“If we’re being honest, no one really knows what they want to do.”
Sarah Morin ’17 kicked off her presentation to Tilton students with authenticity and a dose of experience she picked up along the way. Morin, now a software engineer at Oracle, spoke about her journey and career path as part of the Alumni Speaker Series organized by the Student Experience Block and the Advancement Office. Her opening comments helped establish a connection and helped illustrate thatit’s okay to leave the Hill without knowing 100% what will come next. After all, it turned out well for Morin. “I didn’t even consider studying computer science until I was a senior at Tilton,” she says. “I never actually knew where I was headed, but I’m thrilled with where I am.”
With alums ranging from the Class of 1961 to the Class of 2018, today’s Tilton students had the opportunity to hear a variety of perspectives on what comes after the Hill. “I think it was really valuable for our current students to hear about a variety of professions knowing that these people once sat in the same seats as them,” says faculty member Eliza Smith. Part of her work to redesign this aspect of Tilton’s program was to carve out dedicated opportunities for more interaction between current students and alumni. “I feel like sometimes our students have trouble connecting with speakers who have no connection to Tilton. Our alums bring that level of reality that other speakers can’t.”
With more than a dozen former students joining virtually or in person over the course of the school year so far, current students are aware and appreciative of their contributions to the present-day Tilton experience. “It’s important for us to hear about different experiences and possibilities from all perspectives,” says Lily Webster ’24. “Especially in the job field, a lot of people have no idea where to start. These small glances we got to see of their careers made me feel at ease — knowing that there are incredible possibilities after Tilton.”
Various classes have also been able to draw on the specific expertise of alumni in the field, like the Entrepreneurship class through its virtual visit with Chris Burch ’72. With more than 40 years as an entrepreneur, Burch doled out lessons learned along the way and answered questions about his many successful ventures, including Burch Creative Capital and Tory Burch LLC.
“The world we live in today is about me, me, me,” Burch told the students, “and we need people to think about others. Make your mind a camera — try to understand others and what they want and what they need. Tune in to understand what is next and then partner with creative people with strong intuition — they are the difference makers.” Burch began his career as an entrepreneur by selling sweaters with his brother as an undergraduate student at Ithaca College and reflected on those early days throughout the conversation. His most important takeaway? “Life is about never giving up.”
Regardless of how alumni get involved with programming at Tilton, the takeaway — from students, faculty, and alums themselves — has been overwhelmingly positive. “Giving back through any means is a great way to remind yourself of where you started and how far you’ve come,” says Master Sergeant Michael DeNutte ’05, who spoke about his experience in the Air Force. “Whenever I reach out to Tilton, I always leave with a smile on my face.”