Monday, April 23, 2012

Clarkson's Secret Sauce

Last week I had the opportunity to experience Clarkson's University Recognition Day in a very unique way.

If you're unaware, University Recognition Day, sponsored by the members of Phalanx, recognizes scholastic achievement as well as outstanding leadership in extracurricular activities and athletics at Clarkson. Nine years ago, I attended as a curious junior and left as a new member of Phalanx. Eight years ago, I attended as part of the "selection committee" for new phalanx members and left humbled. But this year, I attended as the guest speaker and left inspired.

When the Phalanx students first contacted me in January to ask if I would be their guest speaker, I was surprised and honored. I had only been out of school 9 years, what wisdom would I have to offer???

s I retraced my steps to what some would call my path to my success, I realized so much of who I am today started at Clarkson - the welcoming and supportive community, the classes that  taught me problem solving, the sports teams that taught me to challenge and push myself, the Greek life that taught me grow as a leader, and the lifelong friends I've  made that are my closest confidants still today. 

Standing up on the podium, I saw many students that resembled me 9 years ago. It was like looking into my past. At the reception afterwards, many students and parents approached me to talk about their future. It was like listening to my past. 

When I left on Sunday, I was inspired by all these emerging leaders and the change and results they've brought to the campus and their causes and proud of their courage, humanity, and humbleness. On the drive home, I thought about the similarities these students shared with me, with other Clarkson grads I knew, and with each other.

As a member of the marketing committee on the Board of Trustees, we often struggle to articulate Clarkson's "secret sauce"; that thing I experienced while I was an undergrad, that thing I feel every time I meet a Clarkson alumni and we instantly connect, and that thing I saw  again from the podium. It's many things, but I think at it's essence, we share common values and the foundation of Workman that Needeth Not To Be Ashamed.

Just recently my boyfriend experienced it when he interviewed at a new company and was introduced to a Clarkson grad. And I experienced it when a Rochester colleague introduced me to his crowd-funding organization, innovocracy, and I learned Clarkson was one of the first academic partners.

Every week I see Clarkson grads impacting and changing the world. Which inspires me to consider the Clarkson Fund when making my philanthropic giving decisions. 

How about you? What can you impact? How much of your tax return are you willing to part with to make a big difference?

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