Students had the opportunity to attend the fourth annual “Making an Impact Panel,” March 29. The alumni speakers present were Margaret Keech Cunningham C’81, Jillian Watson Fowler C’06, Alex Kestler C’16 and Leigh Tippett C’15.
Dr. Barbara Martin Palmer, Dean of the School of Education and Human Services, hosted the panel. Palmer introduced the panel stating, “Each year we’ve been inviting sociology, criminal justice and education majors to campus to talk about their work, their preparation for work and how they’re impacting the communities in which they live.”
Palmer then asked the panelist questions about their positions, challenges that they face with their work, general advice for students and more.
The first panelist, Margaret Cunningham C’81, works as a Principal Functional Analyst with General Dynamics Health Solutions. Cunningham clarified, “We work with the government; we work with the centers for Medicare and Medicaid. We work with them for creating the processing system that’s used to process every durable medical equipment claim in the whole year.” She graduated with a sociology major.
When asked about advice for the students, Cunningham advised, “The biggest thing I would say is that you need to be willing to be flexible.”
Balancing home life and work can be challenging. Cunningham shared, “It’s an even bigger challenge because I work from home. So I can stay up until five of eight watching the Today Show, and get to my office by eight o’clock and be there on time.”
The second panelist, Jillian Fowler C’06, works as a Mentor Research Teacher for Washington County Public Schools. Fowler explained, “I am a non evaluative instructional coach that works strictly with first year teachers. I spend time in their classrooms, I have coaching conversations, I support, I model teaching and I’m there to support brand new teachers in any way that I can.” She graduated as a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education.
When asked about advice for the students Fowler stated, “The best advice that I could give someone who wants to go into a position like mine is to be a continuous learner. Education is ever changing. You really have to stay up to date on what’s happening in education.”
When asked about what she valued most about the Mount Fowler said, “The expectations were high, the coursework was challenging, and I think it really prepared me for the work of a teacher.”
The third panelist, Alex Kestler C’16, works as a Social Studies teacher at Annapolis High School. He also coaches JV Lacrosse at Annapolis. He graduated with a degree in education in secondary social studies and is working towards getting his Masters in Educational Leadership.
When asked about the challenges he faces at work, Kestler points out the motivation of his students. “Sometimes my role is to be that figure that they can come into for an hour and a half every day, when their life is hectic and they can calm down and focus on something they know they can get better at; something that is grounded when everything else is in the air.”
Some advice that Kestler has about teaching is that, “It might seem cliché, but if you’re not having fun while you’re teaching then you’re in the wrong profession.”
The fourth panelist, Leigh Tippett C’15, works as a Cyber Engineer and Project Manager for Forcepoint Federal LLC. She graduated with a criminal justice major with a focus on crime and intelligence analysis.
“I work in the federal division in cyber threat. When you think of cyber threat, think Snowden, Manning, but also the Navy Yard shooter and individuals who commit crimes in federal spaces. I work with a team of analysts, investigators, and engineers. We utilize cyber security tools in order to catch these individuals and get them off the street hopefully before they do any damage to the country itself by selling secrets.”
An aspect of Tippett’s job is that, “It’s not for everyone; I don’t get to tell my family about my day.” When asked about advice Tippett stated, “For what I do, a top secret security clearance is required. What I do require is honesty to the utmost extreme.”
Students got to learn about the diverse routes that they could take after graduating as sociology, criminal justice or an education major.