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Wingo to Leave

By Alicia Dondo Nancie Wingo, director of alumni relations, has decided to move on from the college. Over the past three years, I have come to know her as a friend, mentor and colleague; I met with her to talk about her work and experiences here at St. John’s over the past three years. How did your career at St. John’s College begin? I had been vacationing in New Mexico for about 18 years and loved the state, especially Santa Fe. In 2008, it seemed like it was the right time for me to move to Santa Fe. I first heard of St. John’s from a friend of my parents who is a graduate and I became enamoured by the program. So, I decided to visit both campuses and applied for the newly created position for the Director of Alumni Relations in Santa Fe. How have you seen your role and the alumni office evolving through the time you have been here? When I started the job in June 2009, the office was located on the lower level of Weigle, but they moved it upstairs for greater visibility. This made it easier for people to even know that the office existed. I feel that now, people have a greater understanding of what we do in Alumni Relations. I have come to know Johnnies as people who value the kinds of interesting conversations that are part of what we do at St. John’s, so wherever alumni end up, they crave the same kinds of conversations. So, over the years, the college’s support of alumni network chapters nationally and internationally has increased. Moreover, career networking between students and Alumni has also been developed, be it for internship connections or help with communicating what students do at the college. What has been the most challenging part of your job? It has to be finding alumni. When I came to the college, there was no collegewide database. However, in the last three years, we have made a lot of gains finding people through social media. In this process, the college has made a transition from waiting for alumni to find us, to being more active in connecting alumni to the college through Facebook, Linkedin and Agora. There has also been a misunderstanding that the Alumni Relations office is only concerned with getting money from alumni, but the office has a much more fundamental role which is to make deep connections between the college and alumns and to continue supporting johnnies long after they leave. For example, alumni can reach us to find a new job or for support in relocating to new cities through connections to other alumni. What has been the high-

light of your tenure here? Seeing how Homecoming has grown and how it brings the college together. It used to be in the summers, but moving the event to the Fall brings alumni, students, the administration, tutors and the Santa Fe community together in a way that was not possible before. In fact, for this year’s Homecoming, the Santa Fe community is invited to join us in the panel discussion on the college. I love to see this celebration of the college. The development of the Alumni Leadership Forum (ALF) through collaboration with the Alumni Association Board is another highlight. In June 2013, we will have the fourth ALF. What makes this event special is that it is the only truly college-wide assembly of alumni from both campuses including both graduate and undergraduate alumns, working together for the sustainability of the college. It is also important to note that when you graduate, you are an alumn of St. John’s College, not Santa Fe or Annapolis. Even though, I am based on the Santa Fe campus, I serve all alumns regardless of what campus they attended. Bocce has been a personal favourite of mine, having developed from a work retreat I went to when I first came. It seemed like the perfect game for this campus to own as its own in a similar way that croquet is the tradition of the Annapolis campus. While we are the same college, it is also important to celebrate the differences that exist between the campuses which make the college experience rich. What motivated you to move on and what is the next phase of your career? For the past seven years, I have been learning and reading about life-coaching. It became clear to me that the work I have done already has been about empowering people. Being a life coach is similar, but it is more advancing the individual as opposed to an institution like St. John’s. An opportunity arose in that field in Virginia and I decided to give it a shot. As I am an alumn, having started the GI program, I intend on continuing my involvement with the College through the Richmond alumni chapter. I have met a lot of interesting and honest people at St. John’s and hope to keep in touch with them too. What do you think St. John’s should be thinking about with respect to alumni relations going forward? The college needs to be bolder and louder about telling the world what it does. We are such a small college and there are not enough people who know and appreciate what the graduates from here can do. Any advice for students? Do not wait too long to ask for help. There are a lot of successful alumni who want to help students find their way when they graduate. Don’t be embarrassed for your education just because it’s not conventional. Be proud and vocal about this amazing education. Also, just make a start somewhere when you graduate and do not be afraid to change a job, if it does not suit you. Get to know more people here- the people in Weigle are very friendly and go to Wonder Woman Workout! Alicia Dondo is a Senior at St. John’s, Santa Fe. She can be reached at asdondo@sjcsf.edu

NEWS

OCTOBER 1, 2012

Three New Tutors Ms. Sarah Davis:

Let’s start with an obvious question. What attracted you to becoming a tutor at St. John’s? So. I think it has to do with an experience of learning that is not just- I’ll start with the obvious stuff too- that is not just the acquisition of facts that are out there, it’s not just about acquiring information, it’s about experiencing a part of your humanness. So it’s both form and content. You are getting information, but the way in which that’s happening is, from my point of view, putting you in touch with your greatest human possibility. So, when you come out of class really excited, the idea is that the character of that experience makes you feel more alive. I think that’s what a good education is really about and I want to be part of a place where that value is cherished explicitly, as it is here at St. John’s. What do you think of Santa Fe so far? I think it’s really beautiful. I’m from the Northeast originally, but I’ve lived in a lot of places during the last ten or fifteen years. It’s really dry here, which is really different from what I’m used to and is sometimes a little shocking. But it’s so stunning. I think that there is something about the breadth and the sky and the colors here that make it feel not so hot and breathless as it might otherwise. And I love the breeze here, which is something that I always notice in places. I like that it’s a small town. Especially with two young kids, it feels really manageable. We’re still figuring it out, but it feels really good so far. My husband, our two kids and I drove here across the desert from Berkeley, Ca., which gives me a huge appreciation for where we, in kind of an oasis at the edge of these beautiful mountains. Could you tell me a little bit about what it’s been like to be a tutor so far? I love it. I definitely love it. I’m trying to think how I should answer this. [laughs] So, the first couple of weeks have been about translating what we’ve been talking about, which is this great notion of education, into the reality, which is ... Messier? Yeah, messier, and ... when one thinks hard about an idea on one’s own, I find that there’s a slow, churning process, filled with false starts, which I really enjoy. And we’re going through that process together. And I’ve realized that doing it together creates all kinds of challenges, and those are what it’s my job to figure out. [pause] I accept and am excited about that challenge, and I’m not sure that I knew it quite as well until I got into the classroom. So it’s been enlightening, and I feel challenged. I kind of know where it needs to go; I see those things that I didn’t see, and I’m excited about it.

talented singer-songwriter. His music can be found at www.davidberkeley.com. You are encouraged to check it out.

Ms. Marsaura Shukla Where were you born? Where’d you grow up? “I was born in India, lived there till I was 11, but then I spent my teenage years in New York on Long Island”. You attended St. John’s originally, yes? When and where did you attend? “Well, I started in ‘89, ‘89‘90, my freshman year and I graduated in ‘93. I started here in Santa Fe my freshman year here and I transferred to Annapolis my sophomore year and I just stayed.” What made you come to

least, not the fundamentalist churches, they’ve let go of the notion of the Holy Spirit directly influencing; they accept that the Bible was written by humans. So then the question becomes: How is it sacred? And how they want to keep it sacred. So it’s theologians wrestling with that and being affected by modern notions of reading and that’s what I was investigating. What was it like going to a “traditional” university after St. John’s? It was incredibly difficult. There’s a certain kind of sorrow that I noticed my friends felt when leaving St. John’s; sort of re-entering the world, and I felt that acutely in grad school. Even people who weren’t in grad school felt that. Re-entering the kind of classroom where somebody is standing up front and lecturing and you’re raising your hand to speak, it was strange. And the professionalizing and specializing emphasis of grad school struck me as very odd. Since you are an alumni of St. John’s, what’s the dichotomy like being a tutor now after being a student here and at grad school? The one thing I have been surprised by is how great I think the students are, now. And when I was a student, I remember walking out of classes sometimes thinking, ‘Oh my God, that was a useless conversation!’ and I don’t ever walk out of classes thinking that now. I’m amazed at the level of enthusiasm and responsibility for the material that the students have in the conversations. I hear stories, from friends of mine in the trenches teaching at various schools, some good and some bad, how there’s a sense that students at other places blame their professors a little bit when they don’t understand them. It’s the professor that’s supposed to make things understood, and here people approach it as a joint effort. They really do and I think it’s great. Your kids are a big hit on campus, and all who see them just go into fits of joy. How are they adjusting to Santa Fe and the community here? [laughs] I’m so glad! I feel that living on campus is working well for me because the students are just wonderful babysitters. I think my older one, Jonah, he’s 3, really enjoys having people around and Phoebe likes being passed around from person to person. So I think it’s really great and I appreciate just how welcoming everybody has been to my kids, I wasn’t sure that would be the case, and it has been and it’s great.

So, when you come out of class really excited, the idea is that the character of that experience makes you feel more alive. St. John’s? You know, my partner asked me that question today, and I just got a catalogue in the mail. I read it, and I don’t know if this is still the case, around your Junior year in high school, you get inundated with letters from all these schools and I had always thought I was going to go to an Ivy League school, Brown, but I got the St. John’s catalogue and I read the questions, and I was just so taken by the seriousness of the application questions compared from the other application questions that I just kind of, was very impressed and fell in love with the idea of that these books are the teachers and working through the canon, I think in my application, I said some-

It’s the professor that’s supposed to make things understood, and here people approach it as a joint effort.

Ms. Davis’s husband is a

thing ridiculous like, ‘I want to know everything’. What was your senior thesis on? The Gospel of John. It was call Philip’s Request. It was about the notion of an invisible God and the divinity of Jesus and how those two are related. So, Philip asked at one point, “Jesus, show us the father, and we will be satisfied.” And Jesus says “Have I been with you so long that you do not know me?” and so it was just understanding that puzzle. Where did you get your Ph.D? What was your dissertation on? I started at Thornton University in Biblical Studies, took years off in between, and then I switched to the University of Chicago to do Theology and left Biblical Studies behind. My dissertation was about how changing conceptions of reading and the reader affect how people see the Bible as a sacred text. A lot of it is mostly cultural -- there’s this weird lack of personal involvement and yet this high standard that is held for it. In the mainstream churches at

Ann Hooper is a Junior at St. John’s College, Santa Fe. She can be reached at ann.hooper@sjcsf. edu Julius Ostby is a Freshman at St. John’s College, Santa Fe. He can be reached at jrostby@sjcsf.edu Matthew Parada is a Freshman at St. John’s College, Santa Fe. He can be reached at mgparada@ sjcsf.edu


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