Major: English Language and Literature
In light of homecoming last week, I sat down with recent UMD grad Becca Kates to talk about life after graduation and take a trip down a red, white, black and gold memory lane with her.
What have you been doing since graduation?
I’m working in an AmeriCorps VISTA position at St. Mary’s College of Maryland through the Maryland-DC Campus Compact. It’s a perfect mix of service oriented work and experience in the higher education/student affairs field.
You must have really loved your undergraduate experience to want to continue in the field of higher education! What were you involved in when you were a student at UMD?
I did love my time as an undergrad, and I was pretty heavily involved on campus. I served as several positions in my sorority, including a year as Executive Vice President. I was also involved in the Greek community at UMD while I served as President of UMD’s chapter of Order of Omega, the Greek Leadership Honor Society. Additionally, I got involved in sexual assault education and prevention work through becoming a peer educator for CARE (Campus Advocates Respond and Educate) to Stop Violence at the UMD Health Center. Those are just the highlights—I loved my time as an undergrad and I had so many great experiences with many different groups on campus.
How have these experiences helped you to #adult?
Being a leader on campus gave me so many skills I now use in every single day in my work at St. Mary’s. For example, I regularly give presentations and workshops to groups of high school and college students, and I’m confident when speaking because I learned how to speak in front of both large and small audiences as the President of a leadership organization.
You were heavily engaged in Greek life during your time at UMD, and the leadership organization you mentioned was through Greek life. How did your sorority shape who you are post-grad?
ADPi gave me the confidence to put myself out there. When I joined, I was pretty painfully shy. But, after living with my sorority sisters and getting involved in smaller positions in the chapter, I was inspired to take a chance and go for the leadership positions I wanted, and my sisters supported me all the way. In terms of post-grad, I think the same thing applies. I’m so much more confident because of ADPi. And, of course, the friends that I made while in the chapter are still my friends now, and I know they’ll be supporting me for the rest of my life.
That’s so awesome. Speaking of sisterhood and college women, obviously, your involvement with CARE to Stop Violence shows your investment in women’s issues. In addition to sexual assault, what do you think are the major issues college women are facing today?
Besides sexual assault, which I think we’ve all seen the media coverage of at this point, I think that one of the major issues facing college women is society’s perception of them as leaders. We see women in the media who are questioned on their leadership abilities based on what they’re wearing or whether or not they’re married/have children. College women see this, and become discouraged about their potential to be leaders in a workforce that is still (unfortunately) predominantly led by men.
Since you are pursuing a career in higher education, how do you hope to change this?
I would love to bring more attention to women’s leadership, and maybe start a class or club focused on women’s leadership at whatever institution I end up working for after I get my Master’s degree. The best way to change thing is education, so I want to educate as many people [as I can], especially college students, on these issues and what we can do to make a difference and start changing things.
Becca (Center) with fellow AmeriCorps Vista workers
I’m sure all of our HerCampus readers would appreciate any of the above additions you could bring to the university setting. Final question that I ask everyone, who are the three women that you respect the most?
That’s really hard! I think first, I’d have to say my mom. She taught me what feminism was and how important it is to be my own independent person. Second, Marsha Guenzler-Stevens, the current Director of the Stamp Student Union. Her Women’s Leadership class was one of the most inspiring classes I’ve ever taken, and I strive to be like her every day. Third, I’d have to say all of my ADPi sisters, because I couldn’t pick just one. Even as an alum I’m constantly amazed at the things the chapter is doing, and I’m always inspired by my sisters’ own philanthropic and leadership efforts.