Meaningful relationships are a hallmark of an Appalachian education. Amy Sarno has achieved career success in part because of caring professors and alumni who value being of service to others.
Amy Sarno firmly believes in the power of connections.
She got her first job because of the strong ties her professor kept with a former student, 1998 graduate Nicole Quigley, who was searching for the ideal employee for her Washington, D.C., communications firm. Two years' success working with Quigley led Sarno to Edelman, the world's largest independent public relations firm. She currently works in Edelman's New York City office as an account supervisor.
"The Appalachian spirit and the relationships you build when you're there are everything," says Sarno, a 2003 graduate who majored in communication while at Appalachian State University.
"Without Dr. (Janice) Pope and other professors' active involvement, eagerness to see me succeed and investments they made in me personally, I would not be where I am today."
Sarno started her career at Levick Strategic Communications, working with Quigley in litigation/crisis communications. After a couple of years, Edelman recruited her to start a litigation team at their Washington office. She moved to Edelman's Manhattan office in early 2007.
A casual lunch with Janice Pope and other professors during Homecoming weekend led to the job connection.
"I was coaching field hockey my first year out of college while looking for PR jobs. My professors invited me to join them for lunch and asked what I wanted to do next. I said I wanted to work in Washington," Sarno explains. "Within five minutes, they had five different names of people in the area who they thought I should connect with. Those five contacts became five informational interviews, and one resulted in my first job."
Thankful for all that her Appalachian education had provided her, Sarno wasted no time giving back. While living in the nation's capital, she reinvigorated the Washington D.C. alumni chapter and served as chapter president for three years. She organized monthly events and football game viewing parties, reconnecting other alumni to the Appalachian spirit. The chapter remains strong.
Sarno also completed the mentoring circle within the Department of Communication by providing resources for current students and speaking to classes. She also has volunteered her time as a regular panelist for students participating in the prestigious UNC Semester in Washington Program.
"Faculty in the communication department have been instrumental at every part of my educational and professional development. From the first classes I took to mentoring at every step of the way—from class assignments to internships to connecting me with a study abroad program in Spain, to connecting to my first employer—it came through connections I made through Appalachian. For their support and undying devotion to me, I will always be grateful."
While a student, Sarno was a campus leader and student-athlete. She was goal keeper on the field hockey team and served as a Student Ambassador, senator in the Student Government Association and residence assistant in Newland Hall.
She says she loves Appalachian's strong sense of community. "At Appalachian, you're not a number—you're a person, a face, a name. I can't tell you the number of times I had faculty, staff and the chancellor show up at various athletic events, and what an honor it was to feel so special amidst a group of 13,000 people. And, everyone felt like that. How they're able to make everyone feel so connected and so special is a unique trait of what it means to be a part of the Appalachian Family."
"I'm a firm believer in the professor/mentor relationship.
"Dr. Pope, for example, was a professor of mine while I was a student. Through Dr. Pope, after graduation, I was connected with a woman who was in a field that I so eagerly and desperately wanted to be a part of. Through Dr. Pope also being this woman's mentor when she was in college, she took a chance on me. She took the time to sit down with me and interview me and just talk to me about what she did. It was a very basic, casual, informational interview. Through that brief introduction, thanks to Dr. Pope, I got my foot in the door at a communications agency that catapulted my career.
"From that experience at that first agency, countless doors have opened for me since then, leading me now to the world's largest independent public relations agency.
"All of that can be traced back to the strengh and importance of the professor/mentor relationship."
Amy Sarno, 2008