Mentor Spotlight: Krista Starrett
What do you do at your job? And how did you end up in your current career?
I work at the Newtown Creek Alliance, an environmental nonprofit, as an administrative and development manager. Because we’re a small team, I get to do a range of things in my role, from grant writing and reporting to fundraising and managing our website and online store. It’s fun to be behind the scenes and understand more about how a nonprofit functions and how I can support its success. Every day is different and has a new challenge.
Newtown Creek is one of the most polluted waterways in the U.S. Learning about the history, politics, and potential environmental solutions around the Creek has been intriguing and a way to connect more to my community. Where else could I learn about superfund sites, black mayonnaise, toadfish, filter feeder habitats, sewage systems, wetland restoration, and green infrastructure alongside offering boat tours, field trips for local schools, public events and even rescuing some ducklings?
I’ve always been interested in nonprofit work and furthering the causes I care about. What I do feels meaningful, and like a lot of New Yorkers, it also helps sustain my creative pursuits outside of my job — I’ve been working on a book project for several years and recently attended the Tin House Summer Workshop. (I highly recommend applying if you are a creative writer!)
The desire to do something meaningful while still having time to pursue my writing is a large part of what led me to my current career.
Who is a mentor for you, and how did they help you?
Like a lot of KU students, Dr. Mary Klayder has been a pivotal mentor for me. Have you heard her take on the “crooked path”? She was the first person to suggest I take creative writing classes. I followed her suggestion and eventually went on to get an MFA in creative writing at the New School. All these years later, writing continues to be a gift and a huge part of my life.
Mary also encouraged ongoing connections and ideas with other students. I went on two of the honors study abroad programs (one to Costa Rica and one to London) with her and am lifelong friends with many of the fellow students I traveled with. These were great opportunities to expand my worldview, make real-life connections to classroom learning, and be inspired by my classmates’ experiences, obsessions, and perspectives.
What advice do you have for current college students or young alumni?
Find ways to connect to other students in and outside your field of study. And enjoy your classes and the swirl of ideas you are introduced to and get to think about. At the same time, don’t put too much pressure on making college go a certain way — the good news is that you can not only continue to engage and build on your learning for the rest of your life, but you can also maintain and build new relationships through connections to KU — also for the rest of your life!
What is your favorite KU memory?
I can’t say I have a specific memory, but I do think of my classes all of the time. From Queer theory to Slavic folklore and more — there were so many fantastic professors and fellow students who helped expand my understanding of my own life and the vast world beyond me. It’s been a joy to see fellow students continue to grow, whether writing books or doing comedy, starting their own companies, working in politics, changing careers, teaching, or finding new obsessions.
Do you have a favorite story of connecting with other Jayhawks?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that while I met my spouse in New York, we connected through a mutual friend, and as it turned out, we were all KU alumni. We recently had our first child, who just turned one month old.
Do you have a favorite story of connecting with other Jayhawks through KU Mentoring+?
On my last trip to Lawrence, I got to sit down with a student, and seeing their enthusiasm for what I was telling them gave me such a thrill that we just kept talking for much longer than I expected. I am so happy that I can give back to KU and support my fellow Jayhawks. I’m really looking forward to seeing a few more KU grads in the industry and, hopefully, in Milwaukee this Summer for one of our internships.