In fact, hundreds of Beloit students have contemplated this question over the past 15 years through the program, which pairs a hands-on placement with a community organization and an academically rigorous, community-based sociology course.
To celebrate the program’s anniversary, four Duffy alumni returned to Beloit for a March panel discussion. They answered questions on any number of subjects, including the meaningful experiences they had beyond the classroom as students themselves.
Phil Mangis’05 talked about working at Beloit City Hall with the late Steve Gregg’80, the assistant city manager at the time. The two worked on reciprocity—on how both parties get something out of a project. Today, Mangis is director of international operations for The School for Field Studies, a non-profit in Massachusetts that trains and sends 550 students around the world annually to work on critically important environmental projects.
Ruby Jennings’10 recalled her Duffy placement with Neighborhood Housing Services in Beloit at the height of the foreclosure crisis. She sat in on financial counseling sessions with families trying to formulate budgets to help them save their homes. “The experience made me realize how organizations can help stabilize communities,” she said. Jennings is a senior research analyst for IMPAQ International, which evaluates public programs and policies.
Alumni were also asked to define a good society, from their current perspectives. “Relationships make a good society,” said Iris Hoover’09. “Build relationships as quickly as possible to discover shared goals.” Hoover works with many diverse high schools in her role as Connector of Purpose, Strategy, and Change with the Princeton Review, the college admissions prep company.
When students questioned alumni on their career trajectories, Raphael Gang’06 advised them that “thinking about your goals is most important. Don’t worry about the plan, worry about the planning.” Gang is Director of Pathways for 4.0 Schools, an organization that exists to drive innovation in American education.
Carol Wickersham, a sociologist and the college’s director of community-based learning, coordinates the Duffy Community Partnerships. The program is named for alumnus James Duffy’49, former president of ABC.