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Closing Thoughts: Paying It Forward

closing thoughts, DAVS

by Angela Fernandez Barone ’90

I remember clearly the call I received from J. Larry Mench the day after my graduation from Dickinson to offer me a job in the admissions office. My interests were in public policy—around education in particular—so I had my sights set on positions in the nonprofit sector, likely with a foundation or community-based organization. But the position in Dickinson’s admissions office seemed like a valuable one. I could learn about higher education administration and gain another perspective on the issues and pressures facing the field. And, of course, representing this college would be an honor. I knew I’d love that. What I didn’t know was that I’d find so many ways to help students and advance the college—I didn’t know this would become my life’s work.

I’ve worn many hats over the years I’ve worked in admissions—coordinating on- and off-campus events, working with transfer students and recruiting first-year students from across the country and around the world—and am currently leading admissions’ communications efforts and working as the co-coordinator with the Dickinson Admissions Volunteer Society (DAVS). In the latter role, I partner with Patty Zink to manage a network of thousands of alumni and some Dickinson parents, too, who represent the college around the globe.

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These volunteers represent Dickinson at local college fairs and do outreach by phone and over email to answer parents’ and students’ questions. They also interview students, which I think is my favorite part of the program. When I read our volunteers’ reflections on the students they meet, I’m so impressed by their dedication and thoughtfulness. Just a few weeks ago, it was the passionate advocacy of the DAVS interviewer that helped the admissions committee to appreciate the struggles of a very special student and put into valuable context that individual’s accomplishments. DAVS members have a unique opportunity to shine a light on a student’s talents. They clearly see great promise in the young people whom they interview and take pride in advocating for them. Moreover, it’s a valuable connection for prospective students as well—they meet graduates of Dickinson and connect the place they are learning about with the people who have found success there and after graduation. Our alumni share memories of Dickinson with these students, our parents boast of their children’s accomplishments and these future students are better able to see themselves as members of this community.

And, even as DAVS alumni volunteers support the students they meet, they also have opportunities to support their alma mater. By helping students to see the great “fit” they have with Dickinson, they contribute significantly to the college’s momentum. They bolster their own affinity when they share stories of how they found Dickinson, how they thrived at Dickinson, and how they continue to stay connected to our alma mater. They advance the college’s values. They help bring to Dickinson’s extraordinary faculty the students who will thrive and be mentored and achieve great things, just as they did as students. It’s an incredible opportunity to pay it forward!

When my children were young and asked what I do at work, I’d tell them that I got to interact with students at a moment in their lives when they’re beginning to discover the incredible things that they can do. My kids’ eyes would shine at the thought of this fantastic, almost magical thing that I get to do every day. My eyes still shine with the same love of this opportunity to work with students. They remind me of what is good and hopeful in this world. They keep me looking forward to the future. And I get the chance to enable our alumni and parent volunteers to experience that hopefulness as well. What an extraordinary opportunity!

As director of admissions communications, Angela Fernandez Barone ’90 helps to tell the Dickinson story to prospective students, parents and the counseling community. In her newer role as co-coordinator of the Dickinson Admissions Volunteer Society (DAVS), together with Patty Zink, she connects those prospective students and parents with Dickinson alumni and parents of current students around the world—an opportunity that pays dividends to all involved. If you’re interested in getting involved in this invaluable service to the college, fill out a brief form.

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Published April 5, 2017