Last week I had the opportunity to share my profession with my daughter and her classmates at Grapevine Elementary School.
I started this blog because being a working mom can be hard, but breaking down my job as a higher education fundraiser into elements and activities that might resonate with 90 first graders gave me the opportunity to reflect on why I love my job and why I choose to be a working mom.
First I had two volunteers put on name tags that read, “Student” and “Donor” and gave each an envelope with fake $10,000 bills inside. I asked the student where he or she wanted to go to college and then told them that to pay for college, they would need to put five $10,000 bills on the board labeled “Money for College.” But the student only had three $10,000 bills in his/her envelope (can you see where we’re headed?), so as the “Fundraiser,” I stepped in and asked the donor to provide the two other $10,000 bills from his/her envelope to help the hard-working student pay for college.
Creating this activity reminded me that each and every day that I go to work, I help people. I can lose sight of that on a day-to-day basis when I’m faced with looming deadlines, stressed-out colleagues and proofing donor lists until I just can’t see straight. But I do it to lessen the financial burden on families of hard-working students who want to pursue a higher education.
A lot of what I do in my job is direct marketing; crafting and tailoring messages to help convey the importance of investing in students’ education at TCU. So the second activity I did with my daughter and her classmates was to have them design a postcard to send to TCU donors. I provided all of the elements for them to color in, cut apart and glue on the postcard however they liked.
I was born to be a graphic designer. From the time I was in elementary school I have always loved art, but I was never very good at it. I can tell you what colors work well together, how to balance positive and negative space and how to elicit an emotion from the angle of a line, but I cannot draw to save my life. Discovering the art of design was a game changer for me. I wanted the students to know that there are options for turning your favorite subject into a career.
I am fortunate that I found a career that I am extremely passionate about. I get to use my creativity and love of design to help people every day. The day before Career Day at GES, I celebrated my eight-year anniversary of working in University Advancement at TCU. It’s hard for me to believe that I have stayed in one place for so long (I am technically a Millennial after all). Prior to coming to TCU, I had worked at two other institutions, both for about two years. A lot of it has to do with loving what I do, but there is something else that keeps me here that I have never been able to properly express until now.
When you move, you have to help yourself. When you stay, you can help others.
Three days ago, TCU head football coach, Gary Patterson, accepted the Stallings Award, which is “presented to an exceptional NCAA Division I college head football coach in recognition of humanitarian contributions in addition to achievements on the field.”
In his acceptance speech, Coach P said, “When you move, you have to help yourself. When you stay, you can help others.” Coach P knows a little something about staying put. He has been at TCU for 20 years (18 as head coach) making him the second longest-tenured FBS coach after Kirk Ferentz at Iowa (he doesn’t show any signs of going anywhere either; he recently signed a contract extension through 2022). In staying, he has mentored countless young men on and off the field, helped TCU gain national prominence through moves from Conference-USA to the Mountain West Conference to the Big 12 Conference and made an impact on the Fort Worth Community through the Patterson Foundation.
I hope to make an impact by staying. An impact on students, young professionals and TCU as a whole. That is why I choose to stay. That is why I choose to be a working mom.