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Counselor Newsletter

Triton Times: Eckerd College's Counselor Newsletter, Issue 7

Department Highlight

Human Development

Envision yourself at a social gathering. Professionals start talking about their fields of study. You may hear fields such as Biology, English, Psychology, or Environmental Studies perhaps. How often do you hear Human Development? Chances are probably not that often, but Eckerd College does offer this interdisciplinary major, combining various fields of study.

With over 38 majors to choose from, Human Development is often under looked at Eckerd College. This major encompasses the ideals of education, psychology, sociology, anthropology and ethics. It is a great interdisciplinary major that complements the ideals of a true liberal arts education, and integrates well into various professional fields. Human development majors focus on the creative process of growth and change within individuals and can be carried into professional helping fields such as social workers, counselors, child and youth program directors, human resources coordinators or health promotion specialists. These are just a few options for human development majors. Read more about careers and internship opportunities from current and alumni Eckerd students. Yet more reasons we THINKOUTSIDE at Eckerd.

Alumni Highlight

Name: Meghan Meehan-Draper
Class of: 2010
Major at Eckerd: Double Major in Communication and French, Minor in Theatre

Where are you now and what are you doing? I currently live in Tampa, FL. I am the Finance Director/Deputy Campaign Manager for Kathy Castor for Congress. She was first elected in 2006 and has been subsequently re-elected. This is her fourth re-election campaign.

What does your job entail and how has your Eckerd experience impacted your career? My job entails a wide variety of tasks. Because there are only two of us on staff (campaign manager is based in D.C.), and I am based in Florida, I tend to handle all of the local campaign needs. I coordinate local, statewide, and national fundraising, which is both event-driven and the result of donor research and fundraising pitches. I cultivate & maintain relationships with donors and supporters, manage the campaign database, and am currently supervising the upgrade and re-design of our campaign website – including choosing website layout, issue management, and re-creating the Congresswoman’s visual identity. I also staff the Congresswoman at political and fundraising events or attend local political events as the campaign’s representative. And I handle office operations and logistics and volunteer coordination.

My experiences at Eckerd set me up beautifully for this job. First and foremost, being so involved at Eckerd and having to juggle many different commitments - wearing many different hats - has really helped prepare me for the real world. At Eckerd I learned developed a professional demeanor and adjust it based on the task at hand. For example, in a single day, I would go from hosting a workshop for faculty and students as a Communications Consultant at the Rahall Communications Resource Center, to crafting a budget for the Eckerd Dance Team, to practicing my monologue for acting class, to making sure I was up to date on all my reading for the Ford Scholars program, to organizing community service activities for the Freshman Honors seminar that I was TA-ing. Daily responsibilities were constant, always changing, interesting and demanding. The same goes for campaign life – long hours, wearing many different hats, adjusting professional demeanor based on your audience, and being ready for an adventure at any given moment. The adventure aspect is particularly Eckerd-esque.

Secondly, my senior thesis has practically become the blueprint for my professional career so far. My thesis was titled “Contemporary Campaign Communication and Image Management: Applied Theories”. My mentor and thesis advisor, Dr. James Janack, really helped me focus academic passions of political communications studies into something that could be applied in the real world. I did extensive research on contemporary female political candidacies and exampled theories of image management on the campaign trail in order to win campaigns. I created a hypothetical campaign and made a website, direct mail, and a commercial. At the time, I did not think that I would actually end up working on a campaign in my first job after college, but it’s been the perfect fit! And I have found that my thesis work on campaigns has given me a significant leg-up in my professional work on campaigns! I can approach my daily assignments with an academic perspective and with a true passion for the work that began and was shaped at Eckerd College. I am so happy with where I’ve ended up. It has opened so many doors, and I have met such incredible people. Thank you, Eckerd, for helping me realize how I want to change the world.

What makes Eckerd so special or why does it stand out to you as a great college? What does it mean to you now that you have been away for a while? I had an absolutely unparalleled experience compared with my friends who went to other schools and universities, particularly in the way that my experiences at Eckerd have completely shaped my experiences post-grad. The faculty and staff at Eckerd truly care about the success of the students. We are not just numbers in a grade book. Part of what is so great about Eckerd is its small size – classmates are forced to invest in each others’ shared experiences in the classroom. Everyone contributes because everyone is invested. It’s the most wonderful cycle of giving and receiving feedback. Friends who went to large state universities were allowed to just sit in the back of a lecture hall for the first few years of gen ed, but at Eckerd, Day 1 you’re in your small autumn term class having to speak up and participate and use your critical thinking skills.

Now that I have been away for a couple years, I see the way the habits I formed in classroom interaction have crossed over into my professional interactions. I am invested in colleagues’ happiness and success, and always try to foster a productive and proactive environment – no doubt this is something I got from Eckerd. Also, it is so interesting meeting other folks throughout the country and asking them, “oh so where did you go to school, did you like it, etc etc?” and 95% of the time, they give these generic responses. When people ask me, I end up getting begged to stop talking because I immediately gush about Eckerd and how incredible it was and is. There’s no shortage of enthusiasm from Eckerd alumni. It felt like a special place and community when we were students, and it still feels that way.

What opportunities have you had because of your Eckerd education and how have they impacted your life? Like I mentioned before, being a Ford Scholar and writing my thesis greatly helped me transfer my academic passions into real world work. It really gave me a chance to decide how I want to contribute to the world and gave me the tools to make it happen – the flexibility and drive to succeed. Also, being in Phi Beta Kappa has really helped when interviewing. Employers are impressed by it. Networking as an Eckerd alumna has also been dynamite. Let me give you a few examples: because I was on the Eckerd Alumni Board of Directors, I attended a meeting back in February 2011 with the Parent Council. After the meeting, I struck up a conversation with one of the parents who is an attorney from Minneapolis. I told him I was moving to D.C., and he gave the name of his college roommate and best friend, who happens to be the extremely-well known Democratic strategist, Peter Fenn. He has managed campaigns around the country, is an advisor at the White House, writes national columns and frequently appears on MSNBC, CNN, etc. The point is – the parent council member trusted me enough and was invested in my success because I am an Eckerd alumna, and he was willing to help me make connections. When I got to D.C., I promptly looked up Fenn’s contact info, set up a meeting, and we ended up becoming friends, getting together every few months, and we keep in touch still.

When I was out of work in December 2010 after my first campaign, I called my mentor, Dr. James Janack, and asked him for advice. He put me in touch with his brother-in-law, Sean Rankin, another nationally-known Democratic strategist, who has worked for the Democratic National Committee and done 30 federal and state campaigns. Sean and I got together a few times when I was in D.C. and he was a HUGE help as I was trying to figure out where to go in life, how to tell my professional narrative – he got me meetings on the Hill and with the DCCC. I never would have had these meetings without my Eckerd connections.

And finally – the Eckerd alumni networks around the country are first-class. In D.C., I met people who were eager to help me succeed. And now that I am local again, I maintain strong relationships with the Eckerd community. It’s like a support system that is always there to catch you when you fall and provide help when you need it.

Ask the Director

How do Directors and Deans decide how to distribute territory amongst the staff?

Usually each person on staff will have primary, secondary and tertiary territory. There are different skills each admission representative can develop when dealing with students from our number one state vs. a state from which we receive just one or two applications each year. Since we cannot travel everywhere, it's also important to understand how to work with students in areas where we don't travel. Learning to use phone and email contacts to generate interest is challenging but useful for a career in admission work. And of course, creating relationships with counselors is key to any admission success in the long run.

Do you check your applicants' Facebook status?

We do not. We try to leave some space for students to have their own life. We offer each incoming class a Facebook page as a tool to meet each other and create community, but we try to be minimal posters. If a student has an online business and gives me a link, I will probably check out the offerings (hand-knitted hats and scarves on one site, personalized surfboard designs on another). Or, if the student has his/her art or writings online and gives me a link, I will probably check out their work. We don't have the time or inclination to check students Facebook pages on a regular basis.
Submit a question for the next issue. Email Maria Furtado, Director of Admission.

Student Highlight

Name: Sarah Levine
Major: Communications
Minor(s): Psychology, Leadership Studies

Favorite thing about Eckerd

My favorite thing about Eckerd is the community. Eckerd would not be the same without our faculty, staff, and other students.

What made you decide to attend Eckerd?

I chose Eckerd for so many reasons! I wanted to have numerous study abroad and service-learning opportunities, be able to build close relationships with faculty and staff, have a mentor rather than an academic advisor, be in a beautiful location, and to go to school with friendly people in small class sizes.

Best place to spend your free time on campus

In a hammock on South Beach or relaxing on Kappa Field.

Favorite dorm event you participated in

Fondue Party with everyone in my dorm.

Favorite place to study (if it is a unique one ex. Beach, Kappa field, in a tree, kayak, etc)

When I’m looking for a change from the library, I’ll usually go to the patio overlooking the pond by the library.

What have you done to give back to your community/environment

I volunteer regularly at Pet Pal Animal Shelter, and have applied for a Spring Break Service Trip

What are your hopes for the future sustainability at Eckerd

I hope that all dorms will be LEED certified

If you have traveled abroad with Eckerd, where did you go and your favorite moment?

I traveled to Spain with choir over spring break and one of my favorite moments was visiting the Real Palace in Madrid. I also traveled to China over Winter Term and my favorite moments were climbing the Great Wall and meeting with business executives from across the world.

How has EC changed your life?

EC has changed my life by providing countless opportunities for learning and growing in the most supportive and amazing environment.

Organization Highlight

Club/Activity Name: EC Homeless Outreach

Student Name: Chris Giordano, Class of 2013

What do you do in this club (describe a typical meeting/event): Every Saturday afternoon during the school year, our club goes out into the local St. Petersburg community and distributes food to the homeless. Beforehand, we make the sandwiches that we hand out. Most of our members now know the local community by name and face, so it has been a great opportunity to learn about other perspectives and life stories.

What is your favorite thing about being a part of this club/activity? Being able to meet individuals from a variety of different backgrounds and learn about their lives.

What are the challenges if any with this club/activity? You have to surmount the barrier of distributing food to the disenfranchised. After that, it becomes sharing food with friends and neighbors who wait to see you every week.

Whom to contact for more information: Chris Giordano, President

Email: or

What's New at Eckerd

Where in the World is Eckerd College?!

One of the many things that makes Eckerd students stand out is their desire to explore the world around them and ThinkOUTside! Therefore, it’s no surprise that over 300 students chose to spend Eckerd’s three-week Winter Term by taking an off-campus class with one of our Eckerd professors. Winter Term allows students to try everything from dabbling in the arts in London, to taking a peek at ecology and cultures in Malaysia. Winter term is a great way to study a subject in a nontraditional classroom, whether it be to further your studies in your major, or explore a subject as foreign to you as the country you’re in! Check out the blog from Professor Shapero’s International Business trip to China this past Winter Term by clicking on this link:

Letter of Recommendation

Download the admission recommendation form (pdf)

Fast Facts

Number of fraternities and sororities at Eckerd

Contact Us

Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711

(800) 456-9009
(727) 867-1166

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