A nervous knot tightened in the pit of my stomach as I seated myself outside the interview room. I was early; the place seemed deserted, and I wondered for one panicked second if I was in the wrong building. The interview looming before me seemed unconquerable, like a wall too high for me to climb. As a greenhorn Millennial with only two years of experience, I doubted that any employer would give me a chance. It felt like freshman year all over again.
That thought made me smile. College was a formative time for me, in the most positive way. And the great thing about freshman year is that things can only go up from there.
I reminded myself of this as I heard voices and approaching footsteps. It’s not all about the skills and experience, I told myself, it’s about the mission. Could I get behind University of Baltimore’s mission of caring for alumni? I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders, and whispered a prayer.
The Fort Wayne campus is where I learned to love alumni. I conducted a Professional Writing practicum at the Fort Wayne Alumni Center during my senior year at Taylor University, and the experience changed me. Director Michael Mortensen g91 was my very first supervisor, who trusted me enough to let me take responsibility, throwing me creative curveballs that, with his help, turned into meaningful written pieces. Dr. Jay Platte g69 sized me up the way musical geniuses tend to do, but was willing to let me into his memories, playing audio clips and displaying photos from his student days at Fort Wayne. And Bill and Joyce Gerig g61 made the Alumni Center a home away from home, with genuine hospitality that I have rarely found anywhere else.
But the alumni—those alumni amazed me. I used to read over my notes from an interview and marvel at the true stories of God working through alumni in profound ways. From ethically based business owners to overseas missionaries, each alum had a unique and beautiful story of God’s guidance and Kingdom impact. I was challenged. I was inspired. I was blessed.
This taste of serving alumni stayed in my mouth through graduation and two years of working in a government office. When my husband and I took the plunge of relocating to Baltimore this summer, I felt a yearning to get back into the college environment. I wanted to hear from alumni again, to listen and to be amazed. In the middle of a very long job search, I learned about a vacancy at the Office of Alumni Relations at the University of Baltimore. That was May 30. Applications were due June 1.
Life has taught me that the word “coincidence” needs to be redefined. Rather than “luck” or “chance,” it should mean “an open door” or, in my experience, “Providence smacking you upside the head.” If God had not given me the opportunity to intern at the Alumni Center, right now I might be in a very different place.
My experience with the Alumni Center was one of the building blocks God laid as part of the foundation for where I am now and for where I will be in the future. I’m just getting started here, and I can’t anticipate how long I will stay. But I know that Fort Wayne is where God started my passion for alumni, and I can say in His own inspired words, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6, ESV).
Kathryn Fenstermacher g13 volunteered with the Alumni Center in 2013 as a Professional Writing intern. She currently resides in Baltimore with her husband, Scott g13, where she works as the Alumni Relations Assistant with the Office of Alumni Relations at the University of Baltimore.