Opening Minds, Opening Wallets
Rebecca Sprinson (Women’s and Gender Studies, ’09) raises funds for education.
Encouraging people to donate money to public schools means taking the time to understand why they give to education.
As executive director for the Eugene Education Foundation, Rebecca Sprinson spends her days meeting one-on-one with prospective donors and current supporters, outlining ways for them to contribute. She draws on what she learned as a major in women’s and gender studies.
“I think women’s and gender studies teaches you to analyze issues from really different perspectives,” the 2009 graduate said, “and to consider that more than one viewpoint or perspective might be valid or valuable.”
Sprinson understands that people have various motivations for supporting public education—her job is to figure out what will compel them to give. A business person, for example, might be swayed by the idea that excellent public education leads to a better workforce and more creative employees.
A typical day for Sprinson also includes time in the classroom, to see what grants from the foundation have accomplished and to learn about new needs. During these trips, Sprinson relies on another valuable skill she credits to her major—listening.
Sprinson’s first class was a Women’s and Gender Studies 101 class, taught by Professor Elizabeth Reis, the head of the department. The student was entranced by the topics and issues analyzed and said it helped her understand what it meant to be a young woman moving through the world.
The class, Sprinson said, “gave me a language to describe my experience.”
In classes on sex and medical ethics, feminist identity and race and culture, Sprinson engaged in fascinating discussions and honed critical-thinking skills.
Before joining the education foundation, Sprinson worked as a UO admissions counselor. The advice she gave then is the advice she gives today: Don’t be afraid of majors that don’t seem to offer an obvious career path—if you love the work, you’ll still develop marketable skills.
“It is totally about what they make of it and how deeply they allow themselves to go and how hard they work,” she said. “It is so important to push yourself to become someone who can work with a huge range of people because that is what the working world holds.”
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