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October 10, 2013

Panel of alumni allays CLASS students' fears

By Travis Raymond

The college of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences hosted a panel of Cleveland State University alumni on Oct. 8 to inform students about what kinds of career opportunities they can pursue with liberal arts degrees.

Moderated by Dr. Elizabeth Lehfeldt, the chair of Cleveland State’s history department, the panel was comprised of CLASS graduates who had majored in music, history, and English.

Ed Gallagher, who graduated in 1992, is now the director of the Education and Creative Arts and Therapies at Beck Center. Patricia Leebove, now business relationship manager at Eaton Corporation, earned degrees at Cleveland State in 1998 and 2007. Marty O’Toole graduated from Cleveland State in 1982 and is now vice president of the compliance solutions business team at GOJO Industries. Gretchen Schuler graduated from Cleveland State in 1998 and is now vice president of insurance risk management and technical documentation at Invacare Corp.

Paul Wolansky, CLASS’ director of advancement, assembled the panel, the department’s first of its kind. Wolansky said he selected panelists who had gone far to show CLASS students the job market’s need for liberal arts degrees.

“We saw a need to connect current students with our alumni,” Wolanksy said. “This is the first time we’ve had an event of this magnitude.”

Dr. Lehfeldt voiced concerns on behalf of CLASS students anxious about how to market themselves and their degrees.

“I have conversations with history majors several times a year, and I recognize that they have very real practical concerns about what they will do and what kinds of careers they can have after they graduate,” said Dr. Lehfeldt. “We think that it will be an empowering experience for students to listen to successful Cleveland State graduates who majored in the liberal arts talk about this.”

About 25 students attended to hear the panelists speak. The most prominent advice given to CLASS students involved networking, building strong resumes, consulting good mentors, and intellectual and professional flexibility.

“Don’t label yourself as a liberal arts major,” O’Tool said. “You’re a problem solver who knows how to communicate well.”

The next CLASS panel will be for social sciences majors at noon on Thursday, Oct. 10.