Thomas Gregovich also contributed to this story.
One of the strengths of the Professional Writing Program is its alumni. So many have gone on to do such interesting work. “While at Beer Rhetorics one night, Laura Julier was discussing the fact that PW students never get to see the alumni. I decided to take initiative and organize a field trip to go see alumna Sarah Aldrich,” said PW senior and Beer Rhetorics evangelist Ali White. Sarah Aldrich, currently the marketing coordinator at Founder’s Brewing Company, graduated from PW in May 2010.
It took Ali forever to find a date agreeable to all, but they finally settled on September 23rd, sign-up began, and as the date drew nearer, White approached Professor Danielle DeVoss about joining the field trip. She hopped right on board and offered to sponsor vans to take the students and faculty to Grand Rapids.
Founder’s Brewing Company is an award-winning craft brewery that began in the dreams of Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers. To accompish this dream, they quit their jobs and took out huge loans; a huge risk. After getting off to a shaky start, Engbers and Stevens decided to change up their strategy. Instead of brewing unremarkable beers that catered to all crowds, said Engbers, they decided to craft “complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics, bigger body, and tons of flavor,” says the Founders website. “[We] are brewing beer for a small cadre of renegades and rebels who enjoy a beer that pushes the limits.”
After arriving at downtown Grand Rapids, students and faculty met their tour leader and Founders creator, Dave Engvers. Along the tour, the group learned of the founding of the company, the brewing process, and the expansion of the brewery.
After the tour, they admired Sarah’s office, the really cool meeting room, and headed off to dinner in the taproom, courtesy of DeVoss, while enjoying delicious samples of beer. After dinner, some of the PWers headed into downtown Grand Rapids to check out ArtPrize, an annual art festival that hosts local artists.
“It was wonderful to tour the brewery and to see all of the art spread around the city. I can see why they call Grand Rapids the ‘shining star of Michigan’,” said resident mentor and TechSmith social media intern Ali White.
“As a senior, I was looking for a way to give back to the major beyond the supporting the established student groups,” said White. While at Beer Rhetorics one night, White decided to take on (another) title as PW Field Trip Coordinator and began organizing the first trip. This was about more than a field trip, though. “PW is a great program, but it only gives you the skills. We cannot expand our roles and knowledge without the help of others. We must rely on one another for networking and connections. We have the opportunity to be a powerful force in the information industry,” said White.
Although she has started work on the second PW field trip, Ali is looking for somebody to take over the position of PW Field Trip Coordinator after she graduates in December. If interested, contact Ali or Laura Julier for more details.