When alumna Bonnie McEwan graduated from Geneseo in 1973, she was faced with a conundrum most students can relate to: her future.
"I really didn't want to teach," said McEwan, who was an English and secondary education major. "It wasn't for me."
Instead, McEwan let the forces of fate guide her. "I believe in serendipity in one's career," she said. After college, McEwan followed her husband, a fellow alumnus, to her hometown of Elmira, N.Y., where he had found work. There, McEwan obtained a copywriting job in advertising at WENY, a local television and radio station.
"It was really this huge gift that the universe gave me," McEwan said. "I didn't think that you could make a living writing."
In 1979 McEwan decided to move to New York City, where she obtained freelance writing jobs and eventually held several positions in the public relations field for organizations such as the Girl Scouts of America and Planned Parenthood.
"I built this career in marketing and communications in the non-profit sector," she said. Today, McEwan runs Make Waves Not Noise, a marketing firm for non-profit organizations, and is a visiting lecturer for The New School's graduate program in non-profit management.
McEwan credits her undergraduate education for a part of her success. "My education in English has proven to be very versatile," she said, noting that as an employer, she finds that candidates are better off having a well-rounded background as opposed to a narrow specialization. "Any job you do, you have to be very good at communicating."
McEwan said that her time as an undergraduate at Geneseo provided her with a solid foundation. "I got a great education at Geneseo without paying a lot of money," she said. "I had really amazing teachers," she added, citing English professors Walter Harding and Ron Herzman as two examples.
As a student, McEwan lived with two other roommates in Steuben Hall, and said she still maintains contact with several women who lived on her floor at the time.
"Because you're still becoming who you are and figuring out what you believe in, the friendships you make a very strong," she said. McEwan also remembers the creation of on-campus radio station WGSU and feeling like a part of the campus during the politically tumultuous 1970s.
"It was a great time but also a very challenging time," she said. "Geneseo was a safe place where people cared about you. They didn't constrain you, but they were there if you needed them."