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Networking, Erskine style: one senior’s experience

Psychology major Faith Wright (pictured above), from Columbia, Missouri, was recruited as a tennis player and completed her graduation requirements last month. During her final semester at Erskine in the fall of 2021, when she was searching for an internship, she received some unexpected guidance from a young alumna, Anna Haddon Pettus ’13, secretary of the Erskine Alumni Association Board of Directors, when the two worked at Homecoming last year.

Conversation to connection

Anna Haddon Pettus ’13

“I was able to connect with Faith Wright during the 2021 Homecoming football game,” Anna says. Both were working the “Gear and Apparel” tent. At that time, Faith was a student assistant in the Advancement office under the supervision of Director of Special Gifts and Events Beth Boyd.

“Faith was a superb addition to our game day operations team and also helped in the Advancement Office,” Boyd says. “Her sunny personality, motivated work ethic, and interpersonal skills led us to turn over the game day gear tent management to her entirely. Faith was managing the gear tent for us at Homecoming Weekend, and we introduced her to Anna, who is in HR, Faith’s intended career path.”

Faith confirms her interest in human resources—she took enough business courses to finish her studies “just one class away from a minor in business,” she says.

“While chatting about Faith’s upcoming graduation, we recognized our similar passion for helping and leading people,” Anna says. “We stayed in touch and through a series of connections, she secured an opportunity at Human Technologies, Inc. (HTI) in Greenville, South Carolina.”

HTI offered Faith a part-time job—two days a week—which she began during the fall semester. “She was so caring and wanted to help me,” she says, recalling her meeting with Anna. “I had the interview only a few days or a week after I talked with her.”

The larger experience

Becoming acquainted with Anna and benefitting from the young alumna’s advice was part of a college experience in which Faith gained knowledge and honed her skills for academic and professional success, received valuable mentoring, and found community, all in the small town of Due West.

She remembers her initial contact with Erskine. “I sent my recruiting video for tennis to a bunch of schools in the Southeast,” she says. “Coach Parr recruited me. I came for a visit and loved the family atmosphere. I was looking for a small Christian college and knew I wanted to grow my faith.”

Faith Wright on the court at Erskine

Once she was on campus, she discovered that keeping up with her classes while playing on the tennis team could be a challenge. “Being a college athlete is a whole new level of organization and preparation,” says Faith, who was captain of the women’s tennis team last year. She learned “how to get myself organized and plan ahead, to schedule my time wisely.”

Professor Emeritus of Sociology Dr. Steve Sniteman, recently retired, was “a great mentor for me,” she says. “We would meet once or twice a semester for coffee.” She notes that she benefitted not only from intentional mentoring, but from “the way the professors and my coach have treated me” and “the character they exemplified” in their approach to students. “That is something I want to take with me into the workforce,” Faith says.

She will also take with her the Christian influence that has nurtured her at Erskine. “Being able to treat everyone with care and patience, not being judgmental, living it out” is her description of what has been modeled for her. “You don’t have to shove it down their throats. There’s a way to lead by example.”

Faith pursued her desire to mature in her faith through participation in a campus ministry, Reformed University Fellowship (RUF). “RUF was a place where I found my community,” she says, adding that former RUF minister and chaplain Paul Patrick served as a mentor to her. She has also been active on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) leadership team as well as with a discipleship program through the Student Christian Association (SCA), in which, like other upperclassmen, she was partnered with a freshman.

Head Women’s Tennis Coach Calhoun Parr has observed that Faith “lives her strong faith,” and adds, “She has a constant smile. Players would ask me why Faith was so happy. God used her as a strong witness to the players on the women’s tennis team.”

Looking to the future

In this new year, with her Erskine coursework completed, Faith is entering graduate school. “I am beginning work on a master’s degree in organizational leadership at Anderson University,” she says. It is a 12-month online program.

Meanwhile, HTI, the company she is working for, will allow her to move into full-time work whenever she is ready, whether during her master’s degree studies or when she finishes.

“My job title is ‘project quality specialist,’” she says of her current work with the outsourcing, staffing, and recruiting firm. “When I move to full-time, I will be going out and doing new business set-ups.”

Anna is delighted. “I was a project manager for HTI at the start of my career and couldn’t be more thrilled that Faith is kick-starting her own professional journey at such an incredible company.”

Reflecting on her Erskine experience, from her recruitment as a tennis player through all her academic, athletic, and extracurricular activities on campus, Faith is confident that Erskine has prepared her for challenges she will face as a working graduate student.

“I’ll be able to juggle,” she says.

Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Relations Paul Bell ’84 is happy about Faith’s experience of connecting with an Erskine alumna. The Alumni Board “is developing a network of alumni who are willing to serve as professional mentors to Erskine students,” he says, and while work remains to be done on the formal network, “‘pop-up’ connections are great as well, and we are always looking for willing alumni.”

Anna Pettus agrees. “Being ‘forever connected’ to Erskine is not a spectator sport,” she says. “As a current Alumni Board leader, I believe there are many ways we can positively influence the current student experience.”

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