With graduation right around the corner, the “Hilltop Monitor” decided it was time to catch up with the staff members who graduated last year and see where they are today. The seniors on staff were Mary Luber, James Webber, Bryson Waibel and Joe Gunn.
Mary Luber majored in nonprofit leadership and psychology. She is now working at the Kansas City Public Library as the refugee and immigrant services outreach coordinator.
“Our goal as a division is to connect refugee and immigrant populations with the quality services, resources and lifelong learning opportunities of the Library. This fits in really nicely with the Library’s mission statement, which is to be a doorway of knowledge to all people in our community,” said Luber.
Luber and her coworkers are working to accomplish this goal through education, outreach and advocacy.
“So part of my job is lessening the gap between refugee and immigrant patrons and the accessibility to, or awareness of, already-existing resources, in the Metro. That includes promoting inclusivity and accessibility within the library system, ensuring our branches are welcoming to persons speaking any one of the 45 languages that are reported to be in use within our service district in Jackson County,” said Luber.
Her day-to-day work consists of planning educational programs, attending meetings, grant writing and increasing public awareness. The library is working to increase public awareness through events such as lectures, forums, panel discussions, performances, film screenings, gallery walks and radio interviews. One of Luber’s personal projects is sharing the stories of refugees with the public through oral histories and digital storytelling. Luber wants to create a safe space for immigrants and refugees to share their stories to help promote understanding, empathy, curiosity and willingness to listen from natives of Kansas City.
“These narratives are invaluable, and that makes even days I’m tied to my desk interesting and just really, really worth it,” said Luber.
Luber’s experience at the library has shown her that within the nonprofit sector you need to find what you are personally passionate about and pursue that if you want to make change.
“I am in indirect service by writing grants and setting up a department to be successful in the future and creating succession plans. I really want to work more with a policy focus, so a lot more advocacy. I want to make nonprofits more efficient,” said Luber.
To do this, Luber sees herself moving to Washington, D.C. to pursue a job at a policy institute.
Luber credits some of her success to her ability to get an aerial view and critically analyze the situation before making a decision.
“It’s been ingrained in me because every class I took at Jewell forced me to do that, every professor encouraged me to do that, all of my writing for the “Monitor” made me step back and think how will people perceive things. Being able to pause and reconsider before making a decision, and so that’s been helpful in almost every aspect of life,” said Luber.
During her senior year at Jewell, Luber was the editor-in-chief of the “Hilltop Monitor”. She frequently sees the Monitor influencing her work life, as she is always revising tweets, emails and press releases for the Library.
“I spend so much time on it because it’s habitual from my time at the “Monitor” to constantly be like ‘what will readers think about this specific word’ or I think that organizing this email or this document this way will be most effective,” said Luber.
In addition, Luber is still close with many of her friends from the “Monitor” because it became her niche and although she is enjoying adult life since graduation, she misses the ability to see people whenever you want and having built-in time to see your friends whether it is in the Pryor Learning Commons (PLC) or the dining hall.
James Webber, former social media manager for the “Monitor”, was an international relations and Spanish major at Jewell.
He is currently taking a gap year to apply for law school. He is living in Alexandria, Va. where he is working at Starbucks. He has applied to many law schools including University of Washington in Seattle, William and Mary, Washington and Lee and the University of Richmond and hopes to attend one of them this fall.
When asked how Jewell has helped him reach where he is today and where he is going, Webber talked of the leadership and critical thinking skills he learned here.
“They’re buzzwords, but they’re buzzwords that are actually true,” said Webber.
Webber gained additional leadership and writing skills from the “Monitor”, along with a reason to stay up until 3 a.m. copyediting.
“I used to think I was a really terrible writer and now I’m just a bad writer. If I had to find a way to use up my time, it would definitely always be the “Monitor”. It was always a good time,” said Webber.
Bryson Waibel was a physics, economics and ACT-In major. During his senior year he served as the Sports page editor for the Monitor.
During his senior year, Waibel got engaged to his wife, Kate. She graduated from Jewell in 2014 and started working at Cerner. After his own graduation, Waibel started working at Cerner as a consulting analyst and got married in September. He and his wife now live in Lees Summit, Mo. and are expecting their first child in July.
“Kate and I have done a good job a checking a lot of ‘adult’ things off of our list very quickly. Right now, we are going to look forward to trying to slow down a little bit, at least hopefully not having as many big events in the next couple of years. There are currently a lot of uncertainties in my life because I will be starting a family,” said Waibel.
Both Waibel and his wife were very involved at Jewell and believe this has helped, and will continue to help them prepare for their busy lives ahead. In fact, this constant sense of being busy is one of the ways Waibel believes Jewell helped him prepare for his future.
“Always having something more to do at Jewell has pushed my lifestyle to be the way it is today. I really enjoy engaging in community and keeping myself busy, two things Jewell does well. I feel that if I’m not pushing myself out of my comfort zone, then I’m not pushing myself to be the best I can be,” said Waibel.
When reflecting on what he misses about Jewell, Waibel mentioned community. Like Luber, he misses the convenience of being able to see friends daily and has found the transition out of the Jewell community into a new one one of the hardest post-graduation adjustments. In addition to the Jewell community, Waibel also misses the “Monitor” community, which he believes extends beyond staff.
“I miss the community I gained from the Monitor, and I don’t just mean the staff. The entire campus would come together to read the new issues, especially if there was a juicy story. This is another facet to community that you strive to find in post college life. It’s nice to have discussions about the Royals or current events with co-workers, and that can only happen if they are engaged in the same spaces as you are. The “Monitor” enhances the Jewell community in this way,” said Waibel.
Joe Gunn, 2015 graduate in biology and mathematics, is currently taking a gap year to apply for graduate school. In addition to filling out applications, he is volunteering at a dermatology clinic in Columbia, Mo.
“Although it’s been an admittedly low-key year, the time to relax and plan out the future has been valuable,” said Gunn.
Gunn recently found out that he has been accepted into the biological sciences Ph.D. program at the University of Missouri and is looking forward to more years of late nights doing homework and studying. He will be focusing on a doctorate in environmental toxicology.
Gunn believes that Jewell’s philosophy of education and its small community have made him well-rounded and prepared him better than a large university would have.
“Aside from great instruction in math and biology, I grew so much socially, academically and professionally as a student,” said Gunn.
Moving from the small community of Jewell to the University of Missouri will be an adjustment for Gunn who misses many aspects of Jewell.
“Truthfully I miss almost everything about Jewell. But if I were to choose one thing, I miss seeing everyone out on the Quad on the first 75-degree spring day. The sun always seemed to lure everyone to the Hill, including people you didn’t even know were students at Jewell. It was neat seeing everyone come out to procrastinate together on the Quad on those days,” said Gunn.
During his senior year, Gunn was able to serve as a staff writer for the “Monitor” and enjoyed his time, even calling it one of his favorite extracurricular activities he participated in at Jewell.
“I have never seen, let alone been a part of, such an effective, efficient, close-knit and fun-loving group of people; we have Mary Luber’s unrivaled leadership and organizational mastery to thank for much of that,” said Gunn.