On June 29th, the Futures in Advancement interns had the opportunity to hear from Chuck Chaplin, the Vice Chair of the Rutgers University Foundation Board of Directors. In previous weeks, our cohort had met with various Foundation employees to learn about the different departments and roles within the organization. These sessions gave us a better understanding of the important of philanthropy and advancement, especially at the university level. However, our talk with Chuck Chaplin provided a different perspective, as we heard about his connection with Rutgers, the successes and challenges he faced throughout his career, and the many pieces of advice he offered during his talk.
Chuck started off by speaking about how his personal connection with Rutgers started at a young age thanks to his mother, who worked in the English department at Rutgers Camden. He went on to earn a degree in Psychology at Rutgers, and eventually created a scholarship in honor of his mother. Seeing as I also come from a Rutgers family, it was incredible to see the kind of lifelong relationship that can be built and maintained with an institution, and how that can go on to help so many others. One thing that really stuck with me after the session was an experience that Chuck shared from working at a dining hall on campus while he was a student. He said that many of his coworkers had children who attended Rutgers and were grateful to the university in a way which wasn’t true for many of the students who were eating in those same dining halls. To me, the role that Rutgers takes in its larger community is a huge part of what makes this university what it is, and hearing that story made me even prouder to be part of such a community.
Chuck also spoke at length about his professional journey. As someone who has barely started their professional career, I didn’t expect to relate so much to someone at the top of their field. However, hearing that self-doubt is something you still deal with even when you are experienced and well-respected was surprisingly reassuring. After this session, I learned that the most important thing is to take action, no matter how small; and the worst thing you can possibly do is let yourself be frightened into inaction. Although you may not be able to get rid of the feeling altogether, you can keep moving forward.
As each week passes and I learn more about the Rutgers University Foundation, Rutgers as a whole, and the people who make these institutions what they are, I become more and more motivated to leave my own impact however I can, and to maintain my relationship with Rutgers as long as I can.