#RockyLeads: Alumni and Students Connect at Alumni Conference

This past weekend, over 75 alumni returned to Hanover to attend the Rockefeller Center’s Alumni Conference and celebrate the Center’s 35th anniversary. At the conference, titled “Finding Your Purpose: Leadership, Public Policy, What Matters and Why,” students and alumni were given the opportunity to interact with each other through networking events, professional skills workshops, policy panels and more.

When Cathy Solomon ’82 attended Dartmouth, the Rockefeller Center did not exist. “I worked for The Dartmouth and I remember writing the headline about members of the Rockefeller family endowing the Rockefeller Center and I was thrilled that it was happening,” recounted Solomon. Despite not being able to benefit from the center during her own undergraduate years, Solomon spoke highly of the Center’s programs - “I’ve been involved with Rocky for about 8 years. I got involved with the First-Year Fellows program (FYF) when I was working with the Obama administration and I was invited to go to the reception that they have during the skills week, and then I was asked to become a mentor… I’ve been a mentor to five fellows, so I feel really strongly about the FYF program.” Aside from her role as a mentor to the First-Year Fellows program, Solomon is a current member of the Center’s Board of Visitors.

Alumni who were fortunate enough to participate in the Center’s programming reflected fondly on their time with Rocky. Shoshana Silverstein ’15 - a current JD Candidate at the Duke University School of Law - has a strong connection to the Center, having participated in the Management and Leadership Development Program (MLDP), the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP), the Dartmouth Leadership Attitudes & Behaviors Program (D-LAB) and the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows (RLF), and completing a minor in Public Policy. She noted the competencies she developed through these experiences all came together in ways she didn’t fully realize or expect during her undergraduate years. “Some of these skills were technical skills, like understanding through RGLP the cultural differences we should be aware of, especially when in leadership positions and when going into new communities. That was something that I needed to be aware of right away when I was in a job where I was interacting with people from all different backgrounds and cultures. And some of these skills were related to my personal management style, thinking of my strengths and weaknesses and where I could improve...Everything from little basics, such as the etiquette dinner, to the bigger ideas of how to work with a team and how to leverage different leadership styles to make sure a team works effectively all came into play post-Dartmouth.”

Current students were excited at the opportunity to not only interact and network with alumni, but to learn from them and explore possible career opportunities. Puja Devi ’19 attended the conference with a mission - “My goal was to get some insights on careers transitions, and I got lucky by sitting next to someone who bounced between business and government. And that really gave me some peace of mind, knowing that I didn’t have to stay within one career track.”

Other students were specifically interested in the opportunity to connect with alumni who had pursued public service careers. Danny Li ’19 has been involved with the Center since his first day on campus, when he attended the Center’s open house, and has since participated in a number of the Center’s programs. Interested in pursuing a career in public service, Li noted that through his experiences with Rocky he realized that there were many types of public service, and Tara Burchmore ’19 added, “It’s exciting for me to see alumni who have leveraged experiences at Rocky to launch into successful careers in public service.” Li hopes this is a career sector Rocky continues to give students exposure to; “I hope that Rocky is able to bring the students that it brings into its programs and push them into public service because a lot of our graduates, despite going through all of our programs, are still going into the private sector and not many of them are going into government service immediately.”

And if alumni continue to have the enthusiasm to share their knowledge with students that was demonstrated at the conference, it seems that Li’s hope will easily be a reality. When asked what she hoped to gain from the conference, Solomon responded, “I hope to meet more Rocky people - both alumni and students - and strengthen some of my own skills, through learning more about all of the wonderful breadth of interests and abilities and different sectors Rocky people are in. I hope to make some connections that will be of help to me, and I hope that I can be of help to other people.”

-Written by Anneliese Thomas '19, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant for Communications