The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences’ breadth and depth is aptly featured in the 2013-14 issue of Spheres as its alumni boast a broad spectrum of livelihoods and careers.

“We pride ourselves on producing graduates who are eager and capably equipped to improve the quality of life for people of all ages,” said Sue Ott Rowlands, dean of the college.

The issue spotlights alumni who have helped in youth development projects on urban farms, managed huge high-rise apartment complexes, and advanced the quality of elder care. Collectively, they oversee universities, high tech companies, and organizations that are committed to capacity-building in developing countries across the world. 

“Our alumni think critically to improve our safety, our technology, our energy, and our towns and to serve in our military,” said Ott Rowlands. “Whether tasked with housing or educating or entertaining the masses, all have positive reflections on how a liberal arts background has served to inform their lives.”

“The primary thing Virginia Tech taught me is critical thinking,” said communication alumnus Pierre Thomas, ABC News’ senior justice correspondent.  “I had great professors who really helped me grasp the notion of analyzing and interpreting situations.”

“Being a liberal arts student makes you very well-rounded,” noted Deborah A.P. Hersman, who graduated with majors in political science and international studies and currently serves as chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board since being appointed to that post in 2009 by President Barack Obama.

Lt. Col Kisha Flagg, an English major who served as the first female officer in charge of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Jungle Warfare Training Center, said “As an officer, you are responsible for passing the word; and if you cannot speak or write well, your career will be short-lived.”

Whether through their careers or intentional service journeys, many College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences’ alumni also are actively impacting global society.

“It was a steep learning curve,” said Mireille Cronin Mather. “But, my coursework gave me a strong baseline to quickly advance in international development work.” The interdisciplinary studies major now serves as the executive director of the Foundation for Sustainable Development, a nonprofit that enhances the capacity of 300 community organizations around the world.

“My experience at Tech literally connected me to the world,” said Laura Doll, who earned a bachelor’s degree in French and is now director of regulatory relations at Pacific Gas and Electric Company. “It taught me how to learn, to focus on communication and language, to understand philosophy and the concept of critical thinking, and to think of a world that was much bigger than Virginia.”

All of their stories and more can be found in volume six of Spheres magazine.