American Cleft Palate - Craniofacial Association

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Wendy’s Water Cooler Chat

Wendy-Jo ToyamaIn May, I attended the UNC Graduation of my great-nieces – among the more than 6,000 people who graduated at UNC that day. Interesting to note that 60 percent of the graduating class were women, and there were 645 undergrads who were the first in their families to go to college. Both statistics speak to the changing demographics in our country and provide uplifting messages about education and the future. Around the country notable people made commencement addresses. Awash in a sea of Carolina blue, I was struck by the endless possibilities each cap and gown represented.

UNC Chapel Hill 2017 graduation

Encouragingly, a recent Forbes article described the hiring outlook as optimistic: up 3 percentage points from a year ago with 83 percent of participants describing it as “good” to “excellent” for college graduates. The article cited that nonprofits were up 28 percent, government was up 33 percent, and healthcare and social assistance was up 38 percent. 

Career Builder did a study in 2013 that revealed “about one-third (31 percent) of college-educated American workers age 35 and older are never employed within their degree field.”[1] I was a liberal arts student, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art – Graphic Design from Indiana University. I worked in the field for the first few years of my career. But eventually, I went on to get a Master’s in Business Administration from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Graduate Management and moved into nonprofit and association management. I envision that many ACPA members knew that they were going into a medical field, but I am curious about how many knew they were going to work with cleft lip and palate and craniofacial anomalies. Among the UNC class of 2017, I wonder who in the seats will eventually have a story like yours – one that leads them to the profession and ACPA. 

How many of the graduates knew that the Chair of Commencement, Master of Ceremonies was one of our own members – Ron Strauss (at least two as I very excitedly told our great-nieces)? That he is working on a longitudinal study of resiliency among children born with cleft lip and palate? Or that they may one day pursue the field and join him as a member of ACPA? I like to think that with the employment growth cited in healthcare, government and nonprofits there were a few in the class who will … conduct research that will help us better understand the causes of cleft and ways to prevent it, …pioneer new techniques to repair various craniofacial anomalies and …work in nonprofits that provide vital support to affected patients and families in local areas or around the globe. 

So, if you have some time and want to be inspired, here is a link to five graduation speeches that USA Today deemed inspiring. I’ll let you be the judge.


References
1. Phillips, C. (2014). A Matter of Degree: Many College Grads Never Work in Their Major. Retrieved from http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/life/entertainment/story/2014/nov/16/matter-degree-many-college-grads-never-work-/273665/