By Aliya Merhi
Elm Staff Writer
Director of Alumni Relations and Leadership Annual Giving Rebekah Hardy said she, “never really left” Washington College after graduating in 2005.
Right after graduation she took on a 6 month temporary job as a “Road Runner” for the Admissions Office. The job required her to travel to college fairs, visit high schools, and talk with prospective students. Hardy said, “I felt like that was an easy transition from being a student because…I know how wonderful Washington College is first hand, and I’d love to go out and talk to people about it.”
Around three months after finishing the short-term job, a position became available in the Development Office to run the Phonathan, a program where current students call alumni, parents, and friends of the College, which was a perfect position since she had been a Phonathon caller as a student. She began working at WC full time in March, 2006.
As the Director of Alumni Relations and Leadership Annual Giving she leads a team of nine people that make up alumni relations and annual giving. They work with donors and potential donors to raise participation and funds for the Washington Fund. She said the team, “tries to encourage their giving to the College’s annual fund as well as other special fundraising projects.”
Additionally, they help host events and assist the Admissions Office as well as connecting parents and students through the Career Center. “We have been working for many years to expand those connections, so we want to be able to help all the other offices on campus to connect with those alumni because that’s what alumni are asking for,” said Hardy. “They are really nostalgic about their undergraduate experience and some graduate students as well.”
After graduating and finding a job many alumni want to help current students with their job search and completing their undergraduate degree. “They have realized that Washington College is expensive and that the job market is tough, so you have an instant connection with a graduate of your Alma Mater. We try to improve and expand all of those relationships,” she said.
Hardy graduated with an anthropology major and French minor. She enjoyed sociocultural anthropology classes and was particularly interested in her linguistics class. Not knowing what to do with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology she said, “As it turns out, I learned a lot about society, culture, and interacting with people. I think it translated really well into the job that I’m doing now.”
Her studies gave her the ability to communicate with and relate to different types of people. She said, “We have alumni donors that are 21 years old and that are 100 years old because of the college’s long history. But then there’s also parent donors, friends, neighbors of the college that want to learn more about what happens here. We have to be able to communicate…and earn their trust when you are talking about philanthropy.”
As a student, she was part of the Anthropology Club and captain of the Equestrian Team. Besides being a Phonathon caller, she also worked in the Biology department.
Hardy also enjoyed playing the oboe and baritone saxophone in music ensemble, and today she still plays with the Jazz Ensemble that Chair of the Music Department and Associate Professor Dr. Kenneth Schweitzer directs. She was his student, and now she continues to play music under his instruction nearly 10 years later.
She now lives near the college with her fiancé and their cats. Hardy has experienced WC as a student, a staff member, and a community member, which has allowed her to see Chestertown and the College from a multitude of perspectives. She said, “Because I am a graduate, I feel like I can speak genuinely about my experience… As a citizen of the town now, I understand…how they might feel about the college.”
Like many others, Hardy said that coming back to WC, “was the right choice for me.”