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Securing America’s Future:

The Power of Liberal Arts Education

Terra Teague Hess

Retail Industry Analyst, Google
Alma College (MI), Class of 2008
Terra Teague Hess is a retail industry analyst for Google. Previously, she was a Google AdWords account manager.
 
Prior to her employment with Google, Hess was senior analyst for online sales strategy at Unilever on the national Walmart account for frozen desserts.
 
She graduated from Alma College in 2008 as a business major.
Oftentimes, it is only after certain moments—or periods of our life—have passed that we truly realize their impact. As I look back at my own journey, I’ve come to find that it was not the “moments” themselves that changed me, but it was the people in them that did.

Two of the most valuable lessons I learned as a liberal arts student were the value of perspective and the humility to appreciate it.

The four years I spent at Alma College was one of those unforgettable times. My liberal arts education allowed me the privilege to develop more than a network of connections, but rather an extended family. The faculty invested in me as a person—giving me the most valuable gift a liberal arts school can…its time. How many large state school students can say that their professors invited them into their home for class dinners or to get help editing a paper? How many can say that their instructor would spend their weekend prepping them for a potential job interview? Not many. I would not be where I am today without the Alma College faculty, who cared enough to push me, to challenge me, to help me find my true passion. They never forced me to choose one path over another—even when I wished they would at times. But rather, they gave me the advice and insight I needed to make my own decisions instead of answering my questions for me.

Two of the most valuable lessons I learned as a liberal arts student were the value of perspective and the humility to appreciate it.

Although your chosen field of study is important, thinking beyond it can give you a more realistic and respected view of the world—all the while making you a more well-rounded person. Despite being a business major, I took classes in geology, poetry, calculus, and religious studies. Some of the best advice I received was from a political science professor, who stressed the value of  “always being a part of the conversation.” His words continue to inspire me today as a professional businesswoman at Google—a position I was able to achieve next to the likes of Top 10 and Ivy League school candidates. The reason: Alma College prepared me for such a challenge. In fact, during the interview process, one of the questions asked was, “What makes you Googily?” They wanted to discover who I was outside of work—what else I was passionate about and educated in. This question was important because the ability to develop relationships with clients is the core focus of my work. Alma helped instill confidence in me personally and professionally, so no matter what the situation I am prepared.

I’ve recently become a parent to a beautiful two-month old girl. I now understand how thankful my parents were for the Alma College faculty and staff, who cared for me like one of their own children. Despite college being many years down the road, I hope my daughter can experience the love and life that surrounds a liberal arts experience. I will never forget mine.
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