Ahh...The nostalgia of Commencement. Think back. It was most likely a day of mixed emotions. You were getting ready to say goodbye to the people who had become a part of your family over the course of four short years, and coming to terms with the fact that this would probably be one of the last times you walked the grounds of your alma mater.
And, these sentiments, to a certain extent, have probably remained true, unless you're among the more than 30 alums who found Muhlenberg to be just too irresistible to leave behind and have returned in search of the ideal career environment.
What is it about Muhlenberg that makes people want to hang their coats here for good? Perhaps it is the look and smell of the healthy green lawn in the spring and fall, when people can be found enjoying themselves around campus, tossing a Frisbee or reading a book. Or maybe it is simply the idea of not reliving oneีs years as a student, but beginning a new Muhlenberg College experience from a unique, professional angle.
Paul "Chip" Hurd '86 felt close to Muhlenberg while he was growing up, since his family lived near the campus and his mother worked for the College in admission. After testing out the business world at Air Products and Chemicals in Allentown, Chip considered rejoining his Muhlenberg family in 1995 when the dean of campus life called to invite him to interview for the director of alumni relations position, a post he filled for 4 1/2 years.
Chip says that Muhlenberg is "absolutely like a big family," where the students are the focus. Today, working for the College as associate dean of students and director of Greek affairs, Chip often serves as a link between students and management. In doing so, he works closely with both Dean Rudy Ehrenberg and President Arthur R. Taylor on a daily basis.
Chip says that he is at a perfect age for his career, since he can still remember what it was like to be a student, but now that he is a parent himself, he is able to see things from a broader perspective.
"I like seeing how students handle tough situations and seeing who steps up to the plate," he says. "For all I know, my own son could someday be in the same compromising situation as a student in my office, and I am proud of anyone who is able to take accountability for his or her actions. I would want my son to do the same."
Jennifer Tran '93, a human resources administration major, worked at Muhlenberg right after graduation, and then moved to Pittsburgh to work for a physician recruiting and consulting firm. But, finding the business world to be a little too ruthless for her taste, Jenn returned to the Lehigh Valley and looked first at Muhlenberg for a job, as an admission officer.
Looking back at her career path, Jenn says, "I knew I wanted to stay (at Muhlenberg), and I was looking to expand and develop my career as long as it was here." Today, Jenn's life seems to have come full circle from working with prospective students as assistant director of admission to her current position as director of alumni relations in which she connects and engages the actual products of Muhlenberg - the alums.
Jenn says that what has kept her at Muhlenberg is the camaraderie and the lifestyle, and says the College is easy to sell because she believes in it. "I don't necessarily consider this a job, since the work and the people around me are so enjoyable," she says. "The best thing for me was leaving and coming back, for it allowed me to appreciate what Muhlenberg has done for my own personal and professional development."
Jenn has been around the College a while and has benefited from this broader experience-base. "Working with different management styles provides an even greater understanding of individuals and additional perspective on the needs of the institution." Jenn says she has a lot of fond campus memories related to Egner Memorial Chapel. She remembers sitting in the pew for opening convocation in the fall of 1989 as a new student as well as walking down the aisle as a bride in the summer of 1996 with her husband Cuong '91. "The Chapel is one of my favorite spots," she says, "since it is one of those spiritual places that stands for a lot of different things for many different people."