Ellen Richardson ’01, ’10 MR has always felt a connection to NC State. She grew up in Raleigh going to Wolfpack football games and immediately thought of NC State when it was time to go to college.
After getting undergraduate and graduate degrees from NC State, Richardson is now trying to help other alumni strengthen their connection with the university and each other.
As the director of outreach and engagement for the Alumni Association, Richardson and her staff help put together a wide variety of events that connect alumni to NC State. Those range from alumni receptions with Chancellor Randy Woodson (Richardson recently returned from a couple of such receptions in California) to working with alumni networks across the country when they get together to watch Wolfpack football games or perform community service.
We talked with Ellen about her work at the Alumni Association and some of her experiences at NC State:
How she ended up at NC State: I’ve lived in Raleigh all my life, and I thought I wanted to be an engineer. I was really good at math and science in high school, so I thought, “Engineering, of course I’ll go to NC State.” So I came to NC State and I did one semester in engineering and realized really quickly that that was not for me. It was not something that interested me, so I changed my major to communication and figured out that was the right place for me to be.
Favorite NC State memory: One of the most profound experiences I had in my undergraduate days here was through the Circle K organization, which is affiliated with Kiwanis. Just about every weekend we were doing some sort of service project or networking event with the other students in the club. That whole experience really shaped and affected my outlook on my time at school.
Her role at the Alumni Association: I oversee the unit here that is charged with getting alumni engaged and keeping them engaged. There are different kinds of activities that alumni can get involved with, from social outings, baseball games, social networking, happy-hour types of things, professional development workshops, to events where we try to bring in students and get them involved, interacting with alumni.
On her busy season in the spring: May is a time when we go out and recognize all of the high school seniors who have been admitted to NC State and have celebrations with them and their families and their local alumni in their areas to get them energized for the start of the school year in August.
On the value of networking with other NC State alumni: For job purposes and social purposes, who you know is important. And being able to have connections to people who are likeminded and have similar interests as you — a love for NC State — that makes a difference. The Alumni Association offers you the opportunity to be able to connect with your fellow alumni.
On other benefits of belonging to the Alumni Association: I am saving a lot of money every month on my homeowners and car insurance through the discount program that the Alumni Association offers. And that insurance company gives back to the university every year based on the number of policies that they write, so I feel like I’m able to give back to the university without actually having to write a check myself.
Why she’s Red & White for Life: NC State is part of the broader community that I’ve always been a part of and there’s just never been any question for me about where I’m going to go to school and who I’m going to support. After being through many, many, many years of school at NC State, the culture on campus-with the student population, the faculty and staff-and then off campus with the alumni population, is a supportive, engaged culture that resonates with me.