Where can you go with a liberal arts degree? What options are out there for Lawrence graduates? The Career Corner tells the stories of some alumni who have found answers to these questions and proves that, yes, there is a job out there for you.Ryan Tarpley came to Lawrence University convinced he wanted to become a lawyer. He graduated in 1993 and is now a dean of students at one of the country’s most prestigious preparatory schools.
Throughout a rather hectic nine years, Tarpley has learned to recognize opportunities that are right for him. Although his goals have changed and continue to change, Tarpley has relied upon what he views as the core values of the LU experience to maximize his choices and gain an edge in the grad school and job market.
During his sophomore year, the LU history major realized that his attraction to law was based largely on money. He became an RLA, though, and loved it. Close to graduation, he realized that he wanted to become a Residence Hall Director and that he had a passion for working in Student Personnel. He became an RHD at Willamette University.
Then, he went to Ohio State University for graduate work in higher education and also counseling. At grad school, Tarpley’s Lawrence Difference really began to show.
“I remember working very hard at Lawrence, and not being one of the better writers there,” said Tarpley.
However, in grad school he excelled at writing and oral communication, both of which he attributes to the Lawrence classroom environment. “I learned to develop the ability to speak in front of people, have an opinion, and share that opinion even when it’s not popular,” Tarpley said.
Lawrence also equipped Tarpley with hands-on experience in student affairs, especially as an RLA. “I was really able to affect things, and understand the way schools work,” he said.
He then became the Assistant Director of Admissions at Pomona College, LU Director of Admissions Steve Syverson’s alma mater, before moving to a similar postion at Cal Tech.
He currently resides in North Hollywood, is the Dean of Juniors and Seniors at Harvard Westlake Academy. His current job utilizes the skills he learned at Lawrence, allows him to pursue a wide variety of career paths.
“There are so many things I enjoy seeing myself doing in the future,” said Tarpley, adding that he wouldn’t mind becoming a therapist or counselor, or even an art curator. “There are lots of things I’d love to do before I die,” he concluded.