Opportunities abound at Pacific for students to explore issues, ideas and meet people from a wide variety of fields. There are presentations, movies, conferences, community discussions, guest speakers and more taking place every week on campus. So why should you take the time to attend these events?

You should go because this is where you can find out what is going on in the world of jobs, following one’s dreams and the proverbial “real world.” All these opportunities bring practitioners of various kinds right to you in the place where you live and study. That’s an amazing thing.

College is a place where people make the shift from doing things just because they are expected of us (e.g. finishing high school, volunteering to burnish resumes, doing chores in the houses we grew up in) to doing things because that is what we want to do. By the time you graduate, you are treated as a fully-qualified adult—you can succeed or fail based on your own capabilities and your own dreams.

The programming at Pacific allows you to explore what those dreams can be.

Here’s what happened to me. When I was an undergraduate, I dreamed of becoming a United States ambassador. My classes supported this, my reading of the news supported this and my peers thought it was a great idea. At one point I was able to attend an evening talk with a U.S. ambassador and later, one with the ex-head of the CIA. I came away from those experiences knowing that I would never be happy in the U.S. Foreign Service. The process of meeting an actual professional in the field completely changed my outlook.

Graduates of Pacific are competent in their fields because of the work they do in the classroom. But they will be successful in their careers because they learn to how to interact with a wide variety of people. That experience can start with programming from the Center for Gender Equity, attending club meetings at which professionals talk, taking an hour or so one evening a week to go to hear a topic you have never considered before.

Pacific now has a Civic Engagement cornerstone. Beginning with the students who entered in August 2010, all Pacific grads need to complete this requirement. But don’t look at it as just another barrier to hurdle. Just like the senior thesis is a chance to put together a professional-level presentation, the Civic Engagement experience is a chance to explore what professionals in your field do in their larger communities. Scientists can learn to work with funding agencies; artists can learn how to win projects; social scientists can learn how to appeal to political entities; teachers can learn how to live with school boards.

The combination of the Civic Engagement requirement and all the extra-curricular programs that are occurring around you gives you an amazing opportunity—to begin to be part of the professional world in which you will build your careers. And to possibly learn about something you did not ever know.

Have I told you about that cooking class I took my junior year? It helped me meet my wife…

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