The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Turning Your Passion Into Your Living with a Liberal Arts Degree

17X,Summer Conference

During the conference, students were able to network with young alumni about translating one's interests into careers. (Photo by Seamore Zhu) 

17X, Summer Conference

The conference's panel of alumni from the Classes of 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 with Rockefeller Center Deputy Director Sadhana Hall. (Photo by Seamore Zhu) 

Article Type 

On Friday, August 4th, the Rockefeller Center hosted a one-day conference entitled “How to Make Your Passion Your Living with a Liberal Arts Degree.” The purpose of the conference was to help students learn how to translate their interests into careers that have meaning and impact.

Puja Devi ’19 values a liberal arts degree “because it encourages me to both delve into my interests as well as explore fields I might not favor as much.” Even though she is a government major, she has taken classes in sociology and women’s and gender studies, studied abroad in India, and is currently searching for research projects in geography.

The conference featured remarks from Rebecca Biron, Dean of the College, about the versatility of a liberal arts degree as well as six young alumni.

Rey Allie ’11 studied Government and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. He has developed insights to help Uber expand into new markets across the world, expanded the scope and reach of Google’s Intelligence and Investigations team, and currently advises senior leaders on strategic initiatives and opportunities at OfferUp.

Rembert Brown ’09 was a Sociology major with a minor in Geography and Public Policy. Since graduation, he has worked for the NYC Department of Transportation, wrote for the website Grantland, and became a writer-at-large at New York Magazine.

An anthropology major, Maura Cass ’10 uses her major to make sense of new environments, cultures, communities, organizations and people. She is currently a senior design researcher and project lead at IDEO.

Joan Leslie ’12 majored in Government and African and African American Studies. Since graduation, she worked with a non-profit organization doing grassroots organizing. She currently works in corporate funding and consulting for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Utham Olagoke ’11 majored in Government and Sociology. He is currently a manager with 100 Resilient Cities, an initiative pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation that helps cities around the world become more resilient to challenges of the 21st century. Previously, he worked with a civictech platform and management consulting firm.

A Mathematics major with a minor in Spanish Literature, Jessica Wheeler Tranchino ’10 works with Curriculum Associates where she oversees staff development for 230 consultants and operations. After Dartmouth, she earned her MBA and MA in Education from Stanford University.

The panelists were able to explore their passions outside of their fields. Devi said, “I believe a liberal arts education is more wholesome, because it allows one to make connections over multiple disciplines, which I have experienced myself.”

-Written by Celeste Kearney ’19, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant for Communications.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences