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History major credits past for shaping his future

May 09, 2017
Geoffrey Wiles York College
Geoffrey Wiles, Class of 2004

More than a dozen years after graduating, Geoffrey Wiles says his time at York College of Pennsylvania continues to have a significant influence on his life today.

It started when he found out about the History program’s Model European Union course – a class he never knew existed until he researched York College.

As a History major, he had a deep interest the EU and took the class all four of his years at York College. That decision, he says, significantly affected his career.

“The experiences and interactions I had with my fellow students and the caliber of the professors were incredibly positive,” Geoffrey says. “They’ll stay with me for a lifetime.” 

Playing his part

Similar to a Model United Nations, students in Model EU take on mock roles of European Parliament and the European Commission.

Parliament members debate and vote on documents prepared by student commissioners. Geoffrey and his classmates even traveled to Washington, D.C., annually to interact with students in other Model EU classes.

Because this atypical class involved more than just writing and research, Geoffrey says it helped him learn how to work with groups of people from different backgrounds, especially those with competing viewpoints.

“I saw that come into play throughout my college career when we would have group discussions,” he says. “It was never one person totally wrong or right. There’s that gray area, and you have to find ways to work with people and hear their ideas.” 

His career transition

After graduating from York College in 2004, Geoffrey worked in an assistant role at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Fund in Washington, D.C., for 10 years. He later transitioned to the nonprofit’s director of National Education Programs, where he worked primarily with contractors to design museum exhibits.

He points to two York College class – “U.S. in Vietnam” and “America in the Sixties” – for preparing him for the job. He even went back to his books from these classes when finding scholars to contact to join an advisory board.

After this experience, he shifted to a fundraising role with National Public Radio. As NPR’s manager of development research, Geoffrey evaluates prospects or donors to see what they could possibly give to NPR or to a station within NPR’s network.

For example, if he determines that a donor also gives to a local opera, the organization may talk to that donor about supporting NPR music. He also works collaboratively with stations to provide occasional research support.

Giving back

Today, Geoffrey finds different ways to give back to his alma mater.

After a trip to campus for his five-year reunion, Geoffrey knew he didn’t want this interactions with York College to end. In 2014, he joined the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, where he promotes alumni involvement and awareness of the college’s programs and interests.

He also acts as a Washington, D.C., ambassador for the college, where he works to connect alumni with young students so they can share their experiences.

And each time he returns to the campus, he loves seeing and hearing how the college is evolving.

“It’s very rewarding to be an active part of the York College community,” he says. “I find it very fulfilling.”

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