When looking at a college, the town generally plays a part in the decision-making process. In some cases it is a major draw, in others a big setback, but unless it is in a vibrant metropolis like Monmouth, most students probably do not see themselves bumming around the town for more than their four years. This is not the case for post-baccalaureate fellows, KnoxCorps members and even staff.
For these Knox alums, Galesburg was the place of choice for continuing education, volunteerism, personal creative projects and a jump-start to new careers.
“I was reluctant to even come to Knox,” admissions counselor Sarah Colangelo ’10 said. She was originally interested in attending school in a more urban area, but decided as an undergraduate and is now responsible for interviewing prospective students, reviewing applications and traveling across the country recruiting others to attend the same institution.
Colangelo graduated with a major in English literature and a minor in journalism and originally intended to pursue a career in journalism upon graduation.
“After spending a year kind of in the game at TKS, I sort of decided that journalism wasn’t my cup of tea, so I didn’t know what I was going to do,” she said.
After determining that her concentrations and network connections would not cut it, Colangelo turned to an old love: travel. Though she had traveled with the choir as an undergrad, Colangelo was never able to study abroad.
As an admissions counselor travel is a big part of the job. Last year, her terrain covered southern Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, the Dakotas and Oklahoma. This year, she has been switched to cover Colorado and the mountain states. She described the experience as “very different, but really great. You get to see and really get to know people from all over. And people from Colorado are great. They’re just so Knox.”
The position is one that fell into Colangelo’s lap after graduation.
“I was panicked at the end of the year because I didn’t know what I was going to do anymore, and someone apparently saw the panic on my face and said ‘Hey, you’d be really good at it, you’d be around’ so I applied for the position,” she said.
“I thought I’d kill a year and figure out what I want to do and then I’ll move onto something else,” Colangelo said. But after two years of working in admissions she is still content to be in Galesburg.
“Galesburg’s been really wonderful. It’s a cool city; it’s nice to really have time to appreciate it as a town and start to recognize faces at the gas station,” she said.
Colangelo said that one pet peeve of hers was listening to students trash the town.
“I just wish that people would appreciate a good thing and go out into town more. Small towns are just great things and Galesburg itself is amazing,” she said.
Though Isaac Miller ’12 admitted to not venturing much outside the Knox bubble as an undergrad, upon graduation he embraced Galesburg.
“It [Galesburg] was a nice, relaxed place to live, really easy to support yourself … and I’d say it’s very comfortable here,” Miller said of staying in town over the summer.
Miller is a member of KnoCorps, a service organization in Galesburg that places Knox graduates and undergraduates with local non-profit organizations. Additionally, Miller is a post-baccalaureate, undertaking various projects with the theatre department this year. Each post-bac is responsible for completing a project each term and may elect to take up to two Knox classes free of charge.
For fall term, Miller’s project is the creative work “44 Plays for 44 Presidents,” directed by junior Alyssa Gill. He has already begun preparaing for his project in spring term, where he will be in charge of at least six weeks of production ranging from staged readings to bare stages and productions on the pageant wagon and culminating in two fully-teched studio theatre productions of all student work.
Miller is currently accepting submissions for plays written by alumni, students and faculty of Knox. He will be filtering them and then will present them to a committee made up of faculty like Visiting Instructor in English and Theatre Sherwood Kiraly ‘72 and Professor of Theatre Neil Blackadder. He is also reaching out to alumni in the hopes of getting an alum on the committee as well. Ultimately they will choose a handful of plays.
Miller finds his experience to be different from studio productions he participated in as an undergrad.
“My experience is vastly different and I’m having pressures and projects put on me that I haven’t experienced before, so it’s helping me figure out where my place might be in a money-making world,” he said.
Originally, Miller said he had no thoughts about his future upon graduation and that a post-bac seemed like a logical next step.
“Initially, I just knew I wanted to spend another year where I’m comfortable at Knox, and I had a number of friends who did the post-bac program, and it seemed like an amazing thing to get education for free in America,” he said.
“As I looked into projects I could do for the school, I found this “44 Plays” festival that was going on and thought that would be a good way to get Knox involved with something larger,” Miller said of his post-bac work.
Miller feels that he has been positively surprised with the experience.
“I’m really not in any sort of holding pattern with the projects I’m pursuing,” he said.
Like Miller, Ivy Reid ’12 also has a passion for theater.
According to Reid, the two free courses a term work out to about $18,000 a year’s worth of free classes which benefits her, having no plans to attend graduate school.
“Overall, the post-bac program is just a really good deal,” Reid said.
Reid has previously served as facilities manager for the theater department and will continue to take on many of those responsibilities this year as the current manager will be spending time abroad.
Her interest was, in part, due to a desire to postpone her professional life.
“I did the theater tech scene as an undergrad and I was just kind of burnt out. So I knew I either needed to take a year off or do a post-bac,” Reid said.
Though she had a hectic life as an undergrad, she said that her biggest regret was simply not having enough time.
“This is just a really nice rounding out of any regrets I might have had had I not done a post bac. It gives me a little more time to decide where I would like to go and what I’d like to do,” she said.
Genevieve Crow ’12 is a post-bac interested in exploring a number of different options. Upon graduating, she lacked direction. With a degree in creative writing and a minor in psychology, she applied to graduate school in anthropology. When she did not get in anywhere that sounded exciting to her, she turned back to Knox.
She is currently taking classes in playwriting and urban agriculture, and has a post-bac placement with the Center for Teaching and Learning with Director John Haslem where she is responsible for developing the CTL website by ensuring that it is more accessible. She will also be collaborating with junior Max Glassner to create tutor training videos for the new writing tutors.
Over the summer, she volunteered with Growing Galesburg and on an organic farm. She has a general interest in sustainable food systems.
“I don’t really consider [working in agriculture] an academic interest. I like cooking, I like eating, I like knowing where my food’s coming from,” she said.
On Friday, she will begin an internship with Galesburg Regional Economic Development Association involving farm grants.
“Now I’m learning more technical things: how to write a grant, how to grow a tomato, stuff like that,” Crow said.
Though she only has plans to stay in Galesburg for the year, she is open to more long-term plans and hopes to gain work experience before attending graduate school, where she will focus in academia.
“I just think the college campus is a really great environment, whether it’s Knox College or a big university. I just think having all these people concentrated with all these ideas is a really energetic sort of environment,” Crow said.