Samantha Pearl ’00 serves as Olivet College’s director of alumni engagement. Her background is in human resources and nonprofit health care, but Samantha’s true passion is doing good in her career and life. In her current role, Samantha is especially proud to connect with fellow alumni and other members of the campus community to build relationships and create amazing experiences, ever strengthening the Olivet College family.
When and what brought you to OC, and why do you love OC?
When I came to OC as a student, I was finishing up the first half of my bachelor’s degree at a community college and looking for the right fit. I was married and working full-time, so I wanted a college that would know me personally and work with me to achieve my goals. Olivet College was very flexible from beginning to end, and staff and faculty went out of their way to know me and help me.
I loved the school’s commitment to serving others and doing good in the world. It really resonated with me then and has continued to do so all these years. I love OC’s focus on doing good. Doing good through personal relationships with students. Doing good through support and encouragement of current students. Doing good in the world by teaching students about individual and social responsibility and doing good for others. Doing good through lifelong relationships with alumni. After 175 years, OC’s founding vision to teach students the divine art and science of doing good to others is still a driving force behind everything we do. That’s what I love the most.
What is your favorite memory from your time at OC?
I remember sitting in Don Walker’s history class, head on my hand, listening intently as he changed the learning of history from memorization of dates to storytelling. He was and is remarkable. So many of OC’s teachers change the way subjects are taught for the better, each in their own unique way. A close second would be hours and hours and hours of studying in the beautiful library or over a pizza at Tim’s.
Where does your passion for working in education/with alumni stem from?
When I came to OC, I was seeking a specific kind of place, not a specific kind of job. I wanted to work somewhere where what we did made a difference in the lives of those we serve and a difference in the larger world. I felt strongly that coming back to Olivet College would allow me to do that. Working in alumni engagement has allowed me to see and build connections between eight decades of alumni and the good OC is doing today. I love being a connecting piece in the relationships that make a difference to the college, alumni and current students.
What’s the average day in your role, or some of the unique things you are responsible for?
There are no average days in alumni engagement, as so much of what we do is based on relationships. One of the most unique things I’m currently responsible for is bringing new programs to life that have the potential to make a difference in the lives of alumni and students, as well as positively impact the college. I love working with dozens of people to learn what matters most and figure out how to make it happen.
Why do you encourage students to attend OC?
Olivet College is a remarkable place for young people to connect on a really deep level, to be known and to explore what matters most to them as a person. It also provides opportunities to get involved and lead very early on, which isn’t always possible at a larger school. I encourage students to evaluate whether these things are on the top of the list of what matters to them. If they are, I’m confident OC will be the right school for them.
What advice do you share with students or alumni?
I think it’s important to think about what you, yourself, want and need. We’re often influenced by what others think we should do or what society says we should do. The greatest contentment and satisfaction comes from doing what is authentic. If we take the time throughout each season of our life to really think about what we want and need, it will be easier to make decisions that align. Having the courage to do what’s right for us, even if it leads us away from people and places that are familiar, offers the greatest opportunity for growth and building a meaningful life.
What do you look forward to in your role?
We’re bringing new programming to life this year that provides opportunities for alumni to connect with the college and each other in new and interesting ways. I’m really looking forward to seeing this new programming come to life. Some of my favorites will be the Student Assistance Fund, the Legends of Olivet Walking Ghost Tour, the Alumni-Admissions Partnership Program, the career mentoring connections, and the movie and baseball series events.
What is an interesting or little-known fact about yourself?
I love to write letters. Despite the availability of social media and digital communications, in which I heartily participate, I still love to write letters, in cursive, and send by mail. There’s nothing quite so delightful as sending and receiving mail and the deep sharing and connecting it allows.