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Ready, willing and able

May  02, 2016

We asked alumni to tell us about their jobs that didn’t exist 10-15 years ago.

Here’s what we learned.


Kate Dempsey ’11

Education: Bachelor’s in biology and psychology, master’s in genetic counseling

Position: Certified genetic counselor specializing in oncology genetics at Houston Methodist Hospital’s Cancer Center in Houston, Texas

Responsibilities: Most of my time is spent counseling patients and families (in person and via video conferencing) regarding hereditary cancer syndromes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. I see patients with a cancer diagnosis, and patients with a family history of cancer. We discuss family history, genetic testing options, their cancer risks and the potential cancer risks of their family members, and personalized screening recommendations. I facilitate decision-making, interpret genetic test results and work with physicians to formulate appropriate recommendations regarding cancer screening and surgery. In addition, I am a clinical supervisor with the University of Texas Genetic Counseling Program and assist in the clinical training of genetic counseling interns, and I am an assistant clinical faculty member of the Houston Methodist Research Institute. I am currently studying breast cancer risk assessment models in women with a family history of breast cancer.

The best part: Every day is different, and every patient brings something new to the table. In genetic counseling, I often see patients and families at some of the worst points in their lives. I get to build a relationship with each of them, to be a sounding board and an advocate, and to see them through the genetic testing process. Yes, it can be emotionally exhausting, but knowing you made a difference in the lives of your patients and their families is absolutely worth it.

Looking back: I owe so much of my success to Augustana’s Texas Medical Center Summer Research Internship Program (TMC-SRIP). I was able to establish relationships within the genetic counseling program at the University of Texas, shadow genetic counselors at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and work on cutting-edge research in cancer genetics. The TMC-SRIP was the starting point of my professional life in Houston.


Angela Birdsall ’93

Education: Bachelor’s in speech-language pathology/ audiology and master’s in applied behavior analysis

Position: Board Certified Behavior Analyst with Dubuque Community School District in Dubuque, Iowa

Responsibilities: I complete functional behavior assessments, including functional analysis, of students’ challenging behavior. This guides the interventions designed to decrease the challenging behavior and increase appropriate behavior. I provide training specific to a student as well as conduct professional development for staff throughout the district. I work with students of any age in special education and general education.

The best part: I like paving the way for others in a job that didn’t exist previously. I enjoy providing the knowledge and skills to the teachers and other staff to better work with students, and to expand their repertoire regarding student behavior.

Looking back: During a summer job fair at the student center at Augustana, I randomly picked up information on a summer camp. I applied and ended up spending my summers during college at Easter Seals Camp Sunnyside in Des Moines, Iowa, with adults and children with disabilities. I loved the job and those summers! Prior to that I had never worked with or even had much experience with people with disabilities. That job started the ball rolling on where I am today and the career path that I’ve taken.


Stephanie Ewing ’08

Education: Bachelor’s in English literature, master’s in religious studies and master’s in journalism

Position: Social media manager for the nonprofit Radiological Society of North America in Oak Brook, Ill.

Responsibilities: I develop content strategies and craft a variety of multimedia posts for several social media platforms, all to better educate and build community among radiologists, researchers and patients.

The best part: I love that my job lets me continue to learn writing and marketing skills that enhance the creative writing I do on my own time. Social media management has taught me not only the art of compression and value of audience awareness, but also the tools I’ll need to promote my own projects.

Looking back: When Facebook first came to Augustana in 2004, never in a million years did I dream I’d be paid to manage social media accounts and interact with doctors and researchers around the globe. I feel my liberal arts education at Augustana prepared me for truly rewarding jobs, where I’m privileged to work with both words and data, science and my true love: writing.


Lauren Ribando ’13

Majors: Multimedia journalism and mass communication and French

Position: Community investment and employee engagement analyst for Zurich North America, a global insurance provider, in Schaumburg, Ill.

Responsibilities: I focus on making the workplace a more fun and productive environment by conducting research, gathering employee feedback and acting as a expert on employee engagement and community relations. I am also part of an incredible corporate responsibility program. I administer and analyze employee surveys and feedback to help Zurich become a great place to work, and ultimately help us to reach our goal of becoming“the best” global insurer.

The best part: I love the opportunity to meet new people, try new things and make a difference both in the workplace and in my community. Since I have been in my position I have seen steady increases in employee engagement scores, and it has been truly spectacular to see cultural changes occurring in such a large organization — and knowing that I have been a part of that effort. This role takes quite a bit of creative problem-solving, action planning, and project and stakeholder management, which are all activities that energize me every day.

Looking back: The skills I learned in my public relations class prepared me for the role I have now. I still look back on case studies to continue to sharpen those skills, which include creative solution development, strategic planning, project management and crisis/risk management. I use my multimedia skills to direct videos, write articles for internal communication and work with our design team. Believe it or not, I occasionally translate for communications or answer email queries in French for my colleagues in Montreal and Switzerland, which has been extremely useful.


Tim Glinski ’07

Majors: Business administration (marketing) and speech communication

Position: Social media manager for RAM Racing in Buffalo Grove, Ill., a premier event production company in the endurance sports industry. RAM organizes 25+ endurance events across the country, most notably the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k. The Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Chicago has 45,000 runners each year.

Responsibilities: I am the social media voice of RAM Racing and Hot Chocolate 15k/5k, by assembling, creating and monitoring content for company websites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social media channels. I’m in charge of paid social media advertising including Facebook ads, Facebook retargeting and other paid advertising platforms. I also write press releases to pitch to targeted markets.

The best part: There’s something new every day. My job is constantly evolving due to trends and new technology.

Looking back: Honestly, when I graduated I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I started in technology sales with some friends. Careers in social media didn’t exist when I graduated. Facebook didn’t even come out until my sophomore year (I feel old). Before getting a job in social media, I started as a brand ambassador for several triathlon-related companies. I promoted their products through my own social media. After doing that for a few years, my friend Kira Brabeck (Class of 2010) got me an interview with her company to be in charge of social media — the first for the company. The skills that got me hired are what I believe are most important for a career in social media — being flexible, customer-focused and data-driven. I’ve had a career in social media for more than six years, and I still love it every day.


Jennifer Woodruff Tait ’92

Education: Bachelor’s in English and music, a master’s in library science and a M.Div. and a Ph.D. in religious studies

Position: Content editor for The High Calling at the Theology of Work Project in Boston and managing editor of Christian History magazine in Pennsylvania (but I work remotely from Richmond, Ky.)

Responsibilities: As content editor for The High Calling, I manage social media for the website and send out a weekly e-newsletter. I will also, once a data migration is complete, be tagging over 3,000 articles and integrating them with content already existing on the Theology of Work Project website.

The best part: I enjoy writing, editing, organizing things, getting people content that is relevant to them, and meeting deadlines.

Looking back: I intended to be a United Methodist pastor. Today I am a bi-vocational clergyperson… I am a priest in the Episcopal Church. I have a small part-time parish. Writing, editing and organizing, which I have been doing all my life (including at Augie where I was a reporter for the Observer) are very important to all my jobs!