Launching Careers: Alumni Stories

Andrew Brereton


Name: Andrew Brereton
Major: Anthropology
Current Job Title: Executive Dean for Student Success
Employer: Wheaton College Massachusetts

Tell us a bit about your life and career since graduation. How did you get your first job? How did you navigate to where you are now? Where do you live?
I was a 1st generation college student and, when I graduated; I had no plan and no direction.  I was hungry for a sense of competency, so after completing my degree, I apprenticed myself to a woodworker and learned a trade.  I spent the next several years as a carpenter and cabinetmaker.  When I got tired of working outdoors in the winter, I went back to graduate school and completed a doctorate in theology.  I had a passion for deep questions of meaning in human existence and thought I would teach.  However, I was lucky enough to find my way into student affairs.  For the last 13 years, I've been doing projects that help more students to succeed in college.

Why did you choose your major and minor?
I had no plan in college.  I chose anthropology because it seemed interesting and it had very few core requirements.  I could take a lot of things that just seemed interesting at the time.

How would you describe your greatest personal or professional accomplishment since graduating from Rutgers?
My greatest personal accomplishment has been having the opportunity to participate in the raising of four loving and successful adults (one of whom is an RU alum).  My greatest professional accomplishment came about when I was in the process of completing my doctorate and working as an adjunct.  I had a student in my class who was very bright, but was unsure of his ability to go to grad school.  I advised him and helped him to connect to some key resources.  He completed his PhD and is now on faculty at Howard University.

How has your arts and sciences education at Rutgers benefited you?  Is there a particular course, professor, or experience that was most meaningful? Please describe.
The most influential experience that I had as an undergrad was the religious studies courses I got to take with Professor Hiroshi Obayashi.  I found him very inspiring and he planted seeds of intellectual curiosity in me that eventually gave me the passion and drive to complete my PhD.

What advice can you offer to School of Arts and Sciences undergraduates about how to successfully connect their education in arts and sciences to their lives and careers after college?
Study what you love.  Your passion will be the fuel for success.  Gain some useful skills.  That will help you to make your way in the world.  Don't worry if you don't have it all figured out.  You only need a plan for the next 3-5 years.