Class Year


Why I Give

The Alumni Leadership Circle is a group of outstanding alumni who choose to donate to COA $500 or more per year. Sue was a student in the late 1970’s and has been giving back to COA for over 30 years. She shares her story:

When did you start giving back to COA? Why?

As soon as I got my first appeal letter!  I grew up with stories of great grandparents who were philanthropists, in a family that modeled contributing both money and time to non-profits that reflect one’s beliefs and priorities.  It was also a family that highly valued higher education: I watched my parents writing out checks to their respective alumni associations every year as they reflected on how lasting an impact their college years had had on their lives.  So it just seemed natural to consider my beloved college community an important one to stay connected with and contribute to over the years. 

In what field were you interested when you attended COA?

I was focused on learning - not vocation!  What I loved about COA was the interdisciplinary, integrative nature of the curriculum that did not require I declare a focus area.  I also thrived on the applied, experiential nature of the learning.  I arrived fresh off a semester with NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School), which combined the study of field ecology with leadership in the Alaska wilderness.  At COA I took courses in literature, women’s studies, philosophy, and psychology, and co-led a peer writing group. I took a carpentry class (which built a new green house) and then did an internship with a lesbian-feminist carpentry collective in Minneapolis where I ostensibly examined cooperative principles, but as much enjoyed learning to properly swing a hammer. 

In what field did you end up working? 

Higher Education.  I’ve been on the faculty at Antioch University Seattle for 36 years, where I currently chair undergraduate studies programs.  We serve adult learners returning to complete a liberal arts degree that integrates career development with academic studies, with a heavy emphasis on social justice and discovering and enacting one’s passions and calling.  

How did your experiences at COA affect the work you did after COA?

My educational philosophy and pedagogy was formed at COA: in discovering what enabled me to thrive as a learner - small discussion based seminars, problem/issue-centered inquiry, application projects, internships, field-studies, senior projects - I gained a template for designing dynamic and relevant courses and educational programs.  From my term facilitating ACM, I gained confidence in my group leadership skills.  I also gained an embodied understanding of what true learning community feels and acts like that has served as a constant guide.  

Why do you continue to give to COA every year?

I give because the world needs COA educated graduates now even more than ever - and I want to help make a COA education accessible to those who might not otherwise afford it.  The urgency for innovative and systemic thinkers, passionate and idealistic souls, grounded in science but with a capacity for creative expression, increases daily.  COA offers an education for all of these capacities.