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Skidmore College

Classics Alumnae and Alumni Reflections

The Classics Department is proud of our alumnae and alumni, and we're interested to know what you are doing, and whatever role classics has played in your life. Keep in touch! Fill out the update form, or email Prof. Dan Curley with an update.

Classics Alums Address "Creative Thought Works"

Comments from our alumnae and alumni

Suren Tripathi '13
Take advantage of the opportunity Skidmore gives you to do a double major. While my job relies heavily on my studies in economics, the classics courses I took were perhaps more useful in terms of improving my analytical skills. Learn Greek; it'll be impossible to master but the discipline and rigor required forced me to become a better student. Plan ahead but be willing to throw those plans aside. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life when I was at Skidmore. I knew I wanted to study economics but, frankly, I believe my classics experience brought out the desire to learn in me far more than intro to macro economics possibly could (getting to read Homer's Iliad was epic!).

Susie Warden '09
Especially after the great recession, people (not excluding myself) have scoffed at my choice of degree in college—classics. Fareed Zakaria, author of In Defense of a Liberal Education, is the guest on the Daily Show and is reminding me how proud I was and am of graduating with my particular degree. Sure, it may seem on the surface that I'm not doing anything with it, but that's not true at all. In school I learned that passion and critical thinking are the most important qualities to have in anything I do. And my curiosity allows me to have a much greater range of interests, and therefore many more opportunities for success. I am now doing what I love for a living and I truly think that my liberal education, including my high school days, is one of the main reasons for that. I am grateful for my passion and my curiosity, as well as my seemingly random ability to read Greek.

Jeffrey Bussmann '03
Now I deal with Latin on a daily basis!

Graham Johnson '02
People always found it a little strange that I graduated Skidmore as a business major and a classics minor. I couldn't be happier with my decision to graduate on both ends of the spectrum. I feel as though it has made we well-rounded and enabled me to think outside the everyday routine of the business world. People always seem to be impressed with my background given that I studied Roman history and cost accounting at the same time. One of the main things I learned from my experience at Skidmore is that you do not have to be locked down to one area such as business or English. You can broaden your horizons and gain experience in ways you didn't think were possible at the start of your college career.

Alexander Carballo '01
Being in education for the past seven years has only increased my appreciation for the Classics Department at Skidmore. While we were not the largest of departments, we definitely boasted the best student/faculty ratios and relationships. Some of my fondest memories from college occurred during my time in the department and I aspire as an educator to instill these same types of memories within my own students. The high expectations, academically rigorous curricula, and intensive writing and critical thinking skills would prepare anyone for anything they may choose after graduation—that's why the Skidmore classics alumni have such diverse careers! Trekking to Harder Hall to meet with my advisor, 9 a.m. Greek I with Mechem on Fridays (always fun to see who made it), naps on the couches in the Honors Forum lounge, one-on-one seminar with Prof. Weismann, hearing Arnush rock the Grateful Dead in his office and the great Skidmore Odyssey are only a few of the fond memories that I carry with me every day.

Answer to the question: Were it not for the classics program at Skidmore, I honestly do not know what my post-Skidmore years would have been like. The critical thinking, rigor, devotion to scholarship, and high expectations helped to create a work ethic in me that I have carried to this day.

Jill Mariani '00
All the lessons I learned on analytical, critical thinking and articulate, active writing in the classics curriculum, I now employ in my teaching and classroom. To the utmost of my ability, I try to convey those same lessons of effective writing and passion for a subject to my students that I absorbed and incorporated in my life from the attentive direction of the classics instructors. Additionally, I try to make my students see that literature, philosophy, war tactics, etc. of the past are alive and well today in our society.

Meg Breuer '98
As a Ph.D. student, I have to say that studying classics at Skidmore was an extremely important experience for me. Studying ancient Greek writing, especially, has helped me a great deal when learning other languages, as I am now endeavoring to learn Dutch! Without that knowledge, practice, and hard work I would never be able to get by in a foreign land (in a foreign tongue!). Also, being a classics major at Skidmore meant working hard because of the focus of the professors on the students. Classes were never larger than a handful of students, and I really enjoyed the almost one-on-one guidance I received. Not only did I learn more, but I learned how to be a better student. And that, I think, is more important than anything else.

Jonathan Fry '98
Studying in the Classics Department at Skidmore helped determine my first steps out of college. I entered into the graduate program in history at the University of Chicago, in which I used my undergraduate training in Greek and Roman history and languages extensively. I'd count those classes among my fondest memories of Skidmore. Since then, I've still maintained a strong interest in the classical world in my reading, hobbies and travels. I think it says something that, when touring the British Museum for the first time recently, facts and impressions from classes I took 5—8 years ago sprang to mind as if I've learned them yesterday. I think training in the classics supplies one with a framework for viewing our society and understanding many of its roots and core values. It's also a lot of fun.

Megan Sullivan '98
Classics definitely fed my love for reading and learning. It gave me a strong foundation for understanding modern works and it sure helps in my current line of work: deciding what books to carry for a mostly academic bookstore. I still read books on classics even though I am no longer in school. In fact I wrote and posted a recommendation for a book on Cicero, and tons of people bought it!

Jane (Baldwin) Henzerling ' 97
I actually reflected quite a bit on that question yesterday and realized that my studies in the field of classics have enhanced my ability to tackle complex issues. Because classics is truly an interdisciplinary field encompassing the cultural, historical, linguistic, literary, political, socio-economic, religious, and scientific aspects of civilization, it shaped my approach to issues I face in my work with Teach for America, specifically the issue of educational inequity. Education itself is a complex network of interrelated facets of our society, and I believe studying classics aided me in viewing those facets through both holistic and analytical lenses. I am better able to identify and address the multi-dimensional range of causes and effects that lead to educational inequity thanks to my work in classics. Thank you for providing challenging academic opportunities to me and to all Skidmore classics students.

Heidi (Ritz) Cohen '94
The first thing i can think of to say is that in all honesty, I think being a classics major definitely got me into my masters program and my first job. OK, maybe not the actual job, but definitely the interview. Most people don't come across a classics major in their resume piles and I think it piqued a lot of curiosity. More importantly, i think it also showed a well-rounded, interdisciplinary education and a level of scholarship that others may not have had.

Jennifer Kniffin '93
Well, obviously lots as I've been teaching Latin for 11 years! (I wish now that I had taken every classics course available at Skidmore...)

Erica (Anderson) Jerome '92
For me, college was always about a liberal arts education. Everything I do on my job I learned on the job, it's not rocket science. But learning how to think has greatly increased my aptitude for approaching problems, finding creative solutions and especially managing people. I teach my subordinates in the Socratic method all of the time, and I think of myself as the philosopher king of my group, as though I have a greater responsibility in my role as a leader.

Ellen Manyon '84
It gave me a great foundation for the rest of my studies in history. Latin helped with writing. A classics background also helped me to understand the Victorian-aged people I interpret in the museum world, because that is the kind of education they received.

Laurie Blackwood '83
The study of classics has always supported me in my commitment to live and work according with my values, to always attempt to see from many perspectives, and to make choices with my heart as guide. One of the greatest gifts of studying classics seems to be this love I continue to feel for the complexity and beauty of language. Helga Doblin and Harry Gaugh (art history professor) always encouraged our involvement as whole human beings in all realms of life. In my work in the holistic realm of healthcare and rehabilitation, it is helpful to work in that same spirit, supporting people to think outside the lines, to innovate, to feel, to trust their inner knowing.

Emily Meyer Sacks '83
B.A. double major in classical studies and studio art. 1986 M.A. Teachers College/Columbia University in secondary education. History. 2000 New Seminary NYC, graduate ordained interfaith minister, holistic practitioner (Greek and Latin helped me learn all the common names and homeopathic remedies; thank you Dr. Doblin). My work and studies with Dr. Lewis (English), Dr. Doblin (classics), Dr. Diggory (English), Michael Moore (classics), Dr. Gaugh (art history) and Dr. Brynteson (history) are never far from my thoughts or my heart. I thank them for giving us the interdisciplinary soul that runs throughout classical studies and life. I married Joshua Sacks—also a member of '83—who took and valued the many classics courses he took at Skidmore. We live in Connecticut and have three children: 16 year-old James, 13-year-old Hallie, and 11-year-old Will.

Susan Decker Thomas '82
Classics was a very small department in 1982, and my major coursework actually came from several different areas. So many professors were involved and interested, and willing to spend extra time and effort by creating and leading independent study courses (I actually took five independent studies!) Very active in the department were professors from other areas: Terence Diggory, Bill Brynteson, Tom Lewis, to name just a few. Michael Moore had just arrived when I was there, but his love of the Homeric Hymns, and his wonderful voice and meter, were always a pleasure to listen to and learn from. (Bill Brynteson would be appalled by those dangling participles, but thanks to him, my writing is completely free of the passive voice!) From each of these wonderful professors, I gained a sense of the development of western thought and culture that has served me well in whatever intellectual endeavor I choose to explore. I hope that the tradition continues and expands ....