EM, Meet Advancement. Advancement, EM.

I’m sitting here without electric. I’m bored, getting kind of cold, watching the candles dwindle as the flames start to burn out (mostly because I’ve been burning candles all day...it’s what we do here), and enjoying the sound of the wind and rain. To be honest, I should probably be scared. I don’t know.  I have a glass of sauvignon blanc on my left and a glass of cabernet sauvignon on the right. I’m taking on this frankenstorm in the classiest manner I know how. I’m also typing this post with my thumbs and I’m not going to lie, I’m amazed at my dexterity. I’m pretty fast. Let’s hope that autocorrect doesn’t place any ridiculous words in this post.

I just read this article from our friends over at Noel-Levitz, and I realize more than ever the importance of having a connected university. I was lucky to have the opportunity to work in enrollment management, student affairs, academic affairs, and university advancement as an undergrad and graduate student at Salisbury University. I know that I drove my now wife crazy with all of my jobs, but I wouldn’t have the knowledge of how institutions work without those experiences.  She’s awesome.

It’s interesting that I would write this post tonight. As a Marylander, I’ve [obviously] been affected by Sandy. And yet, as I’m worrying about my family, my coworkers and my life here in DC (ish), I’m also worrying about my school. Salisbury sits 30 miles away from Ocean City, Maryland, practically underwater.

I’m thinking about the residence halls, the buildings, the city and the students. I’m thinking about the local barsI used to head to with throngs of friends for Thirsty Thursdays or weekend nights as I see pictures on Facebook of those establishments underwater. I remember mud sliding in the quad…running and jumping head first across the giant puddle, formed by a would-be-snow-storm that JUST wasn’t cold enough, ultimately ending on the other side, being amazed at how this was possible. I’m thinking about my freshman experience, especially as a good friend and cluster mate left me a voicemail yesterday that I’ve yet to return (but WILL very soon). I remember sitting on the beach and watching waves with friends as crazy storms rolled in. I’m smiling, thinking about taking Meggie on our first date as freshmen, just four months into our college years…driving to the beach to see the Christmas lights.

As I look down, I notice that I’m wearing Salisbury sweatpants and an SU t-shirt. I look at the collages of pictures on the wall and see my friends smiling back. I look at the blanket on my floor. Salisbury. The photo album on the shelf. Salisbury. My engagement pictures. Salisbury. And let’s not get ahead of ourselves, no, my apartment is not a shrine to SU. My wife is a phenomenal decorator. Really phenomenal.

When I go to college fairs as an alumni volunteer, I see firsthand the shocked faces of students and parents when I say that I don’t work for SU. I’m there, volunteering on a Saturday morning or Tuesday after work because I love my institution. I’m able to provide an insight to my school that these students may not otherwise see. I can tell these stories. I can smile and laugh and be genuine. And, that’s what sells an institution. I can pull from my cross-campus experiences (look for this term in a later post) to answer student questions, paired of course with the EXCELLENT alumni admissions training offered by my alma mater. I can mention my friends who are successful teachers in the state and those who went on, like me, to pursue their master’s. I can talk about my friends working for non-profits, the government, or starting their own businesses after winning competitions put on by Salisbury. I can offer that level of credibility. I can talk directly about job placement. I can speak both to and from experience.

I don’t want to step on Kristen Rothfeld’s excellent past posts on utilizing alumni in EM, I just want to offer my vantage point.

And now I’m thinking about giving. At 25, I’m pretty much just beginning my professional career; and, while I’m in a great place, it’s not one that offers me the opportunity to give to my school on the level that I desire. So I give my time at college fairs, I give my knowledge when it comes to social media and I give my stories to anyone who will listen.

How do you give back?