Life after a liberal arts degree: my contribution to my alma mater’s marketing

This summer I was asked some questions for some marketing materials for the Temple University College of Liberal Arts — aiming to convey there is life after a liberal arts degree.

Find what I shared with them below.

Name: Christopher Wink

Graduation Year: May 2008

Major(s): political science

Current City: Philadelphia (with my fair share of Amtrak rides along the Northeast Corridor)

Current Job/Academic Title: Cofounder and Editorial Director of Technical.ly, a local tech news site

When you came to Temple, how did you select your major(s)? I wanted to better understand how the world worked and how we governed ourselves. Plus, it helped that the most interesting course names to me were around politics and government.

Which classes (that you can recall) did you most enjoy at Temple? Geoffrey Herrera had a class in foreign policy that helped me first really grasp how interconnected the world is. I may not be able to say this one, but I got into the Honors Program late (my grades weren’t great early, but I worked hard and progressed as I got older) and Ruth Ost was very influential with only just a gentle and limited touch in reminding me that Temple had a particularly special cohort. It was also how I ended up in a Community Media course with former professor Eugene Martin, which took media, neighborhoods and community volunteerism and mixed them all up. Though that wasn’t a proper CLA course, it was exactly the kind of liberal arts paradigm that represents Temple for me.

Which classes were most helpful in preparing you for your career? Robin Kolodny’s Money in Politics was important for my coming to understand how journalism and academia can intersect. At first in that class, every question I needed to ask had to be asked more deeply than I did my first try. I also wrote a couple academic papers in there I was actually proud of. There was harder subject matter for me during my time at Temple, but she challenged me as much as any professor in all four years. Also, Joe Mclaughlin was for me what I have found he is to those countless leaders around government and policy in Philadelphia and Harrisburg: a tirelessly respected and effortlessly gentle adviser. I took a couple of his classes and did an honors thesis with him but in truth, I did better classwork in his office than any classroom.

Were you involved in any extracurricular activities or student groups? The Temple News, the college newspaper, was one of the most important experiences of my life. It gave me some of my closest friends (and my fiancee, Shannon McDonald, SCT 2009) today, shaped my worldview and brought me to news media. I played lots of basketball at the rec center, but nothing counts more than The Temple News. It was my fraternity. I did a couple semesters with Acel Moore’s old Prime Movers program in which I helped a bunch of high schools kids at the Franklin Learning Center start and grow a high school newspaper. I was also pretty active in the Cherry Crusade — always finding time to cheer on the men’s and often the women’s basketball teams too (somewhere I have a photo with a Temple U painted on my chest!).

Were there any other experiences you had at Temple that were particularly helpful? (Study abroad? A specific professor?) A summer in Ghana with Abu Abarry was likely my first truly foundational adult experience. A semester in Japan helped me better understand the person I wanted to be. Joe Mclaughlin and Robin Kolodny remain advisers to me even though I don’t have the opportunity to speak them as much as I’d like. I’d also return to that Community Media course I took with Eugene Martin, which led me to do a number of years of work with the nearby Village of Arts and Humanities. I am more deeply tied to Philadelphia and better understand the world because of Temple University and the College of Liberal Arts. I also went silly with internships and each of them were meaningful: the Coalition Against Hunger, the Committee of Seventy and a semester with the Inquirer. I had the great privilege of being the Class of 2008 Commencement Speaker and that was the kind of experience that helped me recognize how broad, diverse and expansive Temple’s reach is.

Tell us a little about your career path and what you’re doing now: Right out of graduation I took a prestigious fellowship in Harrisburg reporting on state government for a consortium of state newspapers, including the Inquirer. Then I returned and cofounded Technical.ly, a 10-person news organization that now covers technology and entrepreneurship in Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Baltimore, Delaware and soon Washington D.C. It’s a direct line from college to community beat reporting.

Any parting words about the college? Grades matter, but what you’re really paying for is access to a network of extraordinary people and experiences. There aren’t many places in the world I’d rather have done that than in Philadelphia with Temple’s College of Liberal Arts.

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