to make. I’ve been at Saint Benedict’s Prep for 25 years because we provide a high-quality education to people who otherwise couldn’t afford it.
How do you think being in the College fostered your sense of and future work in social responsibility? In my junior and senior years as a Baker Scholar, I met alumni who had a wide range of experiences both in business fields and outside business. I came to see that very talented people used their skills in a number of ways after college and came to see the possibilities for my own work.
What advice would you give to future College students about pursuing a career in social responsibility work? Have courage and follow your convictions. People who work in these fields have a high level of job satisfaction. The older one gets, the more one realizes how important that is. The complex problems in our society around race, poverty, and climate change just to name a few, need sharp minds and dedicated people to address them. Georgetown graduates are extremely well suited to this call.
-by Shelby Roller (G’19)