December 2008

Spotlight On Staff: Stephanie Medwid

Stephanie Medwid, associate director of classes and reunions, works to keep alumni connected to GW and one another.

By Jill Lindstrom

Stephanie Medwid works hard all year long to make one weekend a success—the three short days in the fall that make up GW’s Alumni Weekend. Since she came to D.C. and GW in March 2007, Medwid, associate director of classes and reunions, has been through two reunions.

The official Alumni Weekend program started only three years ago and Medwid and her colleagues are still working to create a culture around the weekend. But if the early results are any indication, their efforts are paying off: The number of events doubled this year to 120 and drew more than 2,000 alumni back to campus—up from 1,500 in 2007.

Q: What are the biggest challenges of your job?
A: One big challenge we face is bringing “older” alumni back to campus for Alumni Weekend. The younger classes—those celebrating their five- and 10-year reunions—have more of a class identity, feel a real tie to GW, and are willing and eager to come back. For the earlier classes, the University was a commuter school and students didn’t spend a lot of time on campus and therefore don’t have the same connection to their schools or the University.

Q: What’s Alumni Weekend like?
A: It’s a lot of fun! It’s wonderful to see old friends and classmates reconnect and share stories—to see them have a good time, talk about memories, and run into people they didn’t expect to see. We had a “Back to Thurston” event and alumni were describing how memories came flooding back when they saw their old dorm rooms! It’s great to be a part of that.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
A: One thing I miss since college is being surrounded by friends. Today, my friends are scattered across the world. So I wouldn’t want to be in any one special geographical location, but I would love to be in the same place as my friends and my family and be able to see them regularly.

Q: What is the last book you read?
A: David Sedaris’ latest book When You Are Engulfed in Flames. I like all his books. Right now I’m reading Run by Ann Patchett for my book club. I also love reading Barbara Kingsolver and Toni Morrison.

Q: What is your greatest fear?
A: Failure. I’ve always been an overachiever, and I don’t want to let people down. I’m also terrified of public speaking, but my job is helping me face that fear.

Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: I like to go out with my friends. Most people in alumni relations are around the same age, and we end up hanging out together a lot after work. Many of us are new to the area so we explore D.C. together. I love the outdoors, hiking, and canoeing. I’m trying to get back into yoga, and I also paint watercolors.

Q: If you were an animal, which one would you be?
A: I would like to be a dolphin because I love the water. And dolphins are intelligent animals and are conscious of what’s going on around them. They also are very playful and social.

Q: What is your favorite memory from childhood?
A: I have lot of good memories from my childhood. Until I was six I lived in Connecticut. My dad was a director of a nature center, and I grew up in a house right on the grounds. There was a maple syrup house, an apple cider house, a greenhouse, trails all around, a big pond, and a little nursery school where I went to school. It was a great place to run around and experience nature. That’s probably where I got my love for the outdoors. It was a wonderful interactive place to grow up.

Q: What do you like the most about the holidays?
A: I like being able to take a break from the usual routine to spend quality time with my friends and family. Sometimes I can get so caught up in my daily life that I forget to pause to be grateful for all that I have, and the holidays bring that back to the forefront.


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