What can a liberal arts education get you? For four University of San Diego alumni, their degree put them on the path for careers in radio, the international art recovery and restoration business, the local beverage market and local politics.
Noreen Ippolito ‘90 (Communication Studies), Robert O’Connell ‘82 (English and History), Harry Ryan ‘92 (English) and Todd Gloria ‘00 (History and Political Science) were back on campus last Friday to explain to a Family Weekend audience the benefits of their liberal arts education and how it helped them reach their career goals.
“I’d never trade my liberal arts degree,” said O’Connell, president of O’Connell International Arts, who works in international art recovery and restoration, and runs The Architrouve in Chicago, which is hosting a USD alumni event Thursday to raise money for scholarships for the second straight year. “I have a passion for art, but I’ve always loved to read, loved words and the creative aspect of writing.”
Ippolito, director of business development for Clear Channel Communications, gained interest in a radio career after winning a contest on disc jockey Rick Dees’ show years ago. She was hooked on the idea of being in the radio business in some capacity and has now spent 13 years working for Clear Channel, which owns 950 radio stations across the country.
“When I told my parents that I wanted to go into radio, they wanted me to consider a business degree,” said Ippolito, who didn’t follow her parents’ advice, but did compromise with a minor in business. She wrote for the college newspaper, participated in sorority activities and became fluent in Spanish through USD’s summer program in Guadalajara, Mexico. She finished her degree in 3 1/2 years.
Ryan, along with two siblings, is co-founder of the Ryan Bros. Coffee Co. Ryan (pictured above) recalled a conversation with his father at a young age in which he was reminded about the need to work hard and to apply himself if he wanted to be successful. Seeking a degree to help him achieve this goal, he treated his liberal arts experience “like a buffet so I could sample a variety of things.” He has an English degree and minored in psychology. Ryan wrote for the college paper and loved to read. He finds that his degree helps when he’s performing marketing, writing and product development duties for the company. “My English degree opened the book to so much treasure,” he said.
Gloria’s two degrees at USD are some of the many accomplishments for the young man who was the first in his family to attend college. The Harry S. Truman Scholar has a lengthy community and public service resume that includes working for Rep. Susan Davis. Gloria, who won the District 3 San Diego City Council seat in November 2008, credits his overall USD experience for aiding his development. His writing skills and the ability to speak clearly help him in the political arena. He continued his community service aspirations while at USD and said the small class size and a small-campus environment meant he could interact with professors and focus on academics goals. “I don’t think I would have been as successful if I had not come here,” he said.
— Ryan T. Blystone