CMCers: Once Students, Now Staff

By Lori Kozlowski ’00

Over 30 alumni of Claremont McKenna College have returned to campus to become part of CMC’s faculty or staff. While some return to campus for a specific career opportunity, others find excitement in the chance to give back to the CMC community. Some even find their dream job.

Here we’ve profiled three particular alumni, who see various facets of student life at the College. Mike Sutton ’76 is the director of athletics for Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS), and works with students as they develop their leadership skills on the fields and on the court. Christine Crockett ’01 is the associate director of the Center for Writing and Public Discourse, and works with students on their writing skills while they are on campus. Marisa Walter ’98 is the assistant director of external relations at The Robert Day School of Economics and Finance, and helps students to move on to gainful employment.

Looking back on more than thirty years at the College, Mike Sutton ’76 reflects on his career, “Initially my understanding of the academic demands and culture was a great assistance to me, as I found my way as a young college coach. Now I’m the old guy’ who has seen the changes of the past 30 years and appreciates the efforts made to achieve the institutional goals enabling CMC to offer the best possible educational experience and be valued as a leader in higher education.

“I am proud,” he continues, “of CMC for our growth from a startup’ to an institution that is highly regarded for providing a great environment for young people to launch their adult and professional lives.”

Sutton explains that being a student at CMC was about growing up and rising to meet challenges. During his undergraduate years, he worked at the Marian Miner Cook Athenauem, eventually becoming its student director. He also was a resident assistant, played water polo, and swam all four years.

“All of this engrained in me the value of opportunity, encouragement, challenge, and commitment to the success of the group,” he says.

Christine Crockett ’01 was a literature major. After graduation, she attended UC Riverside for eight years, working on a Ph.D. in English. During that time, she published her research and also taught undergraduate courses in English literature, writing, and gender studies.

“During my senior year at CMC I resolved to become a professor of English literature,” she says. “Given the fantastic education I had received, and the incredible mentors and faculty members who guided me through my undergraduate education, I hoped I could eventually teach English literature at a small liberal arts institution.

“You can imagine how thrilled I was when, after having taught at large academic institutions for nearly a decade, I read that CMC was seeking an associate director for the Center for Writing who could also teach undergraduate courses in literature,” she continues. “To say that this was my dream job would be an understatement.”

Her time on campus makes her think back to her days as a student, though she has grown.

“Working at CMC is intensely fulfilling and sweetly nostalgic,” she says. “It takes quite a bit of self will to keep from reminiscing about my time as an undergraduate, especially when I should be teaching, and I am not always successful. How could I be, when every corner of campus is meaningful to me in some way?”

Marisa Walter ’98 joined CMC’s staff most recently, in 2011.

Of the transition, she says, “Physically the campus has changed a bit, but many of my old haunts look very much the same. In all honesty, it is interesting being on the other side of the deskas a student, I never really had a feel for the inner-workings of the College, so the perspective I have now is a very different CMC than the one I knew when I was 20 years old.”

Walter’s route back to Claremont has taken her all over the world. Between her graduation and her job now, Walter has been: a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, a human capital consultant with Mercer, an English teacher in Japan through the JET program, and a senior recruiter at First Hawaiian Bank in Honolulu, Hawaii. She returned to Claremont to earn her master’s degree in education at CGU and taught English and economics at Wilson High School in Hacienda Heights before coming home to CMC to assume her current role at the Day School.

“I really feel that the function I perform on campus suits and excites me and gives me an opportunity to give back,” says Walter, a Claremont native. “I enjoy working with students, alumni, and employers, and melding mentoring, networking, and cultivating new relationships for the College.”