Switchboard Hearts New York City

This week the Switchboard Hearts tour landed in the Big Apple. While we’re here we wanted to meet up with some of our users from the Oberlin, Reed and Willamette Switchboards to say hello and hear about what they’re up to in the Big City.

It must be true that New York attracts a special kind of motivated person because all four of the folks I met this week are complete powerhouses. Our College Switchboards are driven by people who pursue their curiosity with fierce dedication and for whom the idea of asking for help and offering back is second nature. Here are two highlights: 

Brooke - Willamette ‘02

There aren’t many Willamette Switchboard members out here in New York but I’m glad I got to meet up with Brooke because she’s a veritable super-cool-person. We got together over sushi and she blew me away with an account of her time since graduation.

She graduated from Willamette University with a degree in art history and since then has taught English in Costa Rica, worked on a number of films, gone to culinary school, earned a M.S. in communications at Columbia and about a million other things. She now works for a company that coordinates international students at U.S. universities and gets to travel all over the world for work. Oh and on top of that she is the new president of the Willamette NY alumni chapter and is starting a company producing allergen-free hygiene products. Wow!Hero status!

By Mara Zepeda’s (our CEO) conservative estimate, “it will take a decade of experimenting with everything you are passionate about to carve out the life you want.” Switchboard at schools is all about helping connect students and alumni with the resources they need to experiment with and pursue their passions. Brooke couldn’t have paid us a better compliment when she said that what she loves about Switchboard is that it “accomplishes what it sets out to do.” And we couldn’t have asked for a better role model than Brooke.

She’s happy to connect with Bearcats who are interested in or on their way to New York but she has yet to hear from anyone looking to connect. We hope that Switchboard will help more recent grads find their way to Brooke so she can inspire them as much as she’s inspired us! 

Nikki  - Reed ‘12

Nikki just gets it. As a natural connector, story collector and community creature, it’s not surprising that Nikki has been one of Reed Switchboard’s most active users from the beginning. The funny thing is that a lot of her own posts have been “near misses.” In spite of that, each of her posts has been fruitful in unexpected ways, like someone reaching out for help with their crowd funding campaign after seeing her ask for funding. “It’s not always about achieving the task, but about connecting with people” say Nikki of her many Switchboard successes 

She is currently pursuing a PhD in art history in part because she missed the academic community and collaboration she found at Reed. In between graduation and beginning her program, she looked to Switchboard to connect with that community. “I love Switchboard because it began as grassroots project (not top-down) and because I love being able to see everyone’s stories.” 

Nikki looks forward to the day she is making offers instead of asks. “That’s the dream,” she says, “of course, I’ll probably also always be asking because I’m naturally curious and love talking to people. But it would be so satisfying to offer something back because I’ve received so much. I’d love to pay it forward” We are so lucky to have Nikki onboard making Reed Switchboard an awesome place and we’re looking forward to the exciting offers she’ll make!