Houston high school standout Astrid Salarda ’14 almost did not make it to Mary Baldwin University for a visit during Future Freshmen Weekend in spring 2010. But Texas alumna Cynthia Weir ’68 was convinced that a trip to campus would seal the deal for Salarda, so she and her husband paid for her airfare. Today, the United Way exec credits Mary Baldwin with helping her leverage coursework, internships, research, and community engagement to start her career in the non-profit sector.
“My professors were right beside me as I set out to create an education that told a story about me and my goals while showcasing what I have to offer potential employers,” said Salarda, corporate relations manager for the United Way of Tarrant County in Fort Worth, Texas.
Salarda just celebrated her first anniversary in her professional position, where she serves as a liaison between the United Way and businesses for the organization’s workplace giving program, connects community members with volunteer efforts, and assists with year-round campaigns, among other responsibilities.
In addition to her classes, Salarda’s preparation included several tailored learning experiences. She worked closely with assistant professor Joe Sprangel, dean of the College of Business and Professional Studies, who connected her with a changemaker internship at Rebuilding Together Greater Augusta and guided her during a summer fellowship project that examined a local non-profit organization. A paper based on that fellowship authored by Sprangel and Salarda earned them the only undergraduate invitation to the Stern Conference on Social Entrepreneurship at New York University.
Salarda was selected to continue her sustainable business and marketing studies as a participant in George Mason University’s Social Innovation Program. Scholarships from Mary Baldwin’s Spencer Center Endowment and GMU’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship helped with her tuition for the six-week immersion into the life of a non-profit organization.
“Astrid worked with faculty and staff to determine what she wanted upon graduation,” Sprangel said. “This led to her leveraging coursework, community engagement, internships, and faculty collaborations to set herself up with the best opportunity to land her dream job.”