Meet an Outstanding Graduate

Where’s your hometown?

Seattle! My whole family lives here, and although I was born in Salt Lake City and have lived all over the United States, I consider this to be my home. I live on Queen Anne Hill now with a few other SPU grads – it’s the perfect place to be after college. The best part is my family is just a few miles away!

What are you doing now?

During my senior year, I helped chair the Senior Gift Committee (an awesome campus group, if you’re looking to get involved your senior year, do it!). We worked with the Office of Development throughout the year to raise money for our senior gift. Because of that opportunity, and the staff that invested time in our team, I gained knowledge in relation to my future career and found out how SPU operates. As it turns out, the tuition dollars that I paid for the last four years really are not the only source for the University’s operating budget! In fact, a huge chunk of the budget, and the majority of scholarship dollars, comes from donor support.

After working full time at a few other places doing marketing and statistics, I heard about a job opening in the Office of Development at SPU. I jumped on the opportunity and, lucky for me, I was hired. Now I am the University fund assistant for SPU, and I have a lot of fun! I get to manage the Falcon Investment Team, SPU’s phon-a-thon team, which raises scholarship dollars for the University, work on the direct mail pieces that go to our alumni and friends, work with the Senior Gift Committee, and stay connected with people I’ve formed relationships with while in college.

How did you manage school work, your volunteer activities, and your after-school jobs?

Well, I’ll be honest in saying my life wasn’t always balanced – there were many, many times that I only had a few hours of sleep, drank way too much coffee, and spent more time in the library than anywhere else. Luckily my friends were patient, my professors were engaging enough to keep me awake, and the library had fast internet.

But the reality was I organized my time effectively and I found ways to multitask. I spent time with friends over meals, I found almost all of my text books, articles, and homework-related reading material online, and (let’s be honest, I’m not that technically savvy, but…) I found a way to make my computer and cell phone read the articles to me so I could listen to it anytime I wanted, like while I was driving, working out, or getting dressed.

How’s your jewelry business going?

Great! I just updated my website with a few things I’ve made this summer. My roommates and I are also getting ready for a holiday showcase at our house. We’re going to invite people over and sell a variety of things that we all make, like greeting cards, jewelry, photography, etc. It will be the perfect time for people to find fun, homemade gifts for the Christmas season.

What advice do you have for students with the same schedule that may get overwhelmed?

Learn about yourself and EVERYONE else around you. During my sophomore year, I was lucky enough to take the Major and Career Exploration class from Karen Altus, offered by the Center for Career and Calling. Although I had already been accepted into the School of Business and Economics, I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do with life (which, by the way, is just fine). Through a variety of personality and strengths tests I learned a lot about who I am, how to talk about it, and how others react to me.

One of the best pieces of knowledge I’ve received in college was from Professor Jim Rand who said, “what’s obvious to you, is obvious to you.” In college, and in life, this statement has always been true – every single person is so unique in the way we process and develop information. But if you get to know the generational trends and key personality traits, you’re that much closer to knowing how to communicate from people that are different than you are.

Another piece of advice is, have fun. I’m almost positive that when you thought of going to college you didn’t sit at home daydreaming about how hard it was going to be. Like me, you probably thought about all the freedom you’d have, the people you’d meet, and this AWESOME city that you’d get to live in. I made it a point to get off campus at least once a week (and not just for church). Washington state is really cool, and there are day trips, free events, affordable award-winning restaurants and tons of places to volunteer.

And remember, college is the best time for you to fail at something. I’ve failed at a lot of things – starting a business, relationships, figuring out student loans, remembering to put gas in my car, the list goes on and on. Every time I fail, I learn something, and the most important “something” is learning what not to do in the future. Each time you fail (and you will at some point), there are so many opportunities for personal growth. The more I’ve come to understand my limits and develop boundaries, the more balanced my life has become, to the point where I now grow my own vegetables and change my own oil. Amazing, I know.

Favorite memories from your years at SPU?

Speed dating! My first year as a peer advisor, my staff and I put on an event called “Speed” – also known as speed dating. It was an event that stemmed from a few conversations we had about a lot of awkward encounters that happened in the residence halls and campus apartments. Turns out, our generation (the technology-driven millennials) really don’t know how to communicate. So we hosted SPU’s first speed dating event. With the help of Communications Professor Rendleman, we decked out the SUB Gazebo room, put up tables and chairs facing each other, and marketed the event like crazy! We had an awesome turn out. Professor Rendleman gave the audience an interactive lesson in communicating, we had great feedback from our residents, and everyone learned something applicable – in a fun way.

Plans for the future?

Well, I plan to work here at SPU for awhile longer. But life goals: become the first female president of SPU… maybe… or not. The reality is, I have no 5, 10, or 20 year plan. I’ve found that everything I have ever planned has almost never happened. There are things I’d like to do at some point, business plans I’ve written, hobbies I’d like to take a lot farther, places I want to see, but right now my plans are to simply enjoy my 20s, become successful at my job, learn as much as possible about the world and the people in it, continue to sustain the relationships that I formed in college, and to perfect my peach pie.

Advice for prospective SPU students?

My little brother is going to the University of Washington next year (Yay, Joey!!). A few years ago, college wasn’t something he was even interested in. Whether he listened to my sisterly advice or not, I’ll never know. But, I told him it doesn’t matter that you don’t know what you want to do with your life, it doesn’t matter if you none of your friends are looking at the same schools, or if you change your mind about your major 20 times before graduation. The reality is you’ll never have a chance to go to college during this time in your life again. I’m a huge advocate for the college experience. Sure, the academic side is awesome, and you’ll take classes that excite and challenge you, but the bigger picture is that you get to live in the residence halls with possibly some of the coolest, most genuine people you’ll ever meet in your life, and you’ll grow up.

SPU is so great at fostering an environment where you develop personally in a holistic way. By the end, most people know what they want to do, and those that don’t still have had an awesome experience to learn in a safe environment, participate in really great programs like speed dating, and meet people that you’ll be close to the rest of your life.

If you’re like me, you’re worried about money. On a ski bus up to Mt. Baker my senior year in high school, my good friend and mentor, Shelly (an SPU graduate that now lives in Madagascar), said to me, “Sarah, if it’s God’s will, it’s God’s bill.” And it’s true. If SPU is the right place for you, then things will happen – it won’t always be easy (thus the reason why I had jobs in college), and it won’t always be fun (Sallie Mae has phone trees for a reason), but it will be worth it. Leave the scholarships to the Office of Development, and together with Student Financial Services, we’ll make it happen.

Posted: Monday, September 06, 2010