Posted on Tuesday, August 18, 2020
B.A., English • Psychology minor
Thomas Fields' Westminster education provided him with a solid foundation for a successful career. The strong interdisciplinary skills Fields developed as an English major at Westminster College have opened many professional doors for him. Today the 2014 alumnus is the graduate and professional enrollment marketing specialist for Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
Why did you choose Westminster College?
I chose Westminster College after meeting an admissions counselor at a college fair. I enjoyed the conversation and felt motivated to apply. Once I received my acceptance letter, I was sold. I attended the “Spring Fling” a couple months later and fell completely in love with the campus. I loved that it was close to home (Youngstown). Also, I felt like Westminster was a good fit for me because it was a smaller school and the transition to college would go a lot smoother for me because of the individualized attention I would soon receive.
What have you been up to since graduating from Westminster?
Since graduating, I earned my master’s in interdisciplinary communication from Youngstown State University (2016) and I've been building my career in higher education—specifically marketing and communications. Whenever I'm not working, I am busy traveling with friends or working on my creative writing. I also did a stage play!
How well did Westminster prepare you for your career?
Westminster taught me how to be “hustler.” As an English major, my professors constantly assured me that I could be anything I wanted to be, that I could do anything with my English degree. I used that confidence when applying for various marketing/communications positions. I walked into every interview knowing that the interdisciplinary skills I gained from my coursework would aid me in being successful in whatever role I was pursuing. Strong communication skills, both written and verbal, have opened plenty of doors for me in my career. Also, being involved on campus taught me valuable leadership, project management and networking skills.
How would you describe the level of academics you experienced during your time at Westminster College?
My classes were pretty intense! My English professors taught me work ethic. They all pushed me to be better while being there to catch me if I fell—and they encouraged me to keep going. Strong academics is one of Westminster’s pillars and the dedicated faculty are there to help you along the way.
What Westminster professors influenced you the most and why?
Dr. David Swerdlow and Dr. Deborah Mitchell are two of my biggest influences. Dr. Swerdlow taught me so much about passion and creativity. It's inspiring watching him talk about metaphor or gaining meaning from literature. He’s literally been a guiding force since day one. I changed my major to English the first day of orientation week, and Dr. Swerdlow walked me to the registrar’s office to change my major and took me to Thompson-Clark Hall to meet my new advisor. Dr. Mitchell helped sharpen my analytical skills. She was my toughest English professor because she made me work for my grades. She challenged me to dig deeper, find stronger arguments, to really focus my writing. She was a role model of professionalism. She helped me believe that writing will lead me to that dream job.
What internships or student research projects did you conduct during your time at Westminster?
I was a PR/marketing intern for Big Brothers Big Sisters my senior year. I helped with the coordination of their largest fundraiser, Bowl for Kids’ Sake. I also had a marketing/communications internship at the Parkinson’s Foundation of Western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh.
Did you participate in any organizations or activities when you were a student?
I was president of my fraternity, Alpha Sigma Phi, and was a member of the Black Student Union, the Student Government Association, the Student Alumni Association and the Psychology Club. I wrote for the student yearbook and the newspaper. I also was an office assistant in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
What makes the Westminster College experience unique?
The family atmosphere. Because Westminster’s campus is so small, everyone knows everyone—and everyone is willing to help. I never knew people could be so friendly in one place. I think that campus morale was encouraging and supportive. I am definitely grateful for that experience.
What significant life lesson did you learn at Westminster?
Success comes after hard work and preparation. At times in undergrad, I think that I could have worked a little harder and been more prepared. But I also know that I would come to bloom in my own time. Your life isn't defined by four years or by a degree. You define your life every single day by the choices you make. I’m happy to say that the choices I’ve made after college led me to being successful.
Why should a prospective student consider coming to Westminster College?
Students should consider Westminster because Westminster is fertile ground for chasing your dreams. There are so many opportunities at Westminster from studying abroad to experiential learning. I’ve seen students win national awards alongside professors, publish research and travel the globe. Westminster is a place dedicated to the success of its students. The connections you’ll make are invaluable. Trust and believe, you will run into a Westminster College alum wherever you go. That Titan Pride is something that sticks with you for life, and you will always find a friend of the college to help guide you on your way.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself on that first day on campus?
I wish I would’ve push myself harder in college. I didn’t find my stride until I hit grad school, but I always knew what I wanted to do professionally. I would tell myself on that first day to not limit myself, to think beyond the possible for myself and to ask for help a lot of sooner. What held me back is not asking for help, not asking for career guidance sooner.
How has Westminster’s alumni network benefited you in your job search or career?
I attended several Professional Networking Symposiums and had the opportunity to meeting many marketing professionals. Most of my professional references are people I met at Westminster, so in a way, I owe them for helping me land my current position.
To learn more about Westminster’s English major, please visit www.westminster.edu/english.