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DU Alumna Launches Career Connecting Fellow Alumni

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Janette Ballard

In the past year, regional offices have popped up across the U.S. to give DU alumni and friends opportunities to connect with each other and with the University. As a Southeast region market fellow, Rachel Ledon's goal is to create a strong network of alumni and friends in the Washington, D.C. area.

Ledon joined the University Advancement regional team last summer after graduating from DU with a BA in journalism studies and socio-legal studies. As a politics and history buff, she jumped at the chance to represent the University and connect with alumni in the greater Washington, D.C. area which includes Northern Virginia and Maryland.

"Our DU alumni in this region are incredibly passionate, smart, impressive and ambitious," said Ledon. "I've enjoyed getting to know many of our alums, and hearing about people's stories and passions. As I hear these stories, I'm realizing more and more that everyone is on a unique journey."

Ledon and her team bring alumni together at social functions, networking events, and workshops. Before the holidays, they organized a happy hour event with Ambassador Christopher Hill and General George Casey, and try to host at least one networking event each month.

"We bring in guest speakers and host workshops to talk about career development and other topics that interest alums," she added. The team also plans outings to Nationals and Capitals games, and will organize a Cherry Blossom Festival boat tour in the spring. "These events are a great way to strengthen the alumni community out here and reconnect them with DU."

As a student, Ledon served as VP of alumni relations on the CAHSS Student Advisory Council, a position that uniquely prepared her for her current job.

"I really enjoyed collaborating with my fellow SAC members and acting as a representative for our awesome student body," Ledon said. "In order to do this, we needed to get to know our fellow students—understand their needs and interests—so that we could play our part in using our voice and influence to advance their interests."

She believes that the hard skills learned through her DU education have prepared her for a future career, but "learning how to learn," was equally valuable.

"Everyone says it, but it really is true and powerful. Through my studies at DU, I learned the essential critical thinking, logical analysis, and reading comprehension skills that I need to be a life-long learner," she said. "I learned to think critically about the systems and institutions that underlie our society and daily life, and I learned to fulfill curiosities through research and to use this knowledge to solve problems and be civically engaged."

Ledon's position as a DU regional market fellow is a one-year assignment that will end in July. Afterward, she hopes to work in the ever-evolving journalism field for a few years before embarking on a law degree. She ultimately would like to work in an intellectual property firm protecting creative work.

"In my position, I've had the opportunity to talk to a lot of lawyers and law students," said Ledon. "One very valuable piece of advice I received is that you shouldn't rush into law school because it's the next best step. In fact, professional and life experience is actually a great benefit to law students. So, in the short term, I'm hoping to explore some of the creative fields that interest me."