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Alumnae panelists speak about value of liberal arts degrees at Reunion

(From left) Macon Foster McCrossen '61, Gwen Beattie '01, and Alison Buckley '91 served as panelists for a Careers Through the Years discussion as part of the 2016 Reunion.

(From left) Macon Foster McCrossen ’61, Gwen Beattie ’01, and Alison Buckley ’91 served as panelists for a Careers Through the Years discussion as part of the 2016 Reunion.

Alison Buckley ’91 likes to think of her liberal arts education as the ultimate cross-fit training experience that prepared her for success in the marathon of life.

“It’s a combination of cardio, strength, stretching, and flexibility that will, in the long-run, make you more fit and a better athlete,” she said.

Buckley was one of three alumnae panelists who addressed classmates and current students Friday morning as part of the College’s 2016 Reunion weekend. She is associate vice president for Enrollment Services at Howard Community College in Maryland, where she oversees the Office of Admissions, academic advising, financial aid, and more. She also chairs the Maryland Association of Community Colleges Chief Student Affairs Officers.

A classics and history major at R-MWC, Buckley discovered a new passion for business in a previous position at the University of Maryland, where she decided to pursue her MBA. In addition to preparing her to write well and think critically, Buckley believes another benefit of a liberal arts background is exposure to a wide range of subjects outside of students’ comfort zones.

“The education provided by Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, and that continues here at Randolph College, prepared me to be unafraid of trying to learn something that was hard and that made my head ache,” Buckley said. “A commitment to the liberal arts means that in class, as in life, you may not always get an A; however, the confidence to explore the unknown and the difficult is much better preparation for a career.”

Macon Foster McCrossen '61

Macon Foster McCrossen ’61

Gwen Beattie ’01, another panelist, also credited the College for making her a lifelong learner. She is vice president of Think Freely Media, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the communication and marketing skills of free market office holders, candidates, policymakers, and activists across the nation. She previously served as deputy vice president of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity and as director of development and communications at the Washington Legal Foundation. In 2013, she founded a home baking business where she has baked numerous cakes and cupcakes, as well as more than 2,500 cookies in her own kitchen.

She said the College’s small class sizes and her involvement in organizations like Student Government and the Judiciary Committee improved her confidence and helped her develop leadership skills needed to succeed in her career.

“I had opportunities here that I wouldn’t have had anywhere else,” she said. “I learned how to work with people from a variety of backgrounds to work together to accomplish goals. And the small classes didn’t let you hide, so you were expected to come to class and share your opinions.”

A political science major, Beattie joked that the only thing her liberal arts education did not prepare her for was accounting. “I would not trade my experience here for anything,” she said. “It definitely set me on a career path that I never would have imagined.”

The third panelist, Macon Foster McCrossen ’61, has enjoyed a career in the legal system. After graduating from R-MWC with a degree in German, she earned her master’s degree from the University of New Mexico and a juris doctor degree from the University’s School of Law.

McCrossen began her career at the Peace Corp.’s national office in Washington, D.C. as a secretary. She went on to work on multiple political campaigns and became a board member of the ACLU of New Mexico. For several years she served as a civil rights attorney and public defender before her retirement. She continues to work as a guardian in children’s court.

Like Beattie, McCrossen said her R-MWC education gave her needed confidence and leadership skills that helped her overcome sexism when she entered the workforce in the 1960s.

“I think it taught me that I could learn anything, and I could do anything,” she said. “It taught me and others to do the right things in our lives and to express our opinions without looking over our shoulders.”

For more information and photos from the 2016 Reunion, please visit

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