“Wellesley is the most powerful women’s network in the world.” From the moment you step on campus — or, more likely, from the moment you hear about Wellesley — you’ll know this phrase. The Hive, which launched in 2017, continues to provide a platform for the over 35,000 alumnae to connect with current students and one another.
But, as Ashira Beutler-Greene emphasizes, connections between students and alumnae can also develop unexpectedly. So many alumnae are excited to share their stories with current students and offer guidance, whether in the long-term or short-term.
On Sunday, Nov. 10, Beutler-Greene, class of 2007 returned to Wellesley to host a coffee chat, where she shared her story and offered a space for group discussion. On the broader idea of unpredictability following a liberal arts education, she catered her advice to attendees, encouraging students to think about their skills and passions rather than the confines of a major or career path.
Following an unexpected circuit from an arts background to working with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Beutler-Greene has valuable advice for applying a liberal arts education to almost any career. No matter what you pursue, she emphasizes, cultivating conversations and relationships early on is crucial to career-related success.
Beutler-Greene initially hoped to leave college with a double major in creative writing and Eastern European Studies. Despite the fact that Wellesley offered neither, she chose to attend because she admired how students carried themselves and showed a willingness to “articulate the benefits of their [school] and what they were studying.”
Through a major in English, a minor in sociology and a teaching certificate, Beutler-Greene was able to combine her wish to work creatively with her interest in education. She also holds a Ph.D. in education from the University College London and a Masters in literary and cultural studies from Carnegie Mellon University.
“If you can write, it doesn’t matter the topic,” says Beutler-Greene, who has also made a career in the science world using her perspective as a writer and educator. Every organization, especially ones with a STEM focus, needs outside perspectives for effective communication of complex ideas to the public. Job qualifications exist for a reason, but can also serve as arbitrary gatekeepers and so Beutler-Greene argues that it’s important to be honest about your skills and experience but not let them limit you.
The skills Beutler-Greene has gained throughout her career so far have transferred to surprising opportunities and she knows she’s not alone. She advises current students to pursue the things they’re interested in and to understand that the skills they gain from their courses can open doors in almost any field.
In her current role as Program Associate at the AAAS, Beutler-Greene is involved in all stages with their Annual Meeting program which will next occur February 13-16, 2020. Next year’s theme is Envisioning Tomorrow’s Earth, which she says aims to answer the following question: “How can science and technology and the people involved […] innovate, creatively problem solve, react and […] contribute to solutions for dealing with those issues?” She also leads the Film and Podcasting programs, Expo Stage and Technology Showcase and is committed to featuring diverse perspectives on science through these creative channels.
Even though she reached out to Wellesley students through her recent event, Beutler-Greene also stresses the importance of students doing so themselves. Whether they are the class of 1957 or 2007, Wellesley alumnae have insights from not only their college experience, but also from a lifetime of interactions, experiences and jobs that they’re excited to share, even if they don’t come to campus or enter The Hive.
Life at Wellesley can be a lot of things, whether that’s exciting, stressful or somewhere in between. After graduation, it’s unlikely that much will change in that regard. A dozen years after she left Wellesley, Beutler-Greene easily remembers the professors and other mentors who helped her along the way. Reach out now and you’ll be surprised what can happen.
Though a career will be made of many formal milestones — degrees,
internships, jobs — informal conversations and experiences will also carve this path. Whether you’re majoring in economics, studio art or are entirely undecided, you’ll find your path from Wellesley. Making the most of your experience here can mean whatever you want it to, but Beutler-Greene wants you to know that you shouldn’t be afraid of reaching out.