As director of alumni relations at Montana State University Billings, Sarah Brockel interacts with many generations of graduates.
Just last year, Aubree and Bethany Honcoop graduated from MSUB while still teenagers because they had enrolled in college courses while they were still in high school. They are thought to be the youngest graduates in MSUB history. And Brockel still reaches out to graduates who are in their 80s and 90s.
“My job is keeping alumni connected to the campus,” Brockel said. “I’m finding different ways to help them stay connected by offering different kinds of activities.”
Graduates of a certain age enjoy EMC Throwback Night at Yellowjackets games, a nod to an era when the Billings campus was named Eastern Montana College. In a systemwide reorganization, the Board of Regents changed the institution’s name to Montana State University Billings in 1995.
You might say that Brockel bleeds blue and yellow, the team colors of the Yellowjackets. She has earned both a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in public administration from MSUB, and has worked at the campus for a dozen years.
Although Brockel enjoys interacting with alumni and helping them remain connected to the campus, raising money isn't part of her job.
Here's how Brockel's career at MSU Billings started:
"I started my university career in the office of Career Services and worked in a variety of offices that gave me a firm understanding of the University internally and externally. I also served on the MSU Billings Alumni Advisory Board while employed at MSU Billings. When the director of Alumni Relations position opened I knew it was the right opportunity for me to use that knowledge to engage our alumni with the University and help keep our campus connected to the community.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Keeping up on all of the amazing things that are happening at the university and all of the great things our alumni are accomplishing. And then getting the word out to our community about the accomplishments of the university and our alumni.
What’s the best business advice you have received? You can’t control what people do you can only control your response.
Who gave you that advice? My parents.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Help those in our community that want to further their education, change careers, build on their current career, or are looking for professional development opportunities understand that MSU Billings can help them and it is possible.
Outside of work, my biggest passion is: my family. I have an amazing husband and two children who keep me on my toes and amaze me daily with their care, compassion and creativity.
Which living person do you most admire? My parents. They taught me from the very beginning to be responsible for my actions, take accountability and give back.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Having our alumni engaged with our campus in various ways benefits our students, our alumni and our community. I measure success on making those connections happen on campus and in our community.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Having a career I enjoy and balancing work obligations and family time with my husband and kids.
I’m happiest when I’m… with my friends and family.