In the Loop
Alumni News : May 6, 2020

Alumni write to the Class of 2020

By Marissa Secades (BA THEATRE ‘18, BA ENGLISH ‘18, MAMC ‘20)

In the weeks leading up to spring graduation, we asked our alumni to share their best advice and the lessons they’ve learned since graduating from UF. While recent graduates are facing circumstances much different than our alumni had to, graduation always brings feelings of excitement and anxiety. Alumni from classes that span over 60 years and nearly every degree in the College of the Arts sent in responses.  Here’s what they had to say:

“Follow your passion to create. The arts are essential to wellness.”
Judith Raab, MA Arts in Medicine 2018

“Success is what you make of it. It is not the same to everyone and that’s truly beautiful. We are each our own artist, painting the tapestry of our own lives, with whatever colors and materials that we have available.”
Stephanie Denise Silberman, BA History of Art 2007 

“Ask your advisor or teacher how you can start making a living after you graduate and learn what are the steps to reach your goal—whatever it is that you want to become.”
Robert Briele, BM Music (Composition) 2017

“I met my wife Anne at UF. We had our first date at Gator Growl. When I picked her up for our date, she was in the same room that I was in my first year. East Hall had converted to a women’s dorm—an amazing coincidence! We celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary next July. My college roommate Paul is still my best friend. We will both be Grand Guard members this year. Even though I have attended other universities, UF is my alma mater. My advice: It is not just getting your degree. Find ways to remain connected. Many of my professors have passed away or retired. I have grown to know many of the new professors at the School of Music. You are truly a Gator for life. Go Gators!”
Frank Howes, BM Music Education 1970

“It’s all about the journey, the work, and the richness you surround yourself with.”
Yvonne Murphy Love, BD Art Education 1990

“There are no mistakes in life. Every experience you have—big or small, good or bad—molds you into the person you are today. As I look back over the years, I have learned to find the lessons in what each experience brought to me. Within them I found perseverance, determination, courage, and vulnerability. Life is unpredictable but that is what makes it fun. Just know each day that your vision and plans go one way and life takes you in another, it is all part of the journey. Keep going. Am I where I thought I would be when I graduated? No. Is it so much better than I imagined? Yes. Did I trust the journey? Totally.”
LaKenya Kopf, BFA Theatre Production (Costume Design) 2002

“Keep doing what you love, find work where you can. Always be open to opportunities and make connections. Be humble, ask for help, reach out. You may have a plan, but never let that stop you from taking a chance. Keep sharpening your skills and learn from others even if it isn't in the art world. Experience everything you can. Listen, learn and grow. You may wind up where you wanted to be or somewhere else you never thought you would be.”
Robert B Mack, BFA Graphic Arts 1993

“Now more than ever, trust your passion and inner guidance. Don't allow fear to dictate your life for you. Remember that Earth is abundant, the Universe has your back and that you can make your dreams a reality.”
Benita Silver, BA Art 1979

“First, as Shakespeare taught us, to thine own self be true. Pay attention to your heart and desires; and ignore those who tell you that you can’t change the world. Indeed, you can. Second, know your history. For example, I'm a lesbian. We queer folk have a long, rich history. People need to know that we didn’t just pop out of a bar last Thursday night. Learning our history IS resistance and you need to know it. Third, be an ally for all, even the ones you don’t like very much. And when you hear someone describe someone in a disparaging way, speak out, because silence is consent. Fourth, support the UF College of the Arts. It’s through your donations that scholarships and services will be provided to students known to be leaders and best, just like you. Finally, open a 401K. Who knows what your retirement options will be in the future. Plan ahead.”
Ronni Sanlo, BM Music Education 1969

“Be open to the possibility that your path might not be something you can see right now. The traditional catalogue of careers that have been presented to you are not all that's out there. You can be your own boss. You can freelance full-time and still achieve financial success. You can do something completely unrelated to your degree if it makes you happy, and that's ok. I mean, what was it all for if we don't pursue work that we love?”
Macy Schmidt, BA Music (Music Theory) 2018

“Continue your education, be a lifelong learner. Do the things you love. Travel as much as you can, as often as you can afford.”
Kim DeWitt Paff, BA Art 1975

“Find that one thing you want to do in life more than anything else, then get people to pay you to do it.”
Daniel Shouse, BD Art 1960

“Be resilient. During this transition, you may realize the structure your undergrad education provided now disappears. You may have to self designate a schedule or assign your own artistic endeavors or network with strangers to participate in projects. Any uncertainty that presents itself will reward you with an abundance of opportunities if you remain resilient.”
Jacquelyn Pritz, BFA Dance 2018, BS Business Administration (Marketing) 2018

“Whatever you do, spend your days as creators of a better world—every space you work in needs your care. Every job and course is a learning experience: make self-reflection part of your daily practice (not self-bullying). Find some mentors. And take over. We need you and your open, critical, creative and bright minds out and about. You amaze us older folks.”
Elizabeth King, BA Art History 2012, MS Business Administration (Management) 2013

“Remember who you are, and never never give up!”
Zackery Ryan, BFA Theatre Production (Costume Design) 2013

“Prioritize and make your life easier by spreading out big projects over time. Relax, everything happens for a reason. Other opportunities are always around the corner and will arise at the perfect time. Enjoy what is in front of you and always be grateful. Congratulations and Chomp On! Go Gators!”
Alexandra Hawkins, BM Music Education 2015