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Ellen Dunlap '03 

Ellen Dunlap '03

Donor Profile

Tell me about your Dickinson experience.   

Overall, my Dickinson experience was fun and challenging, both academically and socially. During freshman year I was struggling with writing and keeping up with the reading assignments, but with help from my professors, family and new friends, the year wrapped up just fine. Through Panhellenic/Greek Life leadership roles (vice president and president) and philanthropic activities, I learned what it means to be a leader. I also loved supporting my lifelong friends who played sports, danced and sang. My friends and I always found something fun to do … when we weren’t studying in the basement of the library. 

Can you speak to how Dickinson’s useful liberal-arts education helped you?   

Dickinson helped prepare me to really tackle anything outside of the limestone walls. I started my career in sales, where I needed to be well-spoken, organized, convincing, honest and analytical. Dickinson’s liberal-arts education provided me a safe place to practice these skills and traits before entering “the real world.” Additionally, taking classes across disciplines allowed me to learn new subject areas I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen. Whether it was my time at National Journal, Merck or Gartner, I naturally called on my liberal-arts learnings from Dickinson.   

What inspired your gift to Dickinson?  

As a student, I was unsure of what I wanted to do after graduating from Dickinson. I switched majors a lot. I had many discussions with professors and Dickinson alumni, hoping to get inspiration and direction for life after college. My annual gift was inspired by thinking of current students who may be unsure as well. Dickinson provided me with a place to explore my interests, challenge myself and my peers and network with the community. I appreciated it all, and I am hoping new students will enjoy the same kinds of experiences.

Why do you feel that it is important to give back to Dickinson?  

My family and I feel it is important to support the students and faculty at our colleges and universities. From a young age, I remember my parents (my mother is a member of the class of ‘76), my godmother (class of ‘77) and their classmates celebrating their time at Dickinson. They participated in reunions and career events, and they visited campus regularly. I saw how they kept in touch with and gave back to the college they cared so much about, and I wanted to keep that tradition going once I became an alumna. I want students to have a fun and academically challenging Dickinson experience as well! I want my children (who will hopefully become Dickinsonians!) to feel the same way as they grow up, cheering on Dickinson and to feeling happy to wear a Dickinson T-shirt. 

What is your favorite memory from your time at Dickinson?  

There are so many, but this one is yummy: Eating grilled cheese, tomato soup and tiramisu in the Dining Hall! My favorites.  

What do you do when you're not working?

I live in the Chicago area, and there is always plenty to do! My husband, friends and I enjoy dining out at unique downtown restaurants. I also enjoy neighborhood street fairs, concerts, zoos and museums. I spend a lot of time in the library, reading to children and participating in story time activities. When my family and I are not in Chicago, we are visiting family in the Poconos region of Pennsylvania or in Denver, Colo. We enjoy going hiking, swimming and exploring.   

What advice would you give to today’s students?   

Surround yourself with people and places that make you smile. 

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Published December 30, 2021