Anna Piepmeyer graduated from MAPH in 2007. She thought she had a pretty clear idea of what came after the Program. “Like most people, I had assumed it was a PhD and that I’d be an English professor,” she told me during a phone conversation. Anna spent the first half of the year thinking “I was going further on.”
Today, you’ll find Anna working as the Program Director for Open Books, a Chicago-based non-profit organization. She characterized the group as “a business-minded non-profit.” Open Books uses proceeds from its retail bookstore in conjunction with donations and a network of volunteers to provide literacy programming for Chicago school children.
In her current role, Anna oversees four different programs under the Open Books umbrella–all centered on the provision of one-on-one attention for students in various areas of reading and writing. In the “Adventures in Creative Writing” program, for example, students are encouraged to write from their own experiences. “We’re all about students exploring their own lives,” Piepmeyer said. Characterizing the scope of these experiences, she added that stories range in content from ” Six Flags to gang violence.” Programs take place on-site, and according to Anna, over 3,000 students have been to Open Books on field trips this year. The organization also sends volunteers to eleven area schools to give students the opportunity to work closely on their literacy skills.
Speaking of how to decide what to do after MAPH, Anna said, “There are a lot of other things you can do using your degree in interesting ways.” She highlighted that networking and starting early are keys to being successful in getting a job after graduation.
Anna encourages current MAPH students and alums to check out Open Books. The store has 50,000 used books, and proceeds go toward funding the organization. More information can be found at Open Books’ Website.