Alumni Spotlight

Janina Maniaol ’08
Office of Technology Licensing
Stanford University

Major: Global & Cultural Studies

Minors: English, Religious Studies

Activities: Sigma Tau Delta (English honor society), Theta Alpha Kappa (Religious Studies honor society)

What first attracted you to Whittier College? The sense of community! I didn't want to feel lost in a crowd throughout my college experience, and I felt like Whittier gave its students plenty of opportunities to really contribute to and be a part of the school. I also felt that Whittier supported students' personal growth. Programs like Global & Cultural Studies (GCS) and the Whittier Scholars Programs allow students to get exactly what they want out of their education. That level of support of students' individual goals was something that I didn't find at any other school.

Why did you choose to study Global Cultural Studies? I was so happy the day I discovered what being a GCS major entailed. The program was everything that I was interested in, rolled into one layered and flexible major. GCS advocated (and basically required) that I go out and get real experience outside of the classroom - immersion experiences like study abroad and internships for credit were already carved into the major. You were expected to think outside of the box, and it was understood that something like culture can't be learned solely on paper, it has to be experienced first-hand.

Describe your experience at Whittier College. What was your favorite class? I had a great time at Whittier, both in and out of the classroom. Whittier has a great laid-back attitude about it, and it fostered a general attitude of "enjoy and make the most of your time here."  My favorite classes were "Autobiography & American Culture," the Hemingway and T.S. Eliot course, and my freshman writing seminar on "Food, Culture, & Politics." The subjects were fascinating and the professors really knew how to get us thinking.

Did you intern while at Whittier College? Where, and what was that experience like? As part of my GCS requirements, instead of taking a class, I did an internship at what was then the Italian Hall (now the Italian American Museum) in Los Angeles. My senior project was on the transferring of cultural communities from Italy to the United States, so it was a perfect opportunity. My internship involved everything from research, to visiting historic community sites, to interviewing and obtaining oral histories from various members of the Italian-American community. 

What was your first job after Whittier? What are you currently up to? How has your Whittier education benefited you professionally? I went straight to law school after graduating from Whittier and worked in the legal department of a company while I was a student. After law school, I worked for the British Consulate in San Francisco - first for their Press, Politics, & Public Affairs Department, and then for the Management Department. I now work at the Office of Technology Licensing at Stanford University, which is a great combination of my interests. I think Whittier gave me a good foundation. The varied opportunities that Whittier provides its students, as well as the personal relationships that the professors make with their students, really allow you to stand out. Your recommendations have more substance and your curriculum vitae has more variety.

What advice would you give to future GCS students when they graduate? I would just say - follow your gut. It's easy to get swept up in comparing what other people do or have done, as well as comparing successes and shortcomings. Make decisions based on what you're interested in and what you think will make you happy. Success looks different to different people, so in the end, being proud of yourself and what you're doing is what matters.

Finish this sentence: I am a ‘Poet for Life’ because… "Not everyone can be a Poet," "I'm Whittier than you," and "Girls are prettier in Whittier." Best cheesy college sweatshirt slogans around. Thanks for everything, Whittier!

-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