The Millennial Mark

by Amy Marcus-Newhall

Amy Marcus-NewhallWho are the Millennials? They were born after 1980 and are between 18 and 29 years of age. Yes, that means our current students and our young Scripps alumnae are the Millennial Generation.

Will the Millennial Generation save us all? The data is mixed. According to TIME magazine in its May 20 cover story, Millennials continue to shatter stereotypes of work, home, civic engagement, and a life well-lived.

Nearly every segment of society has borne tremendous change in the past decade—and that crucible forges and shapes twentysomethings in amazing ways.

“Millennials have learned the only thing they can rely on is themselves, so they’ve gotten really good at wearing multiple hats,” says research consultant Dan Schwabel. “By diversifying their skill sets, they are better prepared to fill a variety of roles.”

I’ve seen the Millennial mindset up close—they’re passionate individuals who create and define their own lives in unconventional ways. Unafraid of hard work and difficult conditions created in the ashes of a broken economy, they’re thriving in a time of economic, social, and technological upheaval. They’ve adapted, and Pew Research Center agrees: a recent study finds Millennials “confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat, and receptive to new ideas and ways of living.”

Dr. Jean M. Twenge questions the positive attributes associated with Millennials. She conducted a meta-analysis, a statistical means of combining the research on a topic and looking for patterns across the research, and found that Millennials tend to show increased narcissism and entitlement and decreased work ethic. This generation is more likely to “value money, image, and fame than intrinsic principles like self-acceptance, affiliation, and community.” The results from the meta-analysis “generally support the ‘Generation Me’ view rather than a ‘Generation We.’”

Despite the contrasting ideas associated with Millennials, we do know the majority don’t own a home or marry right out of college. A significant number have decided to put off parenthood until they’re secure in their adulthood. They comprise nearly 41 percent of the U.S. population. The size of this group and its prowess across multiple fields and disciplines is staggering.

“As more and more Millennials come of age and enter and advance in the workforce and electorate,” states a 2011 Brookings Institute report, “they will have a political, economic, and social weight not seen since the Baby Boomers and the indelible mark they left on American politics, starting in the 1960s.”

Witnessing this cultural paradigm shift is fascinating. I’ve seen it on the micro level here at Scripps, and I believe the alumnae of this College are poised to change the world on a macro level with their education and ambition. Scripps College prepares its students to think critically and deeply about the world. You’ll see that mindset—so at home with the Millennial Generation—in action on the following pages. You will read about graduates who are capturing the entrepreneurial spirit of the digital age with their own business ventures, a molecular biologist who is crafting a career in choreography, and women boldly pursuing their paths in all corners of the world. Confident, courageous, and hopeful, they will make their mark, as the Me and We Generation, with a focus on individualism and collectivism.

The proof is in the profiles of the young Scripps alumnae profiled in this issue.


The Millennial Generation was influenced by a wide range of social, political, and economic events:

  • 75 percent have working mothers; 40 percent come from a one-parent household
  • The creation of the World Wide Web
  • Genocide in Rwanda, Kosovo, Darfur, and elsewhere
  • The election of the first African-American president
  • The proliferation of cheap, reliable mobile technology—phones, tablets, and computers
  • The rise (and fall) of the Dotcom era
  • The attack of 9–11 and its subsequent effects
  • The Great Recession
  • The end of space exploration
  • Far-reaching demographic shifts


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