News

January 14, 2010

The Power of the Alumni Network

After fulfilling a life goal with a job at the Food Network, Kelly Barrows ’06 switches to media studies

By Jess Wason ’11

Kelly Barrows ’06 declared eight majors before she finally picked the right one — American studies with a minor in math.

She was more decisive when it came to seeking a post-graduation job, taking advantage of programs offered by the Office of Career Services, including annual trips to meet with alumni in Washington, D.C. Her ultimate goal? A position at the Food Network.

Lafayette’s alumni network came through in the form of Susan Bravman ’82, a vice president at the company. “My career services adviser put me in touch with her,” says Kelly, “and she put me in contact with the New York City office.”

“My first task was to work with Ina Garten, star of the Barefoot Contessa,” Kelly recalls. “I was in total shock because I loved watching her show in college, and it was then that I realized I was really happy in media.”

Kelly worked in advertising sales for 19 months before making a change. “I realized I was more interested in studying media than working for it,” she explains.

She’s a second-year student in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. “I get to watch a lot of television and film and claim it’s research,” she jokes. “I have written papers on the phenomenon on High School Musical, the Food Network, and the history of blackface in early musicals.”

She says she owes a great debt to Andrew Smith, assistant professor of English and chair of American studies.

“He really helped foster my academic capabilities,” she says. “I took Special Topics in Film, a course that started to shape my love of film and the media industry as a whole. I learned so much about the film process and the blending of production and theory.”

Kelly says she also gained a lot by being active in a variety of student groups. “I was involved with LAF [Lafayette Activities Forum] for all four years, and was an executive chair for my senior year. I loved it because it allowed me to be involved in so many aspects — concerts, lectures, and I even helped with the Presidential Ball. The first one was the inauguration of Dan Weiss, and it has continued since then.”

She’s returned the favor given to her by the alumni network, helping students in their career pursuits at dinner panel and networking night events. She also has served on the Alumni Council and its Undergraduate Relations Committee, attended New York City Alumni Chapter events, and served on the executive council of the chapter while being its web administrator. She also has been president of her class and its fund manager as well as an alumni admissions representative.

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