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Alumna Profile: Amanda Colegrove

As a continuing education student majoring in geography and sociology, Aquinas alumna, Amanda Colegrove, had a specific plan to achieve her dream job and she followed the necessary steps to make sure she reached her goals. Playing a significant role in her pathway to success was Colegrove’s decision to attend Aquinas College.

Geography and environmental studies professor, Dr. Richard McCluskey, had Colegrove in several classes throughout her time at Aquinas. “Amanda came to Aquinas from Grand Rapids Community College (we receive transfer students interested in geography every year from GRCC),” said McCluskey. “What stood out about Amanda was that she knew what she wanted to do with her degree from day one. She was interested in getting a good undergraduate background in geography so that she could move on to receive an assistantship from a graduate program to study human trafficking.”

Colegrove’s advisor at Grand Rapids Community College suggested that she continue her studies at Aquinas because the college is excellent in preparing its students for graduate school. Colegrove is thankful that she did decide to take her advisor’s advice and attend Aquinas. Colegrove said that the amount of reading required at Aquinas and the quantity of papers students have to write in conjunction with the quality expected from the professors is key to preparing students for graduate school. “Grad school is more reading than one can imagine, but it didn't seem that bad after graduating from Aquinas,” said Colegrove. “In fact, it wasn't that big of a step up.”

After graduating from Aquinas in 2011, Colegrove attended the University of Missouri for graduate school where she graduated this past May.

Colegrove’s many years of education and determination paid off. She recently achieved her goal and landed the job that she had been working towards. She is the St. Louis Rescue & Restore Coalition Organizer at Catholic Charities of St. Louis. “My job is to educate the public, law enforcement, healthcare professionals, and anyone else about human trafficking: what it is, how to recognize it, and what to do if you come across it. I work with many agencies and individuals in the St. Louis area to put forth a unified effort against human trafficking,” said Colegrove.

Colegrove praises Aquinas for providing her with the tools for success in graduate school, the career world, and everyday life. The college knows how to teach its students to be successful, period. Colegrove said, “Aquinas was great at developing analytical skills, which are necessary in today's world. There's a lot of information racing around and you have to be able to decipher what is useful and what is not quickly or to recognize when things are not as the media portrays them. Aquinas also helped polish my communication skills. All that writing becomes useful when I have to communicate my message to such diverse audiences.”

McCluskey is proud to hear that Colegrove reached her goal and ended up in the career path that she was determined to enter. “It is rare that we get a student with such a specific career path in mind, but there was no stopping Amanda,” said McCluskey. “After getting funding from the University of Missouri, she continued her studies and is now doing exactly what we talked about almost five years ago. The fact that she is doing something very important and meaningful makes me happy that we were able to be part of the process.”