On Friday, October 13, the Writers House and English Department co-sponsored a trip for 19 students to travel to New York City to network with 12 F&M alumni with degrees in English at a luncheon at the Penn Club of New York . Following the luncheon, students met with comedy writers at Above Average, a leading studio and digital publisher connecting people to stories through the lens of comedy, whose president is F&M alumna Jen Danielson ’95. The following is a reflection on the trip written by English major Peter Merani ’18.
The trip to Manhattan provided us with faces for the future we always hear about. It provided us English majors and intended majors with real face-to-face stories from people who have once been in our shoes. We listened and asked questions to alumni who wanted to share their stories and help navigate the post-grad world. And it was comforting to see these alumni live, in person, face to face, and to hear, as bluntly as could be told, what our future might have in store. Nicole Morano ‘11, of Penguin Random House started us off with great advice and knowledge of the publishing world and her newfound knowledge on Billy Collins. An important message, delivered by the subsequent panel of English major alumni, was to be relentless and passionate about what you want because you never really stop being afraid, especially so early in the game of life. We mingled and ate lunch with the alumni, as we listened with rapt attention to their stories and advice, asking questions, getting contact info, and networking in a way that felt organic. Following the English alumni lunch, we walked two blocks to the headquarters of Above Average and met with the staff in their writers’ room. Though not Dips, the comedy writers still provided us with personal stories and the confidence to just do what we loved, in whatever form of writing that is. No doubt we will make them proud.
The Writers House and English Department would like to thank the following F&M alumni for attending our luncheon at the Penn Club: Becca Bolstein '14, Greer Kann '17, Nodar Kipshidze '14, Brittany Lovely '12, Liz Meley '13, Nicole Morano '11, Alex Nanfara '03, Jaclyn Noel '12, Lauren Paustian '05, Constance Renfrow '12, Katie Stryker '11 and Randy Wilkins '01. We also want to thank special guest Alexander Slater, Literary Agent at Trident Media Group, LLC.
We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Jen Danielson '95 and her staff at Above Average for hosting our students at their office.
Finally, we want to acknowledge the efforts of Kathy Babb, Senior Student Development Adviser in the Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development, who hosted a pre-trip meeting that provided students with tips and resources that assisted them in their preparation for this unique networking opportunity.