On the evening of November 10, 25 Sarah Lawrence seniors gathered at Poets House in Manhattan to listen to some sage advice from eight accomplished alumnae/i working in writing and publishing. What did they hear?
“Changing editors is akin to breaking up with a boyfriend. Maybe I should send flowers.”
“If you can lift sixty pounds, you could be a garbage collector … they finish work around ten a.m. and then you could write.”
“There is great valor in paying your bills.”
“Become a mortician.”
“You can keep your day job while you pitch ideas for freelance.”
“Marry someone rich.”
The publishing/ writing event was part of “Road Trips to the Real World,” a senior networking event hosted by the offices of career counseling and alumnae/i relations. SLC seniors were given the opportunity to sign up for one of three panels that matched their post-graduate aspirations. “Sarah Lawrence alumnae/i are often the best career resource to students seeking information in their career discernment,” said Mary Raymond, director of career counseling. “At the career counseling office, we often see ourselves as information matchmakers.”
The two other panels that took place that night highlighted nonprofit professionals, held at Community-Word Project—a nonprofit organization where Michele Kotler ’90 is project director—featuring Kotler, Rona Carr ’74 (founder/principal, The Austin International Group), William Jones ’75 (executive director, Youth Shelter Program of Westchester, Inc.) and Charles Zerner (faculty member in environmental studies); and film/theatre/television professionals, held at the home of Jeannine Lally-Jones ’98 (co-founder of Dora Mae Productions, a New York-based theatre and film production company), and featuring Lally-Jones, theatre faculty member Shirley Kaplan, (director, Sarah Lawrence Theatre Outreach program), set designer Regina Garcia ’93, playwright/screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire ’92, actor Andrea Reese ’84 (Cirque Jacqueline) and Cecily Tyler ’97 (associate producer, TLC’s What Not to Wear).
This new effort to connect alums with undergrads, said Sally Davis, director of alumnae/i relations, “is a great opportunity for seniors to hear about different ways that Sarah Lawrence has helped our students learn.”
The publisher/writer panel was held in a room lined with 40,000 poetry books at Poets House. Panelists were Melvin Jules Bukiet ’74 (fiction writer/editor, SLC faculty writing faculty member), Clay MacLeod Chapman ’00 (writer/novelist), Jean Feiwel ’76 (editor-in chief/ and publisher, Scholastic Books), Jennifer Lyons’83 (literary agent, Joan Daves Agency), April Reynolds Mosolino ’97 (fiction writer, SLC writing faculty member), Lisa Schwarzbaum ’73 (film critic, Entertainment Weekly), Elizabeth Winthrop ’70 (children’s writer/editor) and Carlin Wragg ’04 (multimedia archive coordinator at Poets House).
There was room for humor: When one student asked about going to graduate school, Schwarzbaum looked at Bukiet and said, “You’re the only one here that’s gone to grad school.” Bukiet lowered his head. “I’m so ashamed.”
And there was time for insight. At the end of the night, Reynolds Mosolino reflected, “With Sarah Lawrence, there is an incredible web and generational thread. Hopefully, students will feel the community waiting for them when they leave.”
Students got the message. Sandra Sotelo-Miller ’05 is considering whether to stay in New York or return to her native Mexico. When asked what she thought of the evening, she said, “Reassuring. It’s not as scary as I thought. I won’t die of hunger, and that was my worry.”