The Rules of Attraction: Alum Concedes Magnetic Draw of Scripps

by Emily Rankin '93

My first visit to The Claremont Colleges was in the third grade as a student at Cypress Elementary School in Ontario. I was invited to attend a book fair at Harvey Mudd College, where I met the author of my favorite book, Lemonade Lady, by Joan Talmage Weiss. Over the next several years, school field trips took me to Big Bridges Auditorium for various educational programs. Then, in the ninth grade, it seemed as if fate led me to my world history class at Upland High. As I took my seat on the first day of class, I noticed a symbol that adorned the walls of the classroom and the teacher’s podium—it was La Semeuse. My teacher, Marilyn Lubarsky ’75, handed out her syllabus and welcomed the class to high school. She would become one of the most influential women to ever touch my life.

My undergraduate years at Scripps shaped the course my life has taken to this day. The years I spent living in Grace and Toll Halls introduced me to the friends with whom I have shared my joys and sorrows. The courses I took and the professors that taught them established the educational background that gives me the aptitude and confidence needed in my professional life. Scripps gave me access and membership to an amazing association of alumnae—strong women who are role models for the professional-socially conscious-volunteer mother in us all. Moreover, Scripps instilled within me a feeling that as a Scripps woman, I would be afforded anything the world had to offer. I only needed to choose.

My first job after Scripps took me to Opera Pacific, the opera company of Orange County, as a development associate. My passion and exposure to the arts world led me to New York City, where I was fortunate to work for an eccentric and wonderfully talented artist-stage director, Robert Wilson. Living in NYC exposed me to a world unlike any other. I can only describe such an environment as rich: in history, in diversity, in personality, in opportunity. Yet, for me, something was missing.

Then, one afternoon I received an announcement soliciting résumés for a position in the Office of Alumnae Relations at Scripps. I decided to apply. While driving through the back roads of East Hampton, on a cell phone with Anne Browning McIntosh ’83, then-director of alumnae relations (1999–2000), I was offered the chance to come back to Scripps. I accepted.

In many ways, the three years I spent as associate director of alumnae relations were similar to my four years as a Scripps student. My friends became my constituents, and my constituents became my friends. From the amazing women of Camp Scripps to the Graduates of the Last Decade to the distinguished women of the Alumnae Board, I worked with alumnae from every corner of the world. I was charged with keeping them connected to our alma mater and with utilizing their resources to strengthen the Alumnae Association. Every day was a delight.

Not a day goes by that I do not make a decision or embark upon a task that is not in some small way influenced by the lessons I learned from my colleagues within the Scripps community. The fact that those women remain my friends and confidants is a gift that I took with me the day I left Scripps to embark upon my next adventure.

Now, as director of alumni relations at Whittier College, I look back on a career that has taken me from coast to coast, from well-respected arts organizations to the world of higher education. It is my years in alumni relations—as an employee and now as a volunteer—that has been the most fulfilling work thus far.

To have appreciated an experience and to have valued an education so much that one is willing to contribute personal time and give personal monies toward the success of that institution is a powerful statement. To then be able to work with those volunteers and contributors is an awesome undertaking. From the quirky to the outrageous, alumni are an opinionated and determined crowd. It is quite fulfilling, and often entertaining, to be the conduit through which they achieve their goals. And it is also a joy to be a Scripps alumna who tries to give back as much as she took.

I seem to always follow the roads that lead back to Scripps.