Liberal Arts = Communication Skills and a Valuable Toolkit
Hunter Sandidge ’15
Now: Forecasting and modeling for Rockford, Illinois-based UTC Aerospace Systems.
Takeaway: “You can be good at your job, but if you can’t communicate with other people, you’re not going to go anywhere.”
For a Carthage alum whose client list as a financial analyst for a Fortune 50 company includes NASA and the Department of Defense, Hunter Sandidge ’15 seems just as eager to gush about the College’s Western Heritage program.
Sure, he heard other business-minded students grumble about having to read key texts by Plato, Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson, and others. But Hunter, who does forecasting and modeling for Rockford, Illinois-based UTC Aerospace Systems, looks back on the two-semester freshman sequence as an inseparable part of his finance degree.
“Western Heritage was probably the most valuable set of courses I took outside my major,” he said.
It taught Hunter more than just how the world works. Along with religion, science, and other requirements laid out in the Carthage Plan, the deep-probing Heritage discussions helped him to understand why things operate the way they do: what motivates people, the roots of today’s world political systems, etc.
Plus, those classes prodded him to meet classmates from other majors — and to see the world from their perspective. Working with a diverse clientele in the corporate world, Hunter pulls from that toolkit daily.
“If you don’t have that exposure coming into the work setting, you’re going to have communication problems,” he said.
Graduates emerging from larger business schools often lack that experience, Hunter warns.
“You can be good at your job, but, if you can’t communicate with other people,” he said, “you’re not going to go anywhere.”
The realization of how deeply Carthage’s liberal arts foundation helped him came gradually and subtly — and not just at the office.
“It’s as much about personal development as it is about professional development,” he said, adding that “the true test of a liberal arts education is the ability to hold a meaningful conversation with anyone you sit next to on an airplane.”
That worked on a recent flight. Hunter felt knowledgeable enough to strike up a fascinating chat with a seatmate who happened to be a practicing Sikh.
The College also stresses interdisciplinary study, and a J-Term study tour to Guatemala — a Carthage Symposium meshing the unique combo of professors Timothy Eckert (chemistry) and Edward Montanaro (economics/modern languages) — shaped Hunter’s approach to life. He adopted the Guatemalan saying, “Eat dessert first, because you never know when you’re going to die.”
Given the classified nature of some UTC clients, Hunter can’t reveal much about specific projects — except that his work sometimes touches on the developing mission to Mars. As for his own life mission? That got off to a near-perfect launch.
“I’m very happy with my college education,” he said, “and I’m not sure a lot of people can say that.”