Hilary Bowie ’12 is a busy alumna. Her career as an executive team leader for Target, where she manages human resources for a high-volume store in Northern Virginia, occupies a good deal of her time, but she’s never too busy to give back to her alma mater.
For Bowie, “giving back” means many different things.
“Volunteering for Sweet Briar [encompasses] so much more than making an annual gift or soliciting others for donations,” she says. “For example, sharing the value of your Sweet Briar education with the people in your post-grad communities who could benefit from [the same opportunity] is a vital effort for the College.”
The business major puts those words into practice. She serves as a young alumna representative to the Sweet Briar College Board of Directors, as co-chair of the D.C. Alumnae Club, and as a host for young-alumnae giving phonathons.
Here, Bowie explains why supporting Sweet Briar is so important to her.
How did Sweet Briar prepare you for your career?
The unique set of developmental experiences that are the privilege of all Sweet Briar alumnae set me apart from my peers going into the workforce. For example, I was accustomed to being meticulously prepared for meetings with my professors and peers. Because of that, adapting to the demand for subject matter expertise or “speaking to the business” at Target came easily. There are four young alumnae currently at Target, and I know each of us would tell you the same thing: The constant collaboration at Sweet Briar made it easy to create great partnerships in a much larger company after graduation.
What is your fondest Sweet Briar memory?
Picking just one is impossible for any alumna! One of my favorite memories is the way campus would go from dormant to bursting with activity during class changes. I loved walking across campus and having bikes whiz by and hearing greetings from friends, classmates and professors. I would almost always be smiling by the time I’d arrive at my next class.
When did you realize the importance of giving back to your alma mater?
Almost from day one! The alumnae office did a wonderful job engaging current students and educating them on the true value of the adventure that lay before them as an alumna. You are filled with such overwhelming gratitude for your Sweet Briar experience and that energy has to get channeled somewhere. Sweet Briar does an incredible job harnessing that engagement so alumnae feel the responsibility for helping create that experience for the students who come after them.
Why were you drawn to serving on the board of directors?
Because of the caliber of individuals who serve as board members. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an alumna fresh out of school to meet individuals who are enormously invested in the success of this institution.
Of your many volunteer positions as a Sweet Briar alumna, which is your favorite and why?
I still love Sweet Briar Days the most. Alumnae in all stages of life, current students, prospective students, and the families who appreciate what a magnificent thing Sweet Briar is to each of us are all gathered in one place. I know that’s cheesy, but it does give you warm fuzzies.
What is your favorite memory as an alumna volunteer?
My favorite memory as an alumna volunteer is a young-alumnae giving phonathon that Katie Jo Hamre ’12, assistant director of alumnae and student engagement, put together at my house. All I had to do was open my door because she and Stacey Kerr ’12, assistant director of annual giving, did so much work to make the event go smoothly! Eleven young alumnae turned out and got straight to business calling. It was so refreshing to connect not only with the Sweet Briar women around my dining room table, but old classmates, too. Together, we raised $4,265 that night.
How would you describe the Sweet Briar alumnae community to a prospective student?
They are the most personally invested “club” members you could ever hope to find. They are eager to connect, mentor and assist YOU.
Why do you believe other young alumnae should consider volunteering their time and talents for the College?
For young alumnae still so intimately bound to Sweet Briar by our stories and friends, volunteering with the school is exactly how to preserve that magic and keep that closeness intact. Volunteering is decorative wording for talking about the benefits of Sweet Briar to the people in your life you know will benefit from it, too, whether that is family, friends or other Sweet Briar grads. I’m sure most young alumnae are already doing this frequently anyway! The alumnae office makes it so easy for you to be involved post-graduation, and they are so welcoming when you reach out to them.