Building lifelong alumni connections at Gettysburg College

Overhead image of Gettysburg Colege in the Fall

When I was researching colleges, I was looking for a place to call home that provides a strong sense of community and support. Not only are you choosing a place to learn and grow for the next four years, but you are investing in your future.

Reflecting on my college search, I realized that being a first-generation American with minimal exposure to the American higher education system made this process nerve-wracking yet thrilling. I was able to find my way to Gettysburg College with the help and support of friends and family.

Lara Spina ’94, a close family friend, advised me to visit Gettysburg after I expressed an interest in a liberal arts and sciences education. The school piqued my interest after hearing about her experience at Gettysburg and all the great connections the school provided long after her time here. Once I stepped foot on campus and learned about the strong alumni network, I was sold.

Coming to Gettysburg College

Image of Madeleine Bergier and Lara Cutro-Spina
Lara Cutro-Spina ’94 and Madeleine-Reynita Bergier ’22 supporting the Gettysburg women’s basketball team.

As I entered my first year at Gettysburg, I quickly learned that my relationship with Spina was not unique. Almost every student on this campus had a connection with fellow alumni who impacted their college experience. Whether these alumni are family, friends, or mere acquaintances, each one has a story about how Gettysburg’s strong academics, community-oriented environment, and key programs have helped influence their life trajectory and career path. These alumni are everywhere—from your hometown to across the globe—and they are always keen to help.

The summer before my first year, I met Annie McDonald ’14, an alumna of the College who works in New York City. She was enthusiastic to set up a coffee date with me to learn about the start of my college experience and how she could help advise me for the next four years. Not only did she make me comfortable about the future, but she made me excited to meet other alumni, hear about their endeavors, and begin networking for the future.

The biggest piece of advice I took from this interaction was that Gettysburg’s tight-knit community continues to grow even after you graduate. Whether or not you meet with alumni who were physically there at the same time as you, each and every one wants to give back, learn more about your experience, and guide you in any way possible.

Connecting with the Center for Career Engagement

Gettysburg’s Center for Career Engagement (CCE) is a great resource on our campus that helps prepare students for the real world. It connects students to alumni and parents of the College dedicated to assisting students find opportunities for internships, externships, and other career experiences.

Throughout my time at Gettysburg, I have used CCE for resume-writing, cover letter assistance, LinkedIn tips, and advice. They help you execute these crucial aspects of landing a great job and also access a network of alumni with work experience in every industry. It’s evident CCE is here to help support current students during their transition to the workforce.

Personally, CCE has provided me beneficial learning experiences through their externship program. With this opportunity, I reached out to Beth Ritchey ’85, who also studied psychology. Ritchey now works as a client partner in the technology sector at Ipsos, an international market research firm. During the two-day externship program, I saw how the theories and concepts of social and cognitive psychology are used in the business world. This experience opened a new door to me, allowing me to understand the array of career paths provided with an educational background in psychology. Not only did I learn more applications of psychology in the corporate world, but I also met five other alumni working in that office.

Alumni have varied experiences, whether that be a field of study, co-curriculars, or even graduation year, but as Gettysburgians, we each share our love for a liberal arts and sciences education. This shared love gives us the ability to reflect on individual opportunities and experiences available on this campus that helped shaped us into strong critical thinkers who are ready to take on the real world.

The people you meet during your time at Gettysburg will serve as resources during your time here and later join you as a part of the alumni network. These passionate Gettysburgians will be there to support you and fellow alumni with any career advice and recommendations needed. I’ve come to realize the importance and strength of the Gettysburg Network throughout my college experience, and I hope you do too.

By Madeleine-Reynita Bergier ’22, psychology major and double minor in French and business
Photos by Miranda Harple and courtesy of Madeleine-Reynita Bergier ’22
Posted: 09/28/21