Alumni Stories

Steph Lanza

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Name: Steph Lanza ‘14
Major: Psychology Minor: Education
Current Job Title: Career Advisor
Employer: Rowan College - Gloucester County


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'm currently living in Claymont, DE. After I graduated in 2014, I started grad school at the University of South Carolina that August. I pursued my master's degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs and graduated in May 2016.  I began applying for jobs in February 2016, because according to research I did, many of the student affairs jobs started being released between then and the summer. My family is from the Atlantic City area, so after moving back to NJ, I was able to stay with them until my partner and I found an apartment, so I was fortunate to be able to apply for jobs without starting to pay bills or loans. My first job is my current job, and I started in July 2016.

Why did you choose your major and minor?
Initially when I began at Rutgers in 2010, I wanted to pursue School Psychology. After getting involved on campus in various leadership positions and organizations, I knew college students were my passion. At this point, I declared a minor in Education at the beginning of my junior year because it aligned with my goals.

How would you describe your greatest personal or professional accomplishment since graduating from Rutgers?
Absolutely receiving my master's degree and getting my first job only two months after that. Only one of my parents has a college degree, and neither of them nor my brother pursued any type of graduate degree, so I'm technically the first. My parents and siblings were always extremely supportive and I never take my education for granted. People like to hate on millennials for a lot of things, but I think another huge accomplishment is being able to have a job where I can pay my student loans and bills. Not everyone has that ability, and it's a privilege for me to be able to survive when many of my millennial friends are just scraping by.

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.
Arts and Sciences education in general is extremely important. Don't believe what the media and critics tell you. I am grateful for my general liberal arts education because it made me a well-rounded person. Having a core curriculum helped me see that I had freedom and autonomy in how I wanted my education to look. My two favorite professors were Dan Ogilve and Margaret Ingate. Professor Ogilve taught Soul Beliefs, which was a fascinating course that made me think critically about my beliefs and the beliefs of others. Dr. Ingate was a phenomenal psychology professor who confirmed my passion for mental health education.

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?
Understand that no matter if you're majoring in humanities or STEM or business, you will use your knowledge from arts and sciences courses in ways you can't imagine. If there was a general education class you enjoyed, read articles about it, watch YouTube videos on it. Continue to explore the content. As a student with education in arts and sciences, realize that even if you don't see it now, your coursework has made you more adaptable and has significantly developed your critical thinking skills. These are two qualifications that everyone graduating from SAS can discuss on a resume, job interview, etc. (advice from a career advisor--write that down!) People with this education are the ones who will solve the world's problems because they not only are experts in their field, but they have learned to examine humanity in a nuanced way. You become more open to new ideas and that alone is a hot commodity in our political climate.

I always tell students who want to pursue a humanities field to have experience outside the classroom. If you're not involved right now or don't have leadership experience, work on that. Apply for internships. These things take precedence on your resume and employers will see that you've applied your education to real-world situations.