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This article was written on 02 Apr 2012, and is filled under Student & Alumni Perspectives, What's Up With Alums?.

Reflections on Life After Hampshire: Kalei Sabaratnam 07F

Written by CORC student worker, Summer Hirtzel F08

Recent Hampshire alum Kalei Sabaratnam 07F got an internship with the Teachers College in NYC at Columbia University the summer before her last year at Hampshire, now she’s working there full time. We caught up with her to ask her what everyone wants to know: what is life like after Hampshire?

While at Hampshire, Kalei studied Elementary Education and Educational Policy with a focus on anti-racism and social justice. She had really hoped to start out teaching right away as she had learned so much about teaching at Hampshire she was eager to put that knowledge into practice. However, she had gotten involved with the Teachers College through an internship that she landed – with the help of CORC – because she thought it would be a good post-college job, and they were the ones who hired her off the bat.

Because she had built a rapport with Teacher’s College by doing well at her summer internship the year before, she sent multiple versions of her resume and cover letter to the Hiring Executive during her last year at Hampshire. Eventually a position opened up and they offered it to her.  She now manages major events and conferences for public and private schools in their development of reading and writing curriculum.

While she’s a self-described optimist, Kalei said the first post-Hampshire summer was really tough for her. It was hard to get motivated. The way she puts it: “Hampshire gives you so many possibilities with certain guidelines. The ‘Real World’ gives you a lot of guidelines and not a lot of possibilities. The question-seeking is harder to come by creatively and I think it hit me kind of hard and fast.” She also finds that the cost of living in NYC is shocking, which is balanced out by being able to connect to people who are on the “same groovy wavelengths as a Hampshire Student.” She has found a Hampshire-esque community in New York that she didn’t think would be possible in her hometown in North Carolina. In fact, she says she runs into Hampshire Alums almost every weekend and that the “cultural explosions” of the city and the community it allows folks to foster generally make six dollar granola bars worth it.

Kalei feels that her Divisional work gave her a sense of accountability and bolstered her confident, independent spirit. She cautions against letting this confidence grow too much so as to make you stubborn, especially in the workplace. Her overconfidence had her clashing with her supervisors on the first few months of her job.

Kalei laments that going to Hampshire College is, “like eating the best pie in the world and then never having it again.” However, she encourages us all to remember that people have in fact made it and are still trying to be successful after they leave Hampshire. Commencement is just that – a beginning as much as it is an ending. She describes the post-graduation year as a time to figure out what you do and don’t want in your work place.

Her advice is to connect with someone a year or two older than you at Hampshire and watch how they grow. There is so much to be learned and gained from seeing what people do with their time here; other students’ paths can be a great source of inspiration. She also advises graduating students to look for their opportunities to join clubs and groups as soon as they graduate in order to continue growing academically, personally, socially, and emotionally after Hampshire. She also advises graduating students to look for opportunities to join clubs and groups as soon as they graduate, in order to continue the academic, personal, social, emotional growth in your life after Hampshire.

If you’re interested in learning about Teachers College or contacting Kalei about her work and life after Hampshire, she has warmly extended her contact information to the community. She would love to talk to any students about anything at all. Her email is ks07, and her cell phone number is available upon request.

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