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LAS grad lands in her field of dreams

| Erin Finneman

For many students, the idea of moving into the real world can be a bit frightening. Countless questions arise when nearing such a huge transition. Will I find a job in my field? How will I pay for everything? How will I find an opportunity that interests me?

All of these questions and many more crossed the mind of Erin Kelly as she neared graduation last spring, but her ambition and dedication allowed her to find her field of dreams.

After graduating from UW-Eau Claire with a degree in Latin American studies, minors in Spanish and international business relations and a certificate in advanced business communication, Erin was thrilled to land an internship position with the Minnesota Twins. Erin has been working on diversity marketing for the team, and her duties have ranged from writing articles and scripts about Latin American players to coordinating a Jackie Robinson-themed literacy program in local elementary schools in the Twin Cities.

Erin’s interest in baseball does not take a backseat to her interest in cultural studies; both have been important to her for a long time.

“I grew up going to baseball games and TwinsFest every year,” Erin said. “I loved the game so much and still do. My interest in playing softball growing up has even carried over into my after college life. I still play in a league, but now I’m also able to go to work and be a team player for my favorite team.”

However, even in her postgraduate success, she recalls that many people doubted the job potential with a degree like Latin American studies.

“People are skeptical about a major like LAS. They don’t think it’s going to be as relevant as a major in something like science or technology,” Erin said.

Skeptics couldn’t get in her way, though, because Erin knew her education would make her a good candidate with the increasing demand for diversity and intercultural initiatives in businesses. She didn’t hesitate to defend the degree that helped her secure her internship.

“Science and technology are very important, but so are international affairs and intercultural communication,” Erin said. “If you don’t know how to adapt and interact with emerging markets, your static skills in a globalizing workplace become irrelevant.”

Erin’s versatile educational background has allowed her to be a valuable asset to the Minnesota Twins diversity marketing team. Without the skills she gained at UW-Eau Claire, it would have been difficult for Erin to adapt so quickly.

Along with providing her a great education, UW-Eau Claire also connected Erin to some amazing mentors. One of Erin’s primary motivators during her college career was her academic advisor, Dr. Analisa DeGrave, associate professor of Latin American studies. She saw huge potential in Erin from day one, and she was willing to challenge Erin in ways that would eventually help her excel.

“I remember Erin being one of my most organized advisees,” DeGrave said. “She was so on top of things that she was able to finish her major in Latin American studies long before she was able to graduate. So I started to encourage her to pursue other interests as well.”

DeGrave’s encouragement helped Erin explore her interests in marketing and business in addition to Latin American studies. From the very beginning, she also noticed Erin’s love for the game of baseball.

“She would always come into my office donning some sort of baseball attire. I thought her obvious interest in baseball could definitely lead her somewhere. Latin American players are huge in the sport, and tying her studies into her love for the game would be an awesome way for her to really do something she’s passionate about,” DeGrave said.

DeGrave’s reinforcement combined with the quality liberal arts education experience at UW-Eau Claire were definitely important building blocks in Erin’s career. And the questions about Erin’s decision to major in Latin American studies can be put to rest.

The Minnesota Twins have proved to be a perfect fit for not only Erin’s career goals, but also for her personality. “I love that the organization’s mission is both competitive and closely involved with the community,” Erin said.

Following one’s passion in college can be difficult and scary, especially when a lot of time and money is being invested to earn a degree. Erin is a perfect example of why those passions should never be put to rest. With a good education and hard work, anything can be achieved.

DeGrave remembers hearing about Erin’s dream to work for the Minnesota Twins for the first time. Her only advice to Erin was, “Go for it.” Now she wants to encourage other students to do the same.

“See what you want and go get it,” DeGrave said.

Erin is thrilled she took DeGrave's advice, and she is happy to put the education she worked so hard for into play every day.

Photo caption: Erin Kelly stands proudly in front of Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins. Erin is working as an in intern in the marketing department for the Twins this season.