Evening & Weekend Studies

Winter 2012 Stories

Talking About Books:

Not Just for Oprah Anymore

By Tovi A. McClellan

Kurtis Dawson, YMCA - Grays Harbor Image
Kurtis Dawson, YMCA - Grays Harbor

Seminar is the common language spoken at Evergreen. Provocative conversations among EWS students are overheard in classrooms, on the bus, and from a patch of green grass on a hill overlooking the brick pathways of Red Square. Evergreen students and alumni will speak seminar for a lifetime.

“Seminar allowed me to sit down and have a conversation with people I never would have had the opportunity to meet,” says Kurtis Dawson, a 2003 graduate of EWS’s Grays Harbor program. As the CEO of the Grays Harbor YMCA, Dawson continues to use what he learned at Evergreen.” The first thing I did when I became CEO was to have all my staff read the same book. We have had seminars on about eight different books now, usually a book that focuses on leadership or business. We have discussed life experiences and built trusting relationships through our conversations about our shared reading.”

Lisa Swihart, Noetic Health Olympia Image
Lisa Swihart, Noetic Health - Olympia

EWS students participate in one continuous conversation throughout their course or program. “Seminar is like a big book group, “ says Frances Davis, a 2001 Evergreen grad and instructor at the EF International School of English located on the Evergreen campus. “Except it isn’t a group of friends that you have chosen. You get to talk with people of all ages and walks of life. The diversity of life experiences makes the conversation rich and interesting.”

Seminar begins as a conversation about a shared text and grows into an exchange of ideas, experiences and stories. “I have always loved to talk to people and hear their stories. Having important conversations in seminar helped me to value people’s opinions. This is one of the many skills I learned in seminar,” says Lisa Swihart a nutritional counselor, psychotherapist and owner of Noetic Health in Olympia. Swihart received her bachelor’s of science degree in biology from Evergreen in 2002, and a master of science in nutrition and clinical health psychology from Bastyr University in 2008. She chose Evergreen because she “knew that the interdisciplinary approach would work for me,” says Swihart who attended day programs her first year and then switched to evening and weekend classes. “I was working full-time and needed the flexibility of evening classes. Plus, I could tailor the classes to my needs.”

The experience of seminar embodies the best of what EWS has to offer – learning from shared experiences, student-focused discussions, an interdisciplinary approach, and a forum where real world experience is valued.

Tovi A. McClellan, 2011 EWS graduate, is a story catcher, a teacher and a soccer mom.