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Catching Up With Jillian McLaughlin '10

Jillian McLaughlin running cross country.

Class of 2010; Political Science major

Current Residence
Brooklyn, New York

Current Occupation
I am the Chief of Staff of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, which manages over 30k acres of land, over 800 athletic fields, 1,000 playgrounds, 1,800 basketball courts, and 14 miles of beaches.

Favorite Memory in Cross Country
My favorite memory actually encompasses an entire season. In my junior year at Kalamazoo College, I did not study abroad so I had an extra cross country season. It was a fantastic team that year – everyone really supported each other and we had a lot of fun. During the pre-season, we attended a camp in Northern Michigan and it was a great way to bond and run on really nice trails.

Competing at K
The opportunity to compete at the college level was incredible. I enjoyed the opportunity to continue training and establish deep relationships with my teammates. Sports brings you together in a different way than other kinds of friendships. You try to hold each other up in this collective enterprise.

In terms of preparation for the future, competing with a team prepares you to manage different personalities and to distinguish between what you can control and what you can't. Solid preparation is essential for success but occasionally your season is waylaid by an injury or another uncontrollable factor. How you respond to what you cannot control makes the difference.

Other Campus Involvements
I was an editor at The Index and I volunteered at a local school.

Other Meaningful Experiences
Writing my SIP with Dr. Amy Elman as my advisor was a formational experience. Dr. Elman was a great resource and supported my application for grant funding so I could travel to Spain to inform my work. The process of delving deeply into a subject and developing a new perspective was incredibly rewarding. That experience has given me the courage in my public policy career to not assume that every angle has been examined or that every solution has been considered which unlocks creativity!

I also did an independent study with Dr. Gary Gregg and he is a wonderful, incredibly generous mentor. I learned so much from him about political psychology.

Athletic Accomplishments
Jillian earned All-MIAA First Team honors in 2006, 2008, and 2009, and second-team honors in 2007. She is the only runner in program history to earn first-team honors three times. Jillian also earned All-Region honors in 2007 and 2008.