Hamline News

liberal arts alumni

The liberal arts in action

Alumni put their Hamline educations to work in a variety of career paths

By Marla Holt


Savannah Dotson Hanson ’14
Software engineer, Digital River
Bachelor’s degrees in history and music

Savannah Dotson’s varied interests led her to coursework in theater, philosophy, religion, and English. She also was an RA, earned a Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate, and worked at the ITS help desk.

Her seemingly disparate majors of history and music, as well as her study of French, came together in her honors thesis, in which she examined the use of historical allegory in French composer Étienne Méhul’s operas. She gave a lecture concert, performing arias from several of Méhul’s compositions, and presented her research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

“My experiences at Hamline taught me about conflict resolution, how to question and challenge assumptions, how to problem solve, and how to be a better writer and researcher,” Dotson said. Her tech experience with Hamline’s help desk led to an internship in software test automation at RedBrick Health, a health technology and services company in Minneapolis. Now she’s a software engineer at Digital River, which provides e-commerce solutions to businesses worldwide. Dotson writes code that searches for bugs in the company’s clients’ websites.

“My work involves solving logic puzzles, which is similar to what I loved about studying music theory,” she said.

Carrie Hefte ’81
Senior company counsel, Wells Fargo
Bachelor’s degree in English

Some say English isn’t a practical major. Carrie Hefte would disagree. She followed in the footsteps of her father—also an English major who went on to become a successful lawyer. “I would argue that getting a liberal arts education is the epitome of ‘practical,’” Hefte said. “It gave me critical thinking skills and the confidence to learn new areas of the law.”

Hamline also helped her acquire the stamina she needed for success.

“That lesson came not in the classroom but in the swimming pool,” said Hefte, a member of the 1980 and 1981 Division III National Championship teams and the Hamline Athletic Hall of Fame.

Hefte went to law school, then worked as a bankruptcy and litigation attorney before becoming an intellectual property attorney at Wells Fargo.

“A significant part of my job is to make sure all 259,000 Wells Fargo employees know how to avoid infringing on other companies’ copyright and trademark rights,” she said.

Hefte is president of the Piper Athletic Association board of directors and a frequent table host at the annual Women in Sports luncheon. She established the Carrie Hefte Women in Leadership Annual Scholarship for students who exhibit leadership in cocurricular activities.
—Julie Carroll

Aaron Rupar ’06
Associate editor, politics and policy, Vox Media
Bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and political science

Hamline’s philosophy program helped Aaron Rupar delve into the abstraction of deeper questions—what we mean when we say we know something, for example. He found the department’s emphasis on the history and social context of ideas useful, noting that “philosophical questions are rooted in society.”

That desire to dig deeper and provide context to ideas drives Rupar in his job as an associate editor for the politics and policy team at Vox Media in Washington, D.C.

“I explain and interpret the news to give readers a broader understanding of political events beyond a tweet or a viral video,” he said.

Rupar, who also holds a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Minnesota, said his liberal arts education at Hamline prepared him well for a career in journalism, including stints with City Pages and the website ThinkProgress, as well as communications work for the DFL.

“I learned critical thinking across a broad base of knowledge,” Rupar said, adding that it has enhanced his ability to contextualize current politics in ways that his readers find illuminating.

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