Admitted students experienced Birmingham-Southern at the Select 'Southern event held on March 1-2, 2015.
English majors are adept at imagining creative and innovative solutions to longstanding problems. Many of our graduates have found meaningful and successful careers in the field of "organized philanthropy." As organizational directors and managers of outreach and development, our alumni apply their critical thinking and writing skills in the service of positive social change.
"As an English Major I learned to think and write critically, to do my research (and then do some more), to analyze a problem or challenge from all sides, and to approach my work in a thorough, detail-oriented way."
Meredith Nguyen, Class of 2006
Associate Director of Development, San Francisco and Marin Food Banks
When I was in college I had no idea what sort of career path I wanted to take. I pursued an English major because I was passionate about writing and Literature, and I just hoped my career would figure itself out later. As an English Major I learned to think and write critically, to do my research (and then do some more), to analyze a problem or challenge from all sides, and to approach my work in a thorough, detail-oriented way. In small ways and big ways, these skills have helped me significantly both personally and professionally since I left BSC.
After college, I worked for a small organization called Alabama Giving, and I began to learn the basics of grant-writing and continued to grow my research and communications skills. Shortly thereafter, I left for Chile to study Hispanic Literature on a Rotary Scholarship. When I returned to the states, I knew that I wanted to do something I was passionate about, so I looked for entry level jobs in non-profit organizations. I knew of the Food Bank from my time in San Francisco during a Service Learning Interim my senior year, so I applied and was hired as their Executive Assistant.
After a short period of time, I was promoted to work on the Grant Writing team. I felt like I had somehow lucked into the perfect career for myself. I got to write about a cause I was passionate about while raising money to help make a tangible impact in the community. Over time, my role grew and evolved, and I took on increased responsibilities and more leadership in our organization.
Now as the Associate Director of Development, I oversee three teams (Community Engagement, Institutional Giving, and Data and Donor Services) as a part of our development department. This year our department will raise over $14 million, making it possible for the Food Bank to distribute enough food for 100,000 meals each day to more than 225,000 low-income individuals in San Francisco and Marin.
I don't think that the BSC English Major prepared me for any specific career track. Instead the English Faculty gave me the self-awareness and skills I needed to adapt and take advantage of the varying opportunities that have been presented to me throughout my young career. They also always encouraged me to continue pursuing my passions, and those pursuits have never led me astray. For all of these reasons and more, I will always be grateful for my time as an English Major at BSC!
Erin Stephenson, Class of 2001
Vice President, Development
Erin was the featured speaker at BSC's Honors Day Convocation in 2012. She told students that their education has prepared them to tackle life's challenges, and that her own experience on campus helped her achieve success in community development and philanthropy, as well as in building relationships.
During her time on the Hilltop, she was active in service-learning projects that took her down the road to Fairfield and halfway around the world to Cambine, Mozambique, Africa. Erin joined the Community Foundation staff in 2005, and since then, she has facilitated gifts totaling more than $50 million, including the largest gift ever by a donor to the foundation of $5 million.
Her professional experience also includes membership in the Rotaract Club of Birmingham and 2012 class of Leadership UAB, and she serves on the YWCA's Junior Board as well as the board of the Alabama Planned Giving Council.