For the W&M Policy Careers Chat program, I had the opportunity to speak with Judy Lorimer, who graduated from William & Mary with a BA in public policy and also has a Masters of International Affairs degree from Columbia University. Ms. Lorimer is currently Director of #DegreesNYC, which is one branch of the Goddard Riverside Community Center in Manhattan, NY. This impressive organization provides services in 27 program areas to over 20,000 people in New York. Ms. Lorimer’s work at Goddard’s #DegreesNYC program focuses on higher education and helping people of color and low-income youth gain access to and finish post-secondary education. Ms. Lorimer and her team collaborate with a youth council made up of students and other young adults, and she spends much of her time building relationships with others within and outside of the Goddard Community Center. Whether her work is accomplished through fundraising initiatives or by helping to facilitate ideas and solutions to increase the number of people completing higher education, her role requires someone who is personable, savvy, and a leader. From my 30-minute conversation with her, it was clear that she exudes all three of these qualities, as well as passion for what she does.
What I found most interesting was that Ms. Lorimer felt certain experiences throughout her life did or did not help her in unexpected ways. For example, she found that religion classes at William & Mary, while unrelated to most of her professional experiences, were really meaningful and prepared her well for post-grad life. Similarly, some of her extracurricular experiences on campus had nothing to do with her specific work at the Goddard Center, but were within a social justice framework and therefore still carried meaning in her professional life. On the other hand, she shared that going to graduate school did not particularly help her career in terms of job offers nor skillset. As a result of her own experiences, she encourages current students to have an open mind and realize that many types of academic opportunities can provide different benefits, even if they are not directly related to a student’s future plans.
The advice that I found to be most helpful was to get involved in many opportunities outside of the academic sphere. I have always really enjoyed being in student clubs and organizations and hearing how impactful these experiences were on Ms. Lorimer in her professional life was very encouraging to me as a young student. Additionally, her experiences at William & Mary reminded me of the skills I could build through extracurriculars that are much harder to get in the classroom (especially a virtual classroom!). When sharing about her own college career, she pointed out how a college campus is a smaller space than the “real” world, and that it is much easier to be involved and become part of a community.
I am so glad to have had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Lorimer and hear about her time at William & Mary, as well as her impressive accomplishments. To learn more about the Goddard Riverside Community Center and its life changing work, please click this link: https://goddard.org