Alumni in the Field

Jeff Richardson
STU Degree: BA ’01
Major: English
Job Title: Executive Director for the United Way
Location: Fredericton, NB

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
At United Way of Central New Brunswick we work to improve lives and build community by engaging individuals and mobilizing collective action for change. As Executive Director of the charity, I’m responsible for the overall leadership of the organization.  This includes the development and implementation of strategies, programs, and partnerships with over 35 community organizations that achieve our goals of building strong communities, helping kids, and reducing poverty right here in Central New Brunswick, as well as oversight of our annual fundraising campaign which raises an average of $1.3 million per year.

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
Work in the charity and non-profit field is complex. No one individual or organization will be able to address our province’s most pressing issues; we will only be able to build stronger and healthier futures for our community by working together. As such, I would not recommend any one degree program, rather an academic path that will provide an opportunity to work through complex problem-solving with your peers – the kind of thing that is the essence of the liberal arts experience. Further, co-curricular experiences such as the Student United Way, the Students’ Union, or any other initiative in which you have the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to community projects with other students would be of great value!

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
Through my experiences at STU, I learned about collective impact before I really knew what that meant. Whether it was in the classroom, on stage with Theatre St. Thomas, or through work with the Students’ Union, I learned how individuals and communities can come together to effect positive change.  In my experience, a community that provides that kind of mentorship and leadership experience is rare—STU is where I learned to think critically, to write, to work in teams. These have been critical skills for my work with the United Way.

Matthew Johnson
STU Degree: BA ’04, BSW ‘13
Major: Science and Technology Studies; Bachelor of Social Work
Job Title: Settlement Worker and Francophone-Community Liaison Worker at the MACF
Location: Fredericton, NB

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
I am responsible for integrating newcomers to Canada into the francophone education system and francophone social life in Fredericton. I do quite a bit of youth programming and I expect to have a role in helping settle many Syrian families over the next few months.

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
I am a realist when it comes to the future of work. I did not assume that there was a job waiting for me when I graduated. In fact, I assumed the opposite was true based on insights into the trend toward the automation of work, the fragility of the current economic system and the unsustainability of the "business as usual model." The entire way through my degree I focused on very down-to-earth problems which need immediate solutions and made use of free-market principles to disrupt monopolies and to achieve social aims. For this I would recommend hands-on courses that teach concrete skills (like bicycle mechanics or electronics) as well as a solid grounding in macro-economics and social enterprise. However, I stress that it is not so important to take these courses at school. Rather it is better to take liberal arts in order to learn how to learn so you can teach yourself, develop confidence and thrive in New Brunswick's vibrant amateur economy. Also, do what you love and figure out how it can help others and put food in your belly.

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
Having majored in Science and Technology Studies, I came to appreciate the speed with which our world has changed over the past 100 years and began to understand just how big the problems of tomorrow will be. This led me inevitably to seek my quickest possible entry into the workforce in order to address converging social, economic and environmental crisis in the trenches of our community as a professional social worker. There is a lot of work to be done to make our communities more resilient in the difficult times to come. I will repeat, liberal arts can help you learn how to learn and how to communicate what you have learned. It will give you a clear understanding of the problems and suffering in the world, and if you choose a professional program after, you will begin to see what you can do about it right now.