Alumni Spotlight

Becca Ackerman

Meet one of our outstanding alumni  of Class of 2018.

Current position: Hero Adviser-Wilson High School, Tacoma WA

What peaked your interest in pursuing a career in education and student affairs?
My interest in pursuing a career in education and student affairs stems from my own personal experiences as a low-income, first generation college graduate. Learning how to navigate the higher education system by myself was challenging- there are still many processes that are difficult for me to grasp. A career path such as this will allow me to provide systematic change and address foundational gaps in our education system; gaps that have disproportionately affected low-income, first generation, and people of color.

How have you utilized your sociological knowledge and skills in your advisor position?
I utilize my sociological knowledge in my current role in many ways, the primary way being to provide compassion and understanding to my students. Having a sociological perspective allows me to understand underlying processes that are impacting my students, whether that be concerning grades, attendance, or behavior issues. I can step back and understand why something is the way it is and understand on a deeper level why my students operate the way that they do. My degree has allowed me to passionately introduce the world of sociology to my students, and really provide them with a different perspective and framework for how to view themselves and the world around them.

What do you find most exciting about working with high schools’ students?
In my current role, I work with 9th and 10th grade students to provide them with college and career exposure. I find that students in this age range crave consistency and compassion. Being able to be a support system allows me to form unique relationships with them and get to know them on a deeper level. I love introducing them to new career pathways and colleges that they may have never heard before. For most students, this is the first time someone has exposed them to college and career and has told them that they have the capacity to achieve great things.

What are your future career goals?
Currently, I love my role providing direct services to students, but realistically big changes happen at the systematic level, so I plan on transitioning into the higher education setting as my professional career develops. Specifically, I plan on working in a role that aims to help bridge academic and social gaps that many low-income first-generation students face when pursuing higher education. I plan on doing work that places more responsibility on the K-12 and higher education settings to provide direct support to students during the transitional periods of education, such as 8th grade to 9th grade, and 12th grade to freshman year at college.

Alexandra Donnici

Alexandra Donnici is taking part in the prestigious Washington State Legislative Internship Program in Olympia in spring 2020.

What peaked your interest for applying to this particular internship opportunity?
At first when I heard about this internship I didn’t intend on applying because I had never considered working in politics, and I don’t consider it one of my strengths. As I got to thinking, I realized that the things I’m interested in within sociology, like prisoner reentry and rehabilitation, can always benefit from advocacy at the government level. I figured at the very least I could take this as a learning opportunity to gain exposure to something I might not have another opportunity to experience. I initially thought that I had extremely low chances of getting in because I’m not the typical candidate, but those differences ended up being why the Senate decided to take me on!

What are you most looking forward to concerning this internship opportunity?
I’m looking forward to really launching myself outside of my comfort zone. I know I am going to face a pretty steep learning curve, but I’m excited and ready for the challenge. I’m also excited to do some networking and possibly explore some other career opportunities that I haven’t previously considered. It will also be extremely rewarding to be able to do research, draft talking points, and work on things that impact the state of Washington, not just my academic portfolio.

How will this internship opportunity help in terms of your career focus?
This internship will either show me what I don’t want to do as a career, or it will open a ton of doors for me (depending on how much I enjoy it). I am optimistic that I’ll end up thriving in the legislative environment though because I’ve always had a knack for leadership. Ideally, the connections I make here in Olympia will help guide me into a career where I can advocate for positive change in the criminal justice system and increased funding in programs that will reduce recidivism rates.