Liz Bilkert Hadley

Wheaton College Alumna Liz Bilkert Hadley Graduation Year:  2014

Major:  Anthropology 

Why did you choose Anthropology

I always felt a great ease and comfort in being with people from backgrounds and experiences that differed from mine. Language, custom, gender, and religious differences never stumped me but rather enlivened me. Anthropology spoke to this particularity of mine and gave me a foundation from which to actually do work in the world based on these interests.

How did that affect your career choice?
I knew I would always work with and for people – to do peace work, not pay check work. Anthropology gave me the framework to see issues that unearth peace and the tools to enter into these situations to offer paths of peace. 

How and why did you choose to follow your path after graduation? 

My path after graduation was a step-by-step movement towards something I knew to be most meaningful to me – working with vulnerable populations. As usual it involved an unpaid but fantastic internship and some part time REI work to pay bills, but I kept being persistent that I would not give up on finding what’s meaningful and actually making movement in the world.

What are you doing now and what does that type of job look like?
I work as an employment specialist with World Relief in Seattle where I connect local companies with employee candidates from the local and burgeoning refugee population. I love what I do – getting to walk with families along the path to financial self-sufficiency and witness healing, confidence, and peace grow as they re-start their lives here in America. These individuals and families have been through unbelievable circumstances and I’m honored to help open up doors for them to make steps towards a peaceful and whole life.

I get to educate employers on refugee and cultural issues, help businesses grow, and help families get on their feet in their new country. (And then drink tea with Afghans, go thrifting with Iraqis and ride bikes with Somalis.)

What type of work experiences built to bringing you to the place you are now?
After graduating, I interned with a refugee resettlement agency in Indianapolis and there began my understanding of refugee work. After many cover letters and persistence, I began a full time job at a resettlement agency in Denver…which ended up closing after only a few months of me starting (but when is post-college ever perfect?). I stayed flexible and hopeful and moved to Seattle to accept a position with World Relief. Your experiences are all linked – some are difficult but still very much a part of your story to be acknowledged and thanked.

What advice could you give a potential major? 

Take time to think about the themes you see moving in and out of your life. Studying these themes and being faithful to their cultivation can offer much clarity and energy for your life’s work.

Have meals with your professors, seek genuine friendship with fellow majors, and be an intern!