Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

From networking to medieval morality plays: A recap of my weekend

Susannah Green
February 24, 2013

By the time you're a senior, pretty much every class event includes wine. Between "Senior Dinner" (aka networking with alums) on Friday night, and going to my Chaucer professor's house to discuss "Everyman" on Saturday, my weekend was basically all wine, plus lots of interesting Real World discussions with Real Adults (on everything from the power of social media to Kenyon trashcan parties in the 80s). Read on for more highlights.

1. Networking with alums in Peirce Pub

(We chatted with alums in Peirce Pub. Sadly my phone died so I don't have any pictures from Friday)

So what exactly does a "Kenyon networking event" actually mean? Basically Kenyon invites a ton of alums to come back to campus every year so they can chat about Real World stuff with seniors, followed by a catered dinner in Lower Dempsey. As I walked into the pub a little after 6 on Friday, I was inexplicably really nervous-- how does "networking" work?  What if they tell me post grad life is all downhill from here?? Luckily I didn't need to worry for long--two friendly alums immediately approached my friend and me and gave us an overview of their own post Kenyon career paths.

While the woman I talked to (a former fellow English major) had ended up somewhere she didn't expect--she works in an executive position at an insurance firm--she said she had thrived in the business world and still enjoyed creative writing as a hobby. Overall, I enjoyed chatting with various Kenyon grads and hearing about where they had ended up. Even better, they seemed genuinely happy with their lives and careers. "Graduation" is pretty much a four-letter word at the moment for many freaked out seniors (myself included), but it was reassuring to see so many people advocating for the value of their Kenyon education.

2. Dinner in Lower Dempsey

(This is what came up when I googled "fancy dinner Kenyon")

Part two of "senior dinner" was the actual dinner part--every alum was assigned a table (their profession was listed next to their name) and we could choose where to sit based on our interest in their career. I chose to sit with Jan S. Guifarro '73, who works as a VP of corporate communications at Colgate-Palmolive Co. in New York. Ms. Guifarro was incredibly cool and really fun to talk to; she graduated in three years with the first female class at a time when historically all-male Kenyon had 1,000 men and, with that first class, only 100 women (sample quote: "I had hair like Janis Joplin, so that was definitely the most popular I've ever been in my life"). She also served in the Peace Corps at a time when women could only serve in dresses (!), and became fluent in Spanish while teaching dance as an aerobic exercise for girls in Honduras. AKA Jan is awesome and I want to be her when I grow up. 

Other alums proved to be just as hilarious and interesting. One of my friends sat at a table where the woman (now a lawyer who graduated in the 80s) talked about how WiggleGround used to be an empty space where people would throw "trashcan ragers" (trashcans filled to the brim with various kinds of alcohol). She also said she felt sad for us that we don't have those anymore. So do I! Bring back the trashcan ragers, future Kenyon kids. After all, it's tradition, and we're pretty big on that.

Finally, the dinner concluded when drama professor and Kenyon grad Ben Viccellio gave an incredibly moving speech about everything Kenyon had done for him that simultaneously made me a) want to sob (mayy have been a little tipsy at this point) and b) yell at the alumni association for repeatedly referring to us as alums (we haven't graduated yet!!)

3. Snacks and medieval plays

 ("Everyman"--the play we discussed at my professor's house on Saturday) 

On Saturday I went over to my Chaucer professor's house so the seniors in the class could discuss "Everyman," a medieval morality play that's on our comps list. Professor O'Neill  had tons of snacks and wine laid out and we spent the first hour just talking and hanging out, which was really fun. For the next hour and a half, we got into the play, discussing everything from its role as a transitional text between Catholic and Protestant notions of the individual's relationship with God to medieval manor house versus merchant class accounting practices. Needless to say we were all nerding out quite a bit, and based on the success of the evening Professor O'Neill even proposed a future snacks-and-drinks Chaucer seminar that would take place every week at her house (!!) So you're welcome, future English majors. That sounds like the best thing ever.