Alumni Stories: Kim Clune

As owner of Mixed Media Matters, Kim Clune (English BA 2008) helps philanthropic and animal welfare groups promote initiatives using print, digital and social media. Her 300-page redesign of Village Volunteers’ website put a new face on this humanitarian aid organization and her own international activism and educational site, Be the Change for Animals, was awarded 2011 Best Cause Blog by DogTime Media.

Balancing a quest for global change with a desire to act locally, Kim helped to found Dog House Adoptions in April of 2012, a rescue serving stray dogs and offering therapeutic dog love to New York’s Rensselaer County residents. There, she not only cuddles pups, but promotes their need for spays, neuters, vaccinations and loving homes through various forms of media.

Kim also celebrates human/animal connections, domestic and wild, through writing, photography and film at her personal blog, This One Wild Life.

Can you tell me a little about your experience at St. Rose?

Initially rejected based on poor college scores from my late teens, my appeal’s writing sample became an essay in defense of my determination to succeed. Given a second chance at a degree I abandoned for graphic design 15 years prior, I kept my promise to “do Saint Rose proud.” Never before knowing what I was capable of, I surprised even myself with an induction into the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society, graduating with a 4.0, and earning the Outstanding Senior and Swaminathan Awards.

Describe a memorable moment, professor, or course from The Saint Rose English Department.

Literary Theory and Postmodernism were by far my favorite classes. Dr. Kim Middleton’s teaching ability was as engaging and artful as the theory she taught. My own world interpretations, long held as truth, were often turned completely upside down, offering fresh, new perspective and revealing cultural impositions unwittingly stamped upon my psyche. What I learned here helped me to grow as a person and to see the world with a mind wide open.

What initially led you to choose English?

I fell in love with reading as a tween, often to escape my own harsh reality. In my early teens, I found writing to be a helpful tool for processing my experiences. Returning to school in my 30s, both reading and writing were no longer an escape but an exploration into who I am, how I think, where I fit in this world, and what I can do to make a difference.

What did you do after graduating?

My graduation gift was to volunteer in Have, Ghana. I spent July of 2008 working with organic farmers in the Weto Mountain Range spreading the word on responsible farming techniques and environmental preservation. I also worked with villagers to prepare the Have Community Library for grand opening after a year of construction. Upon my return, my world view had shifted even further and re-entry into a celebrity driven and materialistic America was a difficult transition. When choosing the focus of my work, I built Mixed Media Matters based on the idea of using my skills to promote social good.

Do you have any advice for future English majors?

Look beyond the numbers of credits you need fulfill course requirements and seek what calls to your heart. What you read has the potential to become a point of meaningful engagement with others and the bedrock of everything your life becomes. Use literature to explore what you accept, what you respectfully reject, what you can openly see more than one side of – and why.

Any other comments about the faculty at Saint Rose or the English Department?

The department is filled with shining stars and prized moments: Bethany Aery Clerico encouraged us to engage in textual conversation with confidence, because we had meaningful thoughts to offer. Peter Monaco’s Modern Poetry final presentation featured a collection of my obscene stick figure art – a hilarious and liberating experience of expression. John Harden’s Myth, Symbol and Story inspired respect and understanding for often misunderstood world religions. (He subsequently performed my wedding ceremony, merging cultural rituals based on meaning rather than specific religious roots.) I could go on…

Saint Rose isn’t merely a place where I earned a degree. I gained the confidence to speak and carve out a space for myself with wonderful skills, inspiring ideas and an entirely new direction.

 

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