Caroline Weatherill ’11 stood in front of the students in Robert Jozkowski’s International Finance and Banking class at Eckerd College, in the same classroom where she had been a student a dozen years earlier. Jozkowski, an assistant professor of finance and Caroline’s longtime mentor, even remembered which desk she usually sat at. It was in the first row.
Now, as a senior vice president at Bank of America based in Portland, Maine, Caroline was delivering the lesson. “It’s all about networking, critical thinking and being proactive—skills I learned here at Eckerd,” she told the students. “Eckerd will always be a part of you, and that’s why alumni really do love to get connected with current students. So we can share what we know with you.”
Caroline’s visit was made possible by a gift from the Al Robbert ’66 and Birgit Robbert ’69 Endowed Fund for Alumni. The fund was established in 2021 by the Robberts, an alumni couple who realized the potential benefit to current students of interacting with graduates.
The endowment supports the expenses of connecting alumni with faculty and students to engage in classroom presentations, panel discussions, collegewide lectures or other activities that promote vocation development or community service and the real-world application of an Eckerd education.
Caroline also is part of the Eckerd College Career Center’s Career Mentor Program, which pairs current students and recent graduates with seasoned alumni who provide guidance in the transition from college to life after Eckerd.
Each month, explains Grant Bailey, associate dean of students at Eckerd and director of the Career Center, student mentees and mentors—a select group of engaged professionals and alumni—communicate for at least 30 minutes via Zoom or in person. Career mentors support mentees by providing positive feedback, offering new career-related experiences such as internships, finding them resources, polishing their career strategies, and connecting them with the mentors’ professional colleagues.
A native of Concord, New Hampshire, Caroline took advantage of Eckerd’s Study Abroad Program each of her four years at the College, including trips to Athens, Greece, in 2010 and 2011 as the country was facing economic collapse. “It was a real intriguing time to be there as a business major,” she says.
After graduating with honors from Eckerd with a degree in international business and minors in Spanish and psychology, Caroline worked as an admission counselor at the College before earning her Master of Business Administration degree at Simmons University in Boston.
She received an internship with Bank of America, which allowed her to work in New York City, Charlotte, Tampa and Portland as part of the bank’s leadership development program. Now she’s acting as a guide for those who would like to follow a similar ascent.
“And it’s continuing to grow. It’s so important for the students to have a sounding board and get unbiased advice. But the Career Mentor Program not only helps the students, it allows alumni to stay connected and give back to a community we care about.”
“When I graduated from Eckerd, I never thought I’d end up working in banking,” she adds. “But the roles I’ve held directly tie into my liberal arts education. Communicating, critical thinking … that’s what I use in my day-to-day life.”
The program also helps strengthen the bonds between students and those who came before them. “My best friends to this day,” Caroline says, “are the friends I met through Eckerd.”