As the first person in her family to earn a college degree, Linda Seebantz admits there were few role models for her on this regard. However, she recalls a conversation with her uncle who was in the printing business. “He showed me through a magnifying glass how small dots made up images on a page. I thought that was pretty amazing.”
Much like that image, life is a gathering of small dots. Recently, some of those dots connected when Seebantz, who now works at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico as the director of marketing and communications, ran into Jonathan Little, professor of English. “I had him for creative writing,” she said remembering the class. “He told me to never stop writing.”
Ghost Ranch is an education and retreat center in Abiquiu, 65 miles northwest of Santa Fe. It is where Georgia O’Keeffe lived and painted, using the rich and mystical colors of the southwest as the palette for her work. “We are more than O’Keeffe and art,” Seebantz said of Ghost Ranch. “We have 250 programs a year. We are also a world-renowned site for Triassic paleontology. Dozens of fossil reptiles, amphibians and other vertebrates have been discovered here in the low red and great mounded hills and washes that are over 200 million years old. We have an anthropology and a paleontology museum onsite, and we offer tours along with workshops where guests can devote time to actually working on a dig.”
Seebantz, a 1994 graduate with a degree in Professional Communications, found her way to Alverno as a non-traditional age student. She had two associate degrees, printing and commercial art, from MATC and was trying to build a career. “I was working for an outdoor advertising company and everyone there had a 4-year degree. I felt something was missing.”
A woman she knew told her about Alverno’s weekend program. “By that time, I had gone from graphic design to sales and was making a lot of money for someone in her late twenties.” The weekend class schedule would allow Seebantz to work and go to school. “I liked that the things I was learning in school were relevant to what I was doing in the commercial world.”
But for Seebantz, it was Alverno’s value-based curriculum that was eye-opening. “I never thought about what I valued.” Recognizing and understanding why she valued things in her world was a canvas on which she crafted her life.
After graduating, Seebantz worked for the Bradley Corporation. While visiting California to be with her father during the final months of his life, she realized she could live anywhere. “I was out for a run one day in Oceanside and I thought, ‘this smells like home.’” She wrote the names of four cities she’d like to live on a piece of paper, did some research, and chose one. Seebantz moved to Taos, N.M., in 2001.
For a time, the dots of her life seemed random and eschew, but one day, a friend passed along a job posting for a marketing director for Ghost Ranch. Again, the dots slowly started to connect. “I have the best job,” Seebantz said. “This is an artist’s community. People, who have that creative spirit are drawn here.”
Every day Seebantz comes to work on 21,000 acres of open vistas, running rivers, cliff walls and red rock that Georgia O’Keeffe loved, painted and captured in her work. “In her work, O’Keeffe focused on the small things,” she said. In doing so, she gave them prominence.
“As a printer and graphic designer, I have an aesthetic appreciation, and here my creative spirit is engaged. But I can also use my full skill set: my education and my career experiences.”
Seebantz credits Alverno for her polished presentation and group interaction skills. “I can stand in front of a group or a camera and find a comfort zone. Also, I approach writing the same way I did when I was at Alverno. Those things are now just part of my DNA.”
Ghost Ranch enriches lives through education, Seebantz said, just like Alverno. “I have so much respect for the College, the professors and students. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.” The dots in an image are small and nearly imperceptible, but, for Seebantz, the convergence creates an image of a full life in a beautiful place.