Alumni bring their business expertise back to York College
For some, the college experience doesn't have to end after graduation.
At York College of Pennsylvania, alumni are finding new ways to stay connected to their alma mater – bringing value to students, helping their own businesses grow and being champions for a college that helped make them who they are today.
Dale Carey '85, founder and CEO of Eco-Site in North Carolina, lives several hours away from York College, but can't seem to stay away. His rapidly growing company builds and operates wireless infrastructure sites across the country, yet he makes time to join other professionals back on the college campus.
He's found a way to stay active with the college serving as a judge for the annual YCP Elevator Pitch Competition, hosted by York College of Pennsylvania’s J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship.
“I really enjoy it – I’ve done it for about five years,” he says.
This is just one of the many creative ways York College alumni use their success and their expertise to give back to the school and the York community.
Along with serving on the J.D. Brown Center board, Carey has also provided guidance and business-plan feedback for individual students.
“There was nobody there for me,” he says, “to give me hints or to say go left, don’t go right. Go right, don’t go left. I get a lot of satisfaction out of being able to help—even if it’s just one kid.”
From Nurse to Business Owner
Susan Heinle '82 graduated from the Nursing Program at York College and promptly began her first career as an RN. As time passed, though, something inside began to stir.
“Several of my family members had their own business, so I’ve always had that entrepreneurial fire,” she says.
In 2002, she and her husband made the decision to start her second career: owning a Visiting Angels franchise, an in-home senior living service.
“We’re celebrating 15 years in business – it’s been a fabulous journey,” she says.
Her company now has over 400 employees with locations in York, Hanover, and Lancaster.
“The community has really embraced our company and our mission,” she says on the idea of giving back, “so I just feel it’s the right thing to do.”
Heinle’s passion has always been Gerontology, which is why she was thrilled to work with the school on creating a scholarship with an emphasis on the study of aging and older adults.
“Our company has also hosted interns in different capacities. Now, we are working on a new fundraiser to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association,” she says.
Heinle finds motivation in York College’s willingness to work with the private sector in creating new, meaningful ways to re-engage with alumni.
“Even if you had told me 20 years ago that this is what my relationship with York College was going to be, I never would have anticipated all of this.”
We’re all in the people business
Rick Smith '63 leads the Rick Smith Team and is a real estate mainstay in York County. He graduated while the school was still a Junior College.
“This community has been so good to me,” he says of his 50-year career, “I love what I do and I’m so grateful. So about 10 years ago, I decided that I wanted to become more involved with various community events – York College being one.”
Like Carey, Smith also volunteers his time and expertise with the J.D. Brown Center.
“I’m not in the real estate business; I’m in the people business,” he explains. “I believe if we can help students understand how to present themselves as professionals and express their ideas clearly, well, that’s a good thing.”
Over the years, Smith has had the opportunity to speak to classes and meet individually with some of the students.
“York College is doing an excellent job of preparing students attitudinally for entrepreneur-focused futures — and I think that’s wonderful,” he says.
Re-connecting for the future
Getting involved is a win-win-win—for the students, the school, and the alum.
“If you’ve got a business or had success in a given area,” Carey offers, “anybody at York College would be arms-wide-open to utilizing that expertise.”
The Office of Alumni Relations sponsors more than 100 programs annually for a network of 35,000 living alumni. The programs include Fall Fest and Homecoming Weekend, reunions, regional events, luncheons and receptions, alumni athletic events, educational programs and golf outings.
"Your continued involvement with York College is your best assurance that the value of your degree and the quality of the York College experience increases over time," says Kristin Schab '04, director of alumni relations at York College.
The office manages more than 200 alumni volunteers, which includes more than 80 volunteers just in the region – just one way in which the Office of Alumni Relations strives to maintain strong connections and unwavering engagement with its graduates.
For those who can’t quite determine how to go about giving back, Heinle’s advice is simple.
“Reconnect. Just reach out to the college, talk to somebody in Alumni Relations, have a cup of coffee, and just see where the conversation goes. I think you’ll be amazed at what can be done. I know I was.”