By Jacel Egan
With the night underway, a small room in the College Advancement Office is filled with the sound of dial tones and side chatter. A group of Phonathon callers seems pent up on the ground floor of Fontaine, and although this job may seem remedial, there are certain spices to add flavor to the calling session.
“Come on guys!” says Bobbi Sue Gibbons, 27, as she enthusiastically motivates the callers at the onset of a long night. “Power half hour now! First pledge gets a gift certificate to Red Robin!”
She moves through the room, beaming at each employee and giving hi fives where they are warranted, as when someone makes a funny joke or gets a donation. Apart from the notes to callers on the dry erase board, doodles and cartoons are drawn to keep the atmosphere light and friendly.
Her energy and lively attitude is attributed to her love for Marist. A ’04 graduate, she now works as the Assistant Director of Alumni and Donor Programs (ADADP). As ADADP, her job includes two parts – the alum relations part allows her to coordinate groups by regional chapters to find other alum; she also helps plan reunion and homecoming weekend. The second part of her job involves donor programs, such as Phonathon, where she oversees the fundraising for the Marist Fund and Senior Gifts.
Her ties to the school do not end there. She takes full advantage of her return to Marist, becoming involved in more than just her job.
During the interview, Bobbi Sue sits at her desk chair, feet pulled underneath her. Her eyes glow and a smile spreads a mile across her face as she welcomes me in. Her hair pulled loosely away from her face, relaxed just as she is in a comfortable and easy-going recline.
“I guess I decided to come back and work here because I love it so much,” Bobbi Sue says, using her hands to help express her enthusiasm. “Not a lot are as passionate as I am about Marist, and I felt it’s so ingrained in me that I was bound to come back.”
Having worked as a marketing coordinator for the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLII, she helped manage the team’s sponsorships as well as planned events. She was able to meet the team and get an all-access pass during the Super Bowl, but found it unfulfilling.
“It was amazing working with the team and getting the inside scoop,” Bobbi Sue says, “But I felt no challenge during my time with the Patriots, and like I wasn’t advancing. I wanted a change. I would normally travel to visit Marist regularly anyway since I visit my boyfriend, Travis, who’s Associate Athletic Director, and during one of my visits, the VP of Advancement told me about a job opening. The job seemed like a natural fit, and I would be able to be back in my old home.”
Michael Rapoport, ’07 grad and Phonathon Supervisor, jokingly recounts the experience of what it’s like to work alongside Bobbi Sue.
“Working with Bobbi Sue is the worst ever,” Rapoport says, a smirk on his face. “She loves to boss me around and take the credit for everything I do. This happens so often I’ve taken to calling her ‘Bossy Sue.'”
After a brief pause, he continues seriously, “All joking aside, I thoroughly enjoy working with Bobbi Sue. She brings a tremendous amount of energy to the office, and is surprisingly tolerant of my frequent interruptions throughout the day, without which I would inevitably fall asleep at my desk. Bobbi Sue is very passionate about working for the benefit of Marist, and often puts me to shame with the long hours that she consistently puts in.”
They work side by side during Phonathon, overseeing the student callers as they phone alumni and parents for donations to the Marist Fund.
“She is a great source of comic relief,” Michael says. “I truly believe she is a 5-year old stuck in a grown-up’s body. Being able to laugh at her expense, most frequently over her obsession with the Little Mermaid, is another way that she helps me get through the workday. She used to have an “Ariel” Sippy cup that she would take everywhere in the office. It somehow disappeared not along ago, which I had nothing to do with it, but fortunately she also had an “Ariel” coffee mug, or else she would probably be in such a state of despair that she would sit listless in her chair all day.”
In the office, she works with some people that have been at the school ever since she was an undergrad. She mentions how “it’s just a little weird to see people in the administration that I saw as superiors, and now call them my colleagues.”
Apart from working in Phonathon, her job also allows her to meet many alumni from all decades. Bobbi Sue’s favorite part of it is “hearing the grads’ experiences from all different genres and decades.” She takes pleasure from hearing how Marist was then compared to how much it has grown.
“It’s funny to hear so many different stories, but still notice some subtle similarities, no matter how long ago someone graduated,” Bobbi Sue says. “Someone might ask if a bar or a club is still there from a few years ago that they used to frequent, or recount funny stories about their experiences on campus.
“Personally, my favorite memory, which I see happening now that the weather is getting warmer, is having all of my friends outside grilling and having a good time. That was the best thing senior year.”
During her time as an undergrad at Marist, she was class president her freshman, sophomore and junior year; as a senior she was elected student body president. To this day, she still remembers almost all of the people in her class.
“I still keep in touch with many of my friends that I had here,” Bobbi Sue says. “It’s just a little harder now that we’re all graduated and have jobs and even families. You take for granted in school how easy it is to get in touch with your friends that are only a few doors down.”
Her high involvement has awarded her priceless memories, but retrospectively, she wishes she could have made more room for leisure.
“I was so involved the first three years I was here, so active and involved that I didn’t have much time for other stuff – the kind of stuff that makes for crazy and funny stories later on,” Bobbi Sue says. “My only regret is that I wish I could have just slowed down sometimes and just had more fun, but I definitely made up for some of it senior year!”
In her free time, Bobbi Sue enjoys playing for an intramural volleyball team that she made with some friends, and especially going back to her hometown in Massachusetts to visit relatives.
“All of my family, including my two nieces and two nephews are still there,” Bobbi Sue says, a huge smile on her face at the very mention of her nieces and nephews. “Whenever I can, I love to go home and spend as much time with them as possible. They are all really young and I feel like they are new little people each time I see them.”
Having graduated high school at LaSalle Academy in Mansfield, MA, Bobbi Sue says she learned about Marist at the recommendation of her guidance counselor.
“Marist seemed to have all of the elements I wanted in a college: small, close-knit, and beautiful,” she says. “It’s just funny how time flies – I’ll be going to my five year reunion this October – and how much the school has changed in just that amount of time. The new dorms, Hancock Center, and such all show that the wheels of change just keep turning.”
While still in the process of figuring out what she wants to do in the future, she figures she can just take opportunities as they come.
“When I was at Marist, I didn’t plan to go to grad school but after some great advice from my ‘unofficial mentor’ Cochece Davis, I decided I had nothing to lose,” Bobbi Sue says. “Then while in grad school I had always planned to go into PR but somehow ended up in professional sports. To be honest, I never anticipated being back a Marist either, but I am sure glad to be here. So, I guess my future plan is to keep myself in a position to succeed and let God do the rest!”