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For the Class of 2021: affectionate words of wisdom from long-serving Carleton staff

Many staff members at Carleton have offered decades of service to our school and to its students. In advance of the class of 2021’s graduation, these small pieces of advice for our graduating seniors have been collected from some of the college’s longest-serving staff.

While few staff get to stand at the front of a classroom, they still watch our students work and grow and are deeply invested in their happiness and success.

The staff members quoted below represent many different divisions of the college, but all of them have given more than 25 years of service to Carleton students and to the Carleton community as a whole.

CATHY CARLSON

Associate Dean of Students

Take 10 uninterrupted minutes (or more) each day to allow yourself time for reflection and calm. This simple task can make a positive difference in your daily life. “May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be well. May you be peaceful and at ease. May you be happy.” 

— Buddhist blessing  

Best wishes to the class of 2021.

ELISE ESLINGER

Vice President and Chief of Staff

Don’t lose your spirit of curiosity. Try at least one completely new thing each year; you may come across something that becomes a lifelong passion or outlet. Never underestimate the power of compound interest – especially if you begin saving when you’re young. Start the process of budgeting and saving a little each month right away, and pay attention to what happens to it over time. You won’t regret it! If having a family is part of your life plan, know that it’s way easier to juggle life and graduate school if you go to school before you have kids. Finally, return for your Carleton reunions. Even in the years you’re not sure you have time or you don’t feel your life has been impressive enough to share, just come back. You will find grounding here.

TODD HILDEBRANDT

Special Custodian, Athletics

Remember that every day is a “school day” – learn something new each day.

ERIC HILLEMANN

Senior Associate in Archives

It’s hard to offer advice to graduating seniors without sounding like all you’re doing is echoing a hundred stock commencement addresses, but honestly there are real pearls in many of the clichés. So: Learning never stops – embrace experiences that foster that. Inevitably, mistakes or missteps lie ahead; know that you can learn and grow at least as much from them as from your successes. Don’t be afraid of difficult things. Do “good work” —by which I mean something not limited to job or career work, but something through which you can align a significant portion of your energies with your passions; therein lies a good recipe for personal happiness. Also, “your passions” may well be yet to be discovered. Discover them. You may be surprised.

JOE HARGIS

Associate Vice President for External Relations

Assume the good in everyone—it makes life a lot more pleasurable and interesting. Work hard and be generous. The best opportunities will be the ones you never see coming.

JILL HOELZEL-LANDSTEINER

Project & Relief Custodian

Take chances – you may win some and lose some, but you’ll never wonder about the “what ifs.” Be kind and help people out. If you see someone in a store struggling to buy groceries, help them out. Life is great – laugh often. Make lots of friends and they will help you in your times of need.

PAULA LACKIE

Academic Technologist, ITS

If you’re looking for a job, talk with everybody. Be friendly, curious, and listen —let them know you’re looking and keep up with whatever contact information you share. Be introspective—reflect on your coursework and general experiences at Carleton: which things left you feeling energized and ready for more? Which left you fulfilled – but also drained? These are clues as to what kinds of work will excite you and also things that can bring sustainable happiness. Anticipate a peculiar slump in your first job at about 12 weeks in (ideally, work won’t end after 10 weeks!) Also, please tell your work-study supervisors about the things they did and taught you that turned out to be useful (or problematic!) in your post-Carleton lives; we enjoy hearing from you and want to keep our advice relevant. Lastly, a piece of advice attributed to the 14th Dalai Lama: “Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”

TAMI LITTLE

Administrative Assistant, Chemistry and Geology

The work you did as a student worker helped departments in more ways than you may have realized. When the day comes that you find yourself as a person in a high position, remember what it was like to be one of the people now under you. Make it a priority to treat them with respect and kindness and to reward hard work. The payback will be worth it. And, don’t forget us back in Northfield. We would love to meet up with you anytime you come back.

ANNA MAY

Senior Curriculum and Scheduling Associate, Registrar’s Office

Do the good stuff; don’t wait. And always be nice to people—hopefully, they’ll be nice right back!

MIKKI SHOWERS

Director of Campus Recreation

If you have crazy friends, you have everything! Value the interconnections that come from being active and social.

NANCY STUCKMAYER

Aerobics Instructor, Phys Ed, Athletics, and Recreation

Attitude is everything. If the day is cloudy, you can’t make it sunny—but you can try to make it a good day anyway. Always try to start your day with a good attitude and be thankful for what you have.

MARY TATGE

Administrative Assistant, French & Francophone Studies, Spanish

Be willing to start at the bottom – you will learn and grow at a greater rate than by starting at the top. Learn from everything and everyone.

MELISSA THOMAS

Operations Coordinator, Center for Community and Civic Engagement

Always be grateful. Remember that you have received a wonderful education at Carleton. Make the most of it, and continue to work hard toward the goals you’ve set. Be thankful, and appreciate every bit of assistance you receive along the way. Do your best and keep getting up every time you fall. The way may not be easy, but you will be successful if you continue to strive for better things.

JAN TRUAX

Administrative Assistant, Chaplain’s Office

Stop waiting for Friday, for summer, for someone to fall in love with you, for life. Stop waiting, and make the most of every single day.

BECKY ZRIMSECK

Assistant Vice President for External Relations

Use the alumni network! Most Carls want to help fellow alumni, whether it’s advice about networking or jobs, grad school, or recommendations for a new city.

STEVEN HANSON

Security Officer

I’ll quote Sheryl Sandberg: “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask which seat. Just get on.”

RUSS PETRICKA

Supervisor of the Math Skills Center

When I graduated from college, I joined the Peace Corps and after my two years of service, I returned to the United States, determined to continue a life of service back in the U.S. As you graduate, I hope you all find work that will set your sails toward a fulfilling lifestyle.

CARLEEN THURNBLAD

Administrative Assistant for Diversity and Outreach Programs, Admissions

Your time is limited; don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking – don’t let their noise drown out your own inner voice. Most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition; they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. Be kind and never forget where you came from—we all have a story to tell. Surround yourself with people who will listen unconditionally without being judgmental. Those are true friends—treasure them.

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