By: Nick Santangelo

Since first setting foot on the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) campus, Aurora Kripa, CLA ’05, has had an impressive journey to the C-suite.

Like many incoming students, Kripa was unsure of what her long-term plans were as a Temple freshman majoring in Psychology. She chose the major because of her interest in human behavior and wanted to learn more about why people act the way they do and make the decisions they make. Then, after taking advantage of a study abroad opportunity in Italy and being encouraged by her Italian professor, Kripa decided to add a second major in Italian. Since the two programs had the same electives, Kripa realized she could still graduate in just four years by simply taking a few extra summer courses.

But where was all this going? What sort of career could someone have with Psychology and Italian degrees from a liberal arts school? As Kripa would learn—just as so many other CLA graduates learn every year—your major doesn’t necessarily equal your career. You get out of your education and your career what you put into them. After spending seven years working in various roles for Jevs Human Services, Kripa used her experience and education (after graduating from CLA she went on to earn an MBA and then added a Master of Public Administration this year) to become CEO of a new Jevs subsidiary.

“Jevs wanted to increase its social impact through a new startup, a nonprofit home care agency that was different from what I was doing before,” explains Kripa. “And they were looking for someone to start it up and just run with it. 

“The COO asked me if I might be up for a new challenge.  We were standing in my executive director's office, and I said, ‘Sure, why not? What do I have to lose?’"

As it turned out, there was nothing to lose but much to be gained. Today, Kripa is still CEO of Jevs at Home, which provides in-home care for seniors and persons with disabilities.  But while it was Kripa who led the non-profit in its signing of thousands of clients within its first six weeks of existence in 2012, she insists that she “could have never accomplished any of this on [her] own.” It was the Jevs leadership team that first envisioned JEVS at Home and empowered Kripa to lead the new subsidiary.

Having the opportunity to pursue various areas of study is key

It’s unsurprising, then, that Kripa believes in the importance of having mentors and a support network. She’s found as much through Jevs and Temple. Between her colleagues and her professors, Kripa has gotten the pushes she’s needed throughout her life to advance her education and her career. Her advice to others is that “you need that person,” who will mentor you. Of course, she’s also still had to work hard for what she’s achieved.

“I've been extremely fortunate to have had certain people that have guided me. It's just being in the position I'm in now that was really life-changing for me,” she says. “It was a great opportunity that kind of came out of nowhere. But looking back on it, I worked really hard for years, and that was noticed.”

It’s not always intuitive for someone choosing what school to attend that a liberal arts education can one day lead to the C-suite. But College of Liberal Arts students learn how to become excellent communicators and critical thinkers—vital skills for any business leader. CLA loves seeing its undergraduate alumni continue their education with an MBA or other advanced degrees, as Kripa did. But for CLA students, the journey towards a successful career starts with a broad liberal arts education that challenges them to view the world from new perspectives and find creative solutions to problems.

“My professional foundation started with Temple,” says Kripa. “My college experience definitely gave me the solid foundation I needed to be successful. Temple is a great school, and I still remember one counselor I had who made such a positive impact on me. Life and education at Temple was a great experience overall.”

Her biggest takeaway? The ability to receive lessons and learn skills across disciplines.

“I think having the opportunity to pursue various areas of study is key,” says Kripa. “I was a psychology major, and I ended up doing something completely different, but I feel like I use that degree in everyday life.”

For Kripa, this style of learning across multiple fields of study was a freeing experience. Where a more rigid learning structure would have limited her potential, Kripa felt like she had the freedom to study what she wanted at CLA. She again references her ability to dual-major in Psychology and Italian, two seemingly unrelated subjects, and still earn her bachelor’s degree in just four years. Her only regret, she says, is not getting even more involved while she was here. It’s one of her top recommendations to new students. That, and finding someone to help guide you.

“Get involved in different activities when you're in school. Find an internship when you're there. Use the resources that are available to you, whether it's to find an internship or look for career opportunities. But, most importantly, try to identify and engage a mentor to actively guide you along your path. And you don’t have to limit yourself to just one. Having more than one mentor only enhances your learning experience and gives you expanded perspectives about your future.”

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