Don’t let your degree define you — that’s your job

Annie Warsaw

I have a B.A. in history and women’s studies. I have an M.A. in history.

I am not a historian.

Six years ago I graduated from Roosevelt with my master’s, tears on my face and anxiety radiating throughout my body. I was terrified to leave RU. I was a big fish in a small pond. I thrived in the small intimate atmosphere and frankly had no idea what I was going to do with myself.

In retrospect, getting a master’s in history was one of the best decisions I could have made. Sure, an MBA might have been more practical (I still don’t know Excel), but my degree taught me how to be an independent thinker. It taught me how to challenge convention, to see beyond what is obvious.

Warshaw speaking to students
Warshaw speaking to students

Following my time at Roosevelt, I joined Teach for America. I am driven to make the world a more equitable place for women and girls and while I knew my work in my classroom was important, I did not feel fulfilled. While in the classroom I witnessed first-hand the anxiety and struggles my second grade girls were facing. I recognized an opportunity to provide girls a space to explore their identity and emotions, and thus Mission Propelle was born.

I co-founded Mission Propelle, a girl empowerment yoga and reading program that runs in after-school settings in more than 70 schools in Chicago. In just three years we have impacted thousands of girls and have created over 100 original storybooks. On the surface my role as CEO is not linked to my degree, but when I look closer my master’s was the perfect stepping stone to my current role.

Warshaw practicing yoga with a group of girls as part of Mission Propelle
Warshaw practicing yoga with a group of girls as part of Mission Propelle

Through my master’s program and Teach For America, I was made keenly aware of my strengths and deficits. I am not made to work for someone else — I am a big picture problem-solver. I am a connector, an enthusiastic social justice vigilante. Creating a company allows me the platform to be myself and to utilize my skills while making an impact.

You may be graduating this month or next year. You may have thought, “How the heck am I going to use my degree to get a job?” I challenge you to shift your internal speak and ask how you yourself are you going to leverage the skills you‘ve acquired in school to help you take the position you want? How are you going to utilize resources and contacts within Roosevelt to land an interview at the company or nonprofit you have been eyeballing?

“Your degree is just that — a degree. The skills acquired, contacts made and personal growth you undergo while in school is invaluable.”

Your degree is just that — a degree. The skills acquired, contacts made and personal growth you undergo while in school is invaluable. Savor your last moments at school and approach the next phase of your life with confidence and grace. You have the tools and knowledge, now put them into practice!

Interested in learning more about Mission Propelle? Email annie@missionpropelle.com.

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