Tag Archives: university of oregon

Meet UO Alumni Association Employee: Susan Burton

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Shortly after donning a cap and gown at her college graduation, UO alum Susan Burton decided to ship out to sub-Saharan Africa and work in HIV outreach for the Peace Corps.

Burton, who now works as the Assistant Director for Student and Alumni Relations for the UO Alumni Association, knew she wanted to join the Peace Corps after college. She had done HIV outreach while at the UO, and was accepted into the Peace Corps to work for Community Health Outreach Program (CHOP) after she applied. The program combined both of her top choices for area of work as well as her choice of ideal location. Immediately, she expressed very little hesitation for her journey to begin.

“My parents were a little concerned, but being my parents, they never told me until I was there,” Burton says.

While she was volunteering for the Peace Corps, Burton was particularly inspired by the South African motto Ubuntu—which means that a person is a person through other people. Burton explains that the people she met truly live by that style of life, and that everyone that she met would always make time for the people that surrounded them.

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Although she was originally hired to be an HIV outreach worker, she ended up mainly working with NGO (non-governmental organization) development because her organization didn’t yet have the capacity to be doing health promotion. As such, Burton spent much of her time working on building the organization to the point where they could begin their outreach program for the following year.

During her second year, however, she ended up doing similar fieldwork because the program let go of their entire management due to misappropriation of funds. Burton ended up training and hiring new staff for her second year before she moved to the capital city for her third year, focusing mostly on hiring a volunteer from the Peace Corps ready to do health promotion and training care.

Burton’s favorite work during her 38-month commitment was her job while working at schools. There, she focused on after school programs, youth camps and various day-to-day office tasks and assignments.

“A lot of Peace Corps volunteers feel that their main contribution was through changing the lives of the children that they worked with,” Burton says.

While much of the impact made by Peace Corps volunteers are not detectable until long after the volunteers have left, her favorite memories from the trip include daily visits from a group of about six to eight children. The group would come to her house to work on homework and watch movies; their favorites were X-Men and Transformers, and they were particularly obsessed with Wolverine.

The children, and all of the other villagers in Makhushane, called her Karabo—which translates to “The Answer” in their local dialect.

“When you name someone that, it’s because you’ve been praying for something for a long time and they’re the answer to your prayers,” Burton explains. “So, not much to live up to at all.”

After working with kids, Burton also realized that many of the children in South Africa have very similar interests to the children in America: they enjoy hanging out with friends, talking on the phone and playing video games.

While her service with the Peace Corps finished in April 2013, Burton and a friend spent three months traveling through ten countries in Southern and Eastern Africa. The purpose of the trip was to interview youth from each nation, and they now have eighty interviews archived. Her favorite interview that she conducted was with a young man that, upon graduating high school, opened and now successfully operates the first Internet Café in his village.

Today, Burton is in the process of pitching the compilation of stories to an e-book publisher in Scotland, with the hopes of marketing their product to schools across the world.

Burton explains that one of the most valuable lessons she learned on the trip also applies for much of the work she now does for the UO Alumni Association, where she works to help students create a lifelong connection to the UO. Working with students, she says, many are often be sidetracked with midterms or the various crises of being a college student.

“One of the things I really learned was flexibility,” says Burton. “You realize that you just have to go with the flow, because nothing is going to work out how you wanted it to.”

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Meet University of Oregon Ducks Assistant Athletic Director: Andy McNamara

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Source: GoDucks.com

Andy McNamara knows that he never would have had the opportunity to be the Assistant Athletic Director at the University of Oregon if he hadn’t been open to trying new opportunities. 

McNamara is in charge of the athletic communication office at the Oregon Ducks Athletic Department. He is the main communications director for the Oregon Men’s Basketball team and is a key contact for the Oregon Ducks football team as well. McNamara also coordinates media relations and leads the social media presence for the Oregon Ducks. When he was first hired, the Oregon Ducks had the seventh-largest digital presence in college athletics. McNamara also helped to launch the Quack Cave, which was the first social media command center in the NCAA. 

McNamara is a graduate of the University of Maine, where he studied broadcast journalism. In college, he had hoped to pursue a career in sports radio. Shortly after college, McNamara quickly landed a gig as the play-by-play announcer for the Portland Pride in the Continental Indoor Soccer League in Oregon. Because they lacked anyone else for the position, he also served as the VP of Communications for the team. 

When the league was dismantled, however, McNamara began working for Portland State University as the Assistant Director of Media Relations. McNamara felt that he was vastly unqualified for that position when it was first offered him, but he found the courage to accept the position. 

“I was very fortunate,” said McNamara. “I didn’t have college athletics experience that comes with people that enter the field. I talked my way into the job.” 

While working at Portland State, McNamara led communications for volleyball, soccer and wrestling. He didn’t know much about those sports, he said, but the university still trusted him to complete the job anyway. His attitude helped him stand out from similar candidates in the sports media industry. 

“The fact that I was working in sports on a college campus gave me a youthful vibe,” said McNamara. “I knew it was something that I wanted to do for the foreseeable future.” 

McNamara stayed at Portland State from 2000 until 2005, when he came to the University of Oregon as an Assistant Director for Media Services. His new position was created for him last September, when the Oregon Ducks Athletic Communications Department was restructured. 

His job with the Oregon Ducks keeps him very busy managing media requests from outlets across the country. 

“We’ve become a national brand in college athletics,” said McNamara. “Whether it’s the Duck or the uniforms or the logo, people know about Oregon, even if they’ve never visited the university.” 

He identifies key skills that have paved the way to his success as having ability to identity publicity techniques, solid writing skills, solid communication skills and the ability to handle different types of personalities. He says being able to adapt and be flexible while also being cool under fire is invaluable. 

McNamara encourages students to get to know other people who already have the jobs that they would like to have, which is how he was able to eventually work his way to the position that he has today. He originally thought he wanted to go into play-by-play sports broadcast, and he still does freelance broadcasting in his free time. 

Working in sports forces McNamara to work many odd hours and lots of weekend shifts, but also recognizes the privilege that he has to work in the distribution of sports information at the University of Oregon. 

“I feel very fortunate to have a job where I’m excited to go to work in the morning,” said McNamara.