Upon graduation, alumna Maryann Slater Dernlan expanded her student experience and passion for serving others into a career working for the Elks National Foundation in Chicago, Illinois. The Elks National Foundations helps Elks build a stronger community by helping youth develop lifelong skills, supporting students’ college dreams with scholarships, meeting the needs of today’s veterans, and funding projects that improve the quality of life in local Elks communities.
Slater Dernlan’s involvement began with the Livingston Theatre Company (LTC), she loved to dance, and immediately found a place with LTC, and held the role of artistic director during her junior year. The LTC advisor at the time, Matthew Ferguson, approached Maryann about a leadership position for the Rutgers University Alternative Break (RUAB) program. The service trip to Washington D.C. worked to educate students about hunger and homelessness, and she fell in love with the opportunity.
“Sometimes when you’re having a life-changing experience, you don’t realize it until you look back on it,” says Slater Dernlan. “During this trip I realized that this was a life changing experience, and being there serving others and meeting needs in the moment, I loved the trip.”
“This is my dream role — I loved my involvement at Rutgers, and now I’m getting paid to do it here.”
Maryann’s participation continued with RUAB for another year, where she advanced her skills in planning logistics, service outreach, and relationships building which helped shape her to the young professional she is today. Slater Dernlan continued to develop her leadership and professional skills with her role as a social media intern for the Department of Leadership and Experiential Learning, and as a Scarlet Ambassador.
Slater Dernlan grew an admiration and connection with the foundation, as a scholarship recipient while attending Rutgers. After graduation, Maryann took part in a two-year fellowship program at the Elks National Foundation, where she actively worked to build a service trip curriculum for Elks scholarship recipients based on the skills she developed during her involvement with RUAB.
“Jersey roots global reach – what started at Rutgers has now spread to Elks scholars across the country,” says Slater Dernlan. “I was hired specifically because of my out of the classroom experiences.”
Upon the completion of the fellowship, Maryann was promoted to programs relationship associate, where she works to cultivate relationships with scholars and foster a culture of community service within the program.
“This is my dream role,” says Slater Dernlan. “I loved my involvement at Rutgers, and now I’m getting paid to do it here.”
Maryann truly feels that the staff members she worked with were instrumental in her success both while she was a student and after graduation.
“Even after graduation, I felt supported,” Slater Dernlan says. “I felt I could reach out with questions any time, and they would take the time to talk to me, to help me.”
Slater Dernlan loved her time at Rutgers, both in and outside the classroom, that at her wedding this past June, she flew the Scarlet Knight out to Illinois, to be there for her special day.
“My involvement at RU made Rutgers home and made me #ScarletForever.”