Kristina Kennard Caldwell '84
For Kristina Kennard Caldwell '84, writing "love letters" is a satisfying occupation
As an assistant swim coach and recruiter for the College last year, Kristina Kennard Caldwell '84 wrote many letters extolling the virtues of a Kenyon education and the benefits of the total swimming experience at the College. Now, she has brought her genuine love for Kenyon, her rapport with students and alumni, and her writing abilities (honed in the College's English department) to her new position as director of donor relations in the Office of Development.
The development job came along at just the right moment for Caldwell. It seemed like a perfect fit. "What I'm doing now is very similar to recruiting," she says. "I'm writing letters to donors and thanking them, and in the case of scholarship donors, I'm telling them about the activities of the students they so generously support. I like Kenyon so much that I want donors to include the College in their lives."
Caldwell's love affair with Kenyon began early in her association with it. A life-long competitive swimmer, she was first attracted by the College's swimming program. But just as important, it turned out, was the freedom to explore many academic areas.
"I took a lot of science courses in high school and really believed that was my main area of interest," says Caldwell. "Then I saw the books on the course list for English 1-2 and thought they seemed interesting." She so enjoyed her classes with Visiting Instructor of English Ellen Mankoff and former Professor of English John Ward that she ended up declaring an English major while continuing to study science.
During her junior year, Caldwell combined her interests by participating in a program in oceanography based in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. "The sea semester was wonderful in that we studied oceanography, nautical science, and navigation while we also took a course on the literature of the sea," she recalls.
After graduation, Caldwell went to work for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, where she was able to combine her scientific knowledge with the writing and speaking skills she cultivated at Kenyon. Beginning as an environmental field instructor, she was soon promoted to director of summer programs and then senior manager in the education department.
"The balanced, well-rounded education I received at the College was invaluable," says Caldwell. "The ability to write and to speak well, along with the strong foundation in science, was so important."
With the birth of her daughters Aileen in 1987 and Kellyn in 1989, Caldwell found the travel aspects of her job increasingly difficult, so she left the foundation and began working at home as a bookkeeper for her husband's family's business, Secure Destruction Systems, a firm that destroys classified documents. A third daughter, Caroline, was born in 1992.
Last year, with the impending sale of the family's business, the Caldwells began thinking about escaping the rat race of life in the Washington, D.C., area. Following several weeks of assisting Head Swimming Coach Jim Steen with his summer camps, Caldwell signed on as assistant coach for the 1998-99 academic year.
The past months have been hectic ones for Caldwell and her family. "My husband, David, has been substitute-teaching in the Mount Vernon public schools," she says. "He has worked mostly in the middle school, where the kids seem to adore him. The suddenness of the move was a bit of shock to our girls, but, like David, they have adjusted very nicely."
Kris's job in the development office has allowed the Caldwells to make a commitment to staying in the Kenyon and Gambier communities. They've bought a house in the village and a Labrador-mix puppy. They've named him Chase.
"Everything about my new position is positive," says Caldwell. "I was sad to leave the College, so I'm glad to be back promoting Kenyon to alumni, parents, and friends of the College. It's an easy job when you're writing about something you love."
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