Sabrina Martinez '92
My name is Sabrina Martinez '92, and I am the president of the Alumni Council and the Alumni Association.
During her short time as Swarthmore's 14th President, Rebecca embarked upon a listening tour to engage in discussion with alumni about the College's future as well as what makes Swarthmore special. She has traveled to 13 cities and met more than 1,000 alumni. She's listened to our feedback and answered tough questions ranging from faculty hiring to preparing students for careers and financing higher education. The feedback from the tour has been overwhelmingly positive. One attendee commented on the listening tour blog, "What a great introduction and good first impression you made in San Francisco. Thank you for reaching out to us, listening, and providing another opportunity for us to gather and remind each other about the values of our extended community. Swarthmore College mints leaders; it's nice to know that there is a leader of quality and compassion at the top." Another alumnus posted: "Swarthmore is lucky to have found you. You get it. You care. You're taking the best job in academia seriously. And you have a lively sense of humor, which is not only a necessary survival skill with students, faculty, and friends but also the hallmark of someone who may be able to herd these cats. What I hope and believe is that you have the resourcefulness to keep on reinvigorating and reinventing the long-running Swarthmore Chautauqua, so that the very special people who are able to make good things happen at so many levels continue to graduate and do just that." Other attendees not as technically savvy as the first two but equally as impressed made a point to approach staff members following events just to say, "she's a keeper" or, simply, "she's great."
The Alumni Council was thrilled that President Chopp made the time to attend both our fall and spring meetings. She challenged Council members to:
- act as ambassadors
- impart information from the campus to alumni
- share concerns that arise in the alumni body
- provide consultation and advice on big issues
- mentor students
- imagine new ways to connect students with alumni
- and help alumni maintain lifetime connections with the College and each other
The sessions with Rebecca have provided inspiration and direction to Council activities resulting in very spirited meetings and creative and energetic outcomes. Following our last council meeting, an attendee commented to me, "One thing that has really struck me about Rebecca is how dedicated she has been to learning about and putting into practice the College's core values. She spent her whole listening tour gathering alums' ideas about the College and as soon as she learned about them, she started making use of them. When she came to the Council meeting this spring and asked us for advice about some dicey campus issues, it struck me as such a Swarthmore moment — a powerful person querying a group of regular ole alums about a tricky situation and trusting that the ideas that arose from that conversation would help her figure out how to proceed. I also love the way Rebecca has emphasized the importance of alumni connectedness throughout the life cycle. My life post-Swarthmore has been so enriched by the ongoing connections I have to the College and to alums and I really want to help other alums feel that way, too. That Rebecca is also dedicated to fostering these connections has been really inspiring to me." I hope those sessions are just the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership between President Chopp and the Alumni Council.
President Chopp's willingness to spend such enormous amounts of time with alumni demonstrates how much she values alumni engagement. She listens carefully and with real interest to the opinions and concerns of alumni, which in turn encourages us to remain engaged. Swarthmore has been blessed with an alumni community that cares passionately and has strong opinions about the College. Under Rebecca's leadership, we will continue to strengthen bonds with the College and with each other.
Rebecca, I urge you to continue to work assiduously with alumni to engage us in and with the College in ways that ensure the College will have an even brighter tomorrow. Most important, on behalf of the Alumni Council and the 19,208 members of the Alumni Association, I enthusiastically welcome you to Swarthmore.