Gatepost Interview: Rachel Keir Development officer for the Office of Development and Alumni Relations

Photo by Erin Fitzmaurice

What is your resume and background?

I graduated from FSU in 2011. I was pretty involved in my experience here. … I did SGA for three years, SUAB for four years and I did some leadership roles when I was in SUAB. I was president for a couple of years. In SGA, I did some senator positions, and then I ended up my senior year as class and club treasurer. … I took a position in New York City. … The school was for all girls below the poverty line. It was grades five through eight, and all of them were in really poor schooling situations. I worked for them in their fundraising department. We did all the fundraising and development work for the school. It cost about $20,000 a year to send a student through the school system. I was on that team and we fundraised around $1.4 million per year. … I wanted to come back to the Boston area, so I took a position at YWCA Boston. … They’re celebrating their 150th anniversary this year. I was in a fundraising role there as well. I started as a funds development associate and then for the past two years, I was a special events manager. We fundraised about $1.4 million. … And then I saw this position open up here. June will be five years since I graduated from FSU, so I’m really excited to be back. It’s been great so far. I started in February.

Why did you attend FSU as an undergrad?

I feel that everyone kind of has a funny story with Framingham. … Everyone that I knew was applying to all these fancy private schools, and so was I. I remember getting all of my acceptances and rejections. … I got the financial aid package with it and almost every single school was asking for $35,000 a year. … So my mom brought up the idea of applying to a couple of state schools. … But I only applied to one. … I picked Framingham super last minute and I really was unsure. But I knew that I was getting a lot for my dollar. … And here I am. It was one of the best decisions I ever made, which is funny because I made it when I was 18.

What was your favorite undergrad experience?

I might be in the midst of nostalgia because it’s Marathon Monday on Monday. That was one of my favorite days. … I’m actually running the marathon this year. I’m really excited to run through mile six and seven, and see all the FSU students. … I loved Sandbox at the end of the year. And obviously, Commencement was my favorite because I was able to walk across that stage and get my diploma. But I think Marathon Monday was one of my favorites. … It’s really empowering. I remember getting up early and seeing all of the runners go through. … I remember thinking, “Those people are crazy – that’ll never be me,” and here I am running 26 miles on Monday.

How do you think FSU prepared you for your career?

For me, it was a bit of a rocky start, and I think that’s something that is pretty normal for a lot of students here. You really have to take the initiative and find your fit and niche here. … I started with SUAB, and then it just spiraled into everything under the sun. … I was involved with Black and Gold Beginnings. I was a team leader for the Wet Feet Retreat. I did some peer mentoring. I was involved with athletics. And I did Admissions my senior year, so it was really the beginning and it spiraled out of there. I think that’s what really set me up. I had such a great experience in involvement. Working with the students, teachers, faculty and staff on campus created that community for me that I knew I could depend on and rely on and seek for mentorship. … I think my community here set me up for success, and I’m really grateful for that.

What is it like to be able to connect and re-engage with fellow alumni?

When I saw this position open up, it was something I really wanted to get into. I felt that it defined a role I would want to be in. … And I feel if I can translate my energy and passion for this school to others and encourage them and empower them to donate. That is one of the best things that I could feel. It’s been really great and I’ve been able to connect with people I haven’t heard from. … I met this woman the other day. She was from the Class of 1949 and she grew up in my town and her granddaughter is a friend of mine, which I didn’t know until I met her. She is part of four generations that went to Framingham, which was really cool.

What advice would you give to FSU students?

There’s a whole world of opportunities for FSU students because we are 20 minutes outside of Boston. MetroWest is booming with opportunity as far as internships and jobs. And right here on campus, we have a great network of clubs and associations. Beyond that, the people here are really great. So if you have an opportunity to connect with a professor or staff member and create a mentoring connection, I would definitely take that on. … The thing that’s really unique about most FSU students is that not everything is handed to them. I think a lot of our students work really hard to be in school and stay in school. Not a lot of them have this backbone of $50,000 behind them. They’re working a second job. They’re trying to stay above water financially. Then they’re also trying to excel in their studies. So what’s great about that is that I think they’re willing to take on opportunities.