Introducing Sarah Sattelberg

Introducing Sarah Sattelberg (‘22) as the new director of alumni engagement 

Sarah Sattelberg is on a (presumably) short list of higher education professionals who can say, “I threw a hand grenade on my eighteenth birthday.” 

Sarah grew up in Twin Falls, ID, where she lived until joining the Army at the age of 17. If that town sounds familiar, you probably recall Evel Knievel’s stunt in 1974 when he tried (and failed) to jump the mile-wide Snake River Canyon on a rocket motorcycle. 

Military was always in the back of Sarah’s mind as a career option, having a long family history of service. Her mind was made up after September 11, 2001. 

After finishing training, she moved to a base in Seoul, South Korea where she lived for two years. 

By population, Seoul has roughly 2 million more residents than New York City, though it’s 75 square miles smaller. Though she did not do as much exploring as she would have liked in this dense capital city, she had plenty of time to become a bit of a self-proclaimed “Korean food snob.” 

Her next and final duty station was Fort Hood, TX, where she met her husband, Ryan, and had three children. In total, Ryan would be deployed three times. During his second deployment, Sarah enrolled at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor to study journalism and mass communication.  

With her support system far away and no childcare back up, juggling classes and taking care of a 2-year-old proved to be a bit of a challenge. “One of the things with military spouses I think a lot of people don’t understand is the struggle of maintaining your career during deployments.” 

Sarah ended up taking a break from school and working on base with soldiers who were struggling with substance abuse and PTSD. 

Next, the Army brought Sarah and her family to Virginia for two years, then Germany for 18 months. 

She made plenty of time to explore picturesque Germany and its scenic towns. “They all really look like the storybook villages that you see on postcards.” The iconic Christmas markets especially made an impact. “I don’t care who you are, you get in the Christmas spirit in that part of Europe.” 

Her husband’s promotion brought the family to North Carolina, where he ultimately retired from the Army. With no more deployments and Ryan working from home, Sarah was ready to finish her degree and start a career. 

She chose Campbell because of its smaller size, program offerings and welcoming environment. Although she could have elected to complete her degree online, Sarah enrolled as a main campus student. “I like the in-person interaction. It’s a beautiful campus; there’s something nice about being able to walk around campus.” 

Sarah embraced her so called “non-traditional” status as an adult student and enjoyed attending classes with traditional-aged college students. Though, sometimes she did enlist the help of her middle school son to translate Gen Z text lingo from her classmates. 

“It was a good experience. I had to realize that not everybody was looking at me like a weird old lady,” Sarah laughs. She appreciated seeing how current college students problem-solve and work together saying, “It’s different, but I don’t think it’s worse.” The only thing she wishes is that students talked more in class. 

Approaching graduation, Sarah posted on LinkedIn describing her unique status as a “36-year-old intern majoring in communication studies.” She explained in her post that a veteran resume may not make sense in the civilian world; hers is full of valuable experience, but may not look as linear and consistent as a conventional resume. This led to her decision to start from the beginning: finish her degree, work as an intern and gain career-relevant experience. 

That post gained 3,407 reactions, 443 comments and 19 shares. Hundreds of LinkedIn users offered advice, shared job opportunities and connected Sarah with hiring managers. 

Katie Smith (‘04), a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors sent the post to the office of alumni engagement, thinking Sarah could be the subject of an interesting alumni blog.

Sarah did end up the subject of an alumni blog. This blog. Announcing that she has been hired as the director of alumni engagement. LinkedIn certainly proved itself as a powerful networking tool! 

Sarah graduated on May 14, 2022 in Barker-Lane Stadium. On May 16, she started her first day with the office of alumni engagement. 

Through her new role, Sarah is excited to connect alumni with resources and back to their alma mater. She especially looks forward to working with CamelLink, the digital mentoring platform. “Mentoring is huge, and it’s something I’m very passionate about.” Sarah will also coordinate alumni events, such as Homecoming and Welcome to the City, and programs like Orange Owned. 

“It was important for me to find a workplace with good people, a good environment and a good mission. This is kind of the first point that I’ve really been able to think about what I wanted for my career.” 

The office of alumni engagement is excited to welcome Sarah to the team.