Ask Patti Arvesen about what her job at Chicago's Marist High School is like, and her answer comes quickly. "My job is to share the good news about what we're doing as a school and what students are doing in the community with parents, alumni and the local community," says Arvesen, who is the school's director of marketing and communication.
In other words, Arvesen is a master storyteller who's always looking for great stories involving this Catholic high school on Chicago's southwest side.
That skill helps with her other duties as well. Chicago is a very competitive market for Catholic schools, and Arvesen is responsible for the school's strategic plan for marketing - a responsibility that includes overseeing the school's branding, planning special events and managing all public relations and publicity. This fall, she coordinated the school's 50th anniversary Mass, which welcomed more than 2,000 people and was celebrated by the Archbishop of Chicago. She's currently in the midst of directing a development video that will launch a $20 million campaign for financial aid.
Arvesen credits her experiences at Salve Regina for leading her to this point in her professional life. An English communications major, she interned in the public relations office at the Newport Navy base. As president of the English Guild, she brought the first poetry slam to campus. Active in campus affairs, Arvesen was a resident adviser in the freshman dormitory, worked as a researcher at the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy and served as a tutor in the Writing Center.
"More than anything, I just remember laughing and dancing a lot," Arvesen says. "I made incredible friends in college and we had so much fun."
Arvesen's first job after graduation took her to St. Ignatius College Prep in downtown Chicago, where she worked in the school's development office writing appeal and thank you letters to donors and pairing financial aid recipients with benefactors. "I have to say I stuffed a lot of envelopes during that job," she recalls.
After a year at St. Ignatius, Arvesen joined the marketing staff at Marist. After a stint as the school's director of student activities, she returned to the job of marketing, this time as director of marketing and communications.
Throughout her time at Marist, Arvesen has remained committed to community service work. "I have gone to New Orleans and Kentucky on mission trips," she says. "I've done Habitat for Humanity, feeding the homeless, and lots of other projects, where I accompany students to service sites."
Arvesen's advice to students considering an English major is simple: Just do it, she says, but pair an English degree with something that makes you unique. "Whether that means having a minor in second language, technology, design or business, you need to have something you can pair with your communication skills, she says. "Also, I would definitely say that your first job will likely not be amazing, but it's okay. Stick with it, and you come to a place and position where it no longer feels like work. I am lucky to work at a place that I love."
By Vita Duva '13