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Sarah Madison

Higher Education Administration

Years as a Staff Member/Position(s) held:

Summer 2002 – Aquatics Staff Senior Counselor

Summer 2003 – Assistant Head of Camp 2 Cowgirls!

Summer 2004 – Explorer Staff (out-of-camp trips to Hog Island, Shackleford, etc)

2006 - 2009 – Marketing Director

Current Profession and Title:
Profession: Higher Education Administration
Title: Director of the Graham Office of Career Management at the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business & Economics

What have been your greatest personal and professional accomplishments? Or what is a goal that you are currently working toward?

My greatest personal accomplishment is most certainly my family! I met my husband at Camp in the summer of 2003. Meeting him and seeing how great he was with kids helped spark our romance and we now have three kids of our own. The oldest is almost ready to go to Camp himself!

Professionally, I would say that I have always had a consistently strong work ethic. Those non-stop summers at Camp helped to reinforce that work ethic and I’ve been able to prove my value to my employers through my career and make strong contributions. I have received more responsibilities and promotions thanks to that work ethic!

How do the values or skills learned at Camp show up in your everyday work or personal life?

Work ethic and relationship building! As a counselor at Camp, you know how to dig deep and do what is necessary to get the job done right, no matter what! You also learn the value of building strong relationships and the impact you can have on another person. Camp also reinforced the importance of inclusion for me. Personally and professionally, making sure that all feel welcome and included is important to me.

What person or situation influenced you most at Camp and why did they/it impact you?

This is hard to answer because I have been positively impacted by so many people and situations at Camp. There are two things I would point to that stick out.

The first is Nelson McDaniel. Nelson was my supervisor when I was a full time Director at Camp and it’s hard to put into words how influential he was. That was my first professional role after college, and I think we all know you learn a lot in that first role. I was fortunate to have Nelson as a mentor. Nelson, Sallie Ransom, and I had some great times traveling the country and representing Camp! Nelson reinforced the relationship building and inclusion aspects I mentioned above. He has such a legacy of positive impact on other people and that is inspirational.

The second is an experience I will never forget, and it is a story I have told in many interviews. It was probably Family Camp week of 2008 or maybe 2009. The staff and Directors got an early wake-up call because hundreds of dead fish had washed up overnight on the riverbank at Seafarer. We needed to clean them all up before reveille, so it was an all-hands-on-deck situation. I have vivid memories of Elayne Steinman leading the charge and rallying us all to clean up quickly and efficiently. Through her example, we all jumped right in and believe it or not, had fun. This was certainly not something you plan for or expect to happen when you think about the “other” in your job description!

Tell us more about your role as Director of the Graham Office of Career Management at the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business & Economics.

I work and teach in higher education helping undergraduate and graduate business students to develop personally and professionally. I get the chance to teach personal development in the classroom and instruct on the power of your personal brand, your network, and your experiences. Ultimately, helping students launch their careers is what I do!

What advice would you give someone who is interested in a career in higher education?

It is very rewarding work! You get to work with future leaders every day and in that regard, you can see the correlation between being a camp counselor and working in higher education. I also love the cyclical nature of the academic year and how you get a fresh start every fall!

In many areas of higher education, internal promotion can be preferred. So, the hardest part can be getting your foot in the door. If you can land the right entry-level role and prove your value, you will be a great asset to the higher education landscape. It’s also a landscape that’s changing as we reexamine the value of a college degree and keep what we are teaching relevant to the future workforce.

Favorite Camp food:
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Favorite Camp memory?
Trips to Hog Island! I also loved doing “goodnights” with my campers. My husband and I still do this every night with each of our kids!

Favorite Camp activity:
Aquatics! Especially if Christie Jennison and Emily Sunderland were campers at the lake during free swim!

Favorite book:
The Boys in the Boat (for now…ask me tomorrow and it will be something else)

Favorite place to go on your time-off:
Atlantic Beach and/or El’s Drive In

Best place to eat in Lexington KY:
Double H BBQ