Leveraging the Power of a Liberal Arts Education

Sarah Young '08Sarah Young ’08 believes in the power of a liberal arts education for women. From an early age, she has been empowered by mentors and advisers to pursue self-understanding through continuous reflection and critical inquiry. When it came time for her college search process, Young wanted to attend an institution that encouraged women to develop their intellects and talents. And, she found it at Scripps College.

While at Scripps, Young took full advantage of the robust, liberal arts curriculum available to her. During her first year, Young took courses in French, Core, and the social sciences. A course in European history sparked a keen interest in Young to pursue the field of study where she found exceptional mentors like Rita Roberts, the Nathaniel Wright Stephenson Chair in History and Biography and professor of history and Africana studies at Scripps, John Geerken, emeritus professor of history at Scripps, and Lisa Cody, associate professor of history at Claremont McKenna College.

“These outstanding faculty encouraged me to follow my passions,” Young says. “They taught me more about the subject matter and, more importantly, myself.”

These mentors not only advised Young with her coursework and thesis, but they also helped her become a better person. She was inspired by their knowledge and generosity. Young ultimately sought to become a college professor upon graduation from Scripps. After a year of teaching English in Japan, Young obtained graduate degrees in women’s studies from Oxford and British history from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.

Degrees in hand, Young immediately faced a personal dilemma. While she loved history and education, Young yearned for something different. She turned to her college mentors for advice and heard something that resonates with her to this day: “It’s okay to experiment in your career. Think about the intangible things that bring you joy.”

Young spent the next three months on a personal-interest research project in an attempt to better understand herself and her future. Since her graduate studies, Young wanted to identify the specific barriers preventing women from pursuing careers in computer science. Young met women software developers through her research. Conversations with these accomplished women encouraged her to consider a career in this expanding field.

“[I learned that] being a developer requires grit, strong communication skills, and problem-solving,” Young says. “These characteristics resonated with me, and I wanted to make change—I wanted to show the field that a woman with a liberal arts degree is valuable.”

Buoyed by additional research and support from friends and colleagues, Young enrolled in London’s Makers Academy, an accelerated 12-week programming bootcamp designed to create world-class computer developers. She excelled in the academy and soon found a career that’s right for her.

Through the exploration of her various interests and passions coupled with the guiding strength of women mentors, Scripps alumnae, and her liberal arts education, Young acquired the necessary skills to succeed in tech.

“My Scripps education helped me develop a strong foundation for critical thinking and communication,” Young says. “I was able to use the skills from the Scripps liberal arts curriculum to break into computer science. These tools and resources allowed me to see myself as a change agent.”

Currently, Young serves as a developer for Unruly, an innovative marketing and advertising company based in London. Unruly stands apart from other tech companies because of its dedication to a software development methodology called extreme programming (XP). XP promotes the values of communication, empathy, design simplicity, and a dedication to software as a craft.

And now, Young is looking to give back—she is thankful for her Scripps mentors and wants to ensure the next generation of Scripps graduates can follow their passions. Young would love to connect with individuals who are considering a career in tech or a complete career change. She leaves us with one last note: “Now, it’s more important than ever that we harness the power of a liberal arts education at a women’s college. The tech world needs more Scripps graduates!”

Sarah found her place at Scripps due to her exceptional peers and outstanding network of faculty mentors. Career Planning & Resources is looking for alums, family members, and friends to help our students prepare for “what’s next” after graduation. Visit their webpage for additional information on ways to get involved.