Alumni Spotlight

Colleen Daly ’12
Educator
East Hampton, NY

Majors: Theatre (with a performance emphasis) and Global & Cultural Studies (with a cultural emphasis)

Activities: I was a part of the Sachsen Society, Activism Coalition, Alpha Psi Omega Dramatics Fraternity, and Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Fraternity. Although I spent a good amount of my time with each of these things, I was most heavily involved in the theater department and I couldn’t be happier about it. I had part of my work study devoted to the scene shop, worked backstage on a handful of shows, and performed in several more.

What first attracted you to Whittier College? I heard about Whittier College through my high school college counselor. Originally from a small town in Virginia, I told her that I wanted to experience a drastically different lifestyle and location without sacrificing the sense of community so strongly rooted in my upbringing and hometown. I did my research – looked at Whittier’s website, checked out stats on Princeton Review, and finally visited. I can’t say exactly what it was that made me realize that I wanted to go to Whittier but I knew as soon as I stepped on campus that I was the right amount of comfortable and curious to feel at home in that intellectual environment. 

Why did you choose to study Global & Cultural Studies? I chose GCS because it is inherently interdisciplinary. I knew that I wanted to focus my studies on a particular topic (the use of performance in revolutions of the Black Diaspora) and saw that GCS would allow me to take a smattering of classes from anthropology, history, political science, and more. Plus, the professors at Whittier are absolutely incredible. Because of GCS, I was able to take classes with so many more than I would have if I had majored in a more specifically designed discipline. 

Describe your experience at Whittier College. What was your favorite class? My Whittier College experience is multifaceted. It doesn’t just consist of events and people directly related to campus or the surrounding Whittier area. My experience resulted in an international web of relationships and research. I was privileged enough to study abroad for a semester in Ghana and then follow that up with a summer there because of my Mellon Undergraduate Fellowship. Later, after graduation, I went with two of my favorite professors – Danilo Lozano and José Ortega – to Havana, Cuba for an ethnomusicology research trip. To put it bluntly, my experience at Whittier College was awesome. I had ideas, I presented those ideas to the appropriate professors or clubs or boards, and I worked as hard as I could to reach my goals, which often resulted in these fantastic, international opportunities.

I can’t imagine picking a favorite class. Like I said earlier, the GCS major enabled me to look at a list of classes and say, “These four or five classes look like they were made for me. I’m going to take them.” I took four years of my favorite classes at Whittier.

What was your first job after Whittier? What are you currently up to? How has your Whittier education benefitted you professionally? Throughout my college career I worked for a spectacular education program called Explo at Yale. Located at Yale University, I designed and taught classes to high-schoolers. Technically, that was my first job after Whittier since I went back to doing that the summer after graduation. I then took a leap and moved to Chicago where I got a job as a preschool teacher and also volunteered full time for a theatre for social change organization called All Stars Project. My year in Chicago was wonderful and helped me to jump off to what I am doing now, which is working as a teacher and teaching assistant as well as a house parent at a boarding school in East Hampton, New York. I love education. I love learning. I love teaching. Having such phenomenal professors at Whittier inspired me to try my hand at teaching.

What advice would you give to future GCS alumni when they graduate? I think that it’s important for future GCS alumni to remember that they already spent several years seeking out and designing an education to best fit their interests and needs. They are passionate, bright, creative, and independent enough to do the work and research necessary to reach whatever goal they set. They should stay true to their visions and beliefs because they already proved that they have distinct interests and the self-confidence and motivation needed in order to bring things to life. 

Finish this sentence: I am a ‘Poet for Life’ because… when I say 'me pε sε me kÉ fie,' I know that Whittier will always feel like it could be that home. 

-Are you a graduate of the Global & Cultural Studies program and want to share your story? Contact the Office of Communications at therock@whittier.edu

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