By Lindsey Scorey
Former Scholar of Communication and Wilkes Alumna, Sarah Matarella, reflected on her time and wisdom gained from her undergraduate and now graduate work, as well as her experience at the Kirby Center. Matarella graduated from Wilkes in 2020 with a degree in communication studies and a minor in psychology.
Matarella accepted a position as the Graduate Assistant of Communications at The O'Pake Institute at Alvernia University in June 2020. She moved to Reading, Pennsylvania in July 2020 to start both a new professional and personal journey. She will graduate with her master’s in organizational leadership and development in May 2022 with plans to enter a job in higher education in student development.
Matarella first learned about the Kirby Scholar program through her colleague and friend, Jordan Fritz, who was the Scholar of Communication before she joined the team.
When prompted on her experience and work at the APKCFEE, Matarella said it opened her eyes to the business industry. Originally, this was not an industry she saw herself in with a bachelor’s in communication studies, yet the center offers diverse openings for many tracks and fields of study.
“I worked on a variety of projects while I was there from developing newsletters, social media content, and evergreen marketing pieces for the center and for external clients,” said Matarella. “Caroline Rickard and I started the center's social media presence from the ground up, which was nerve-wracking and rewarding! I also got to attend a variety of networking events and even gained new colleagues and mentors in the process.”
Matarella noted two of her main takeaways from working at the center. She expressed how networking is vital to building meaningful connections and starting important conversations. Not to mention, working as a communications professional in entrepreneurship can open up a world of career opportunities that she may not have known of without having worked as a scholar.
In most cases, it takes time and many learned lessons to find what one’s career aspirations are. For Matarella, she was able to work her way to finding her love for organizational leadership through many of her experiences in undergraduate work at the center and in other fields of study at Wilkes. These included mentoring, traveling, and enrichful education curriculum.
When prompted on her advice on strategies or leadership qualities to make for future successful communicators, Matarella knows that it is all about perspective and attitudes.
“Take at least one thing away from every experience, small or big, that you have,” said Matarella. “In school, work, and life, you truly get what you put in. After anything that you do that provides even the tiniest bit of significance, ask yourself, ‘What did I get from that?’ I believe that even if the only takeaway was the tiniest bit of information or a smile from someone else in the room, you'll thank yourself for showing up.”
For scholars and students alike, it is important to be constantly looking for opportunities to learn and grow. Sometimes. it takes reminding yourself, but that is alright. and true lessons come from all the experiences, not just the totally successful ones.
One quote Matarella has found herself gravitating toward is by Tony Robbins that states, "Demand more from yourself than anyone else could ever expect."
“It is important to think of this quote not from the work 24/7 hours per day 365 days a year (as that will cause burnout), but in the way of a lifelong learner who is committed to themselves personally, professionally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually,” said Matarella.
As a NEPA native, Matarella has seen just how impactful her work and the work of those around her has been to the community as a whole.
As a culmination of the work Matarella has done in her years of academia and entrepreneurship, she has launched a podcast entitled, “The Energy in the Room.” Matarella wants to change the narrative on local leadership opportunities and reshape our perspectives on how we see ourselves as components of our communities’ success.
In her podcast episodes, Matarella will interview entrepreneurs, community leaders, active residents, and the Alvernia community and talk about the "energy that they bring into the room" that is essential to Berks County.
“The process started at Wilkes, actually, when I was fulfilling a practicum credit with Professor Rock. She provided a framework to create a production plan and the podcast I created was called ‘The Self Care Journey,’” said Matarella. “That was cut short due to COVID-19, so when I attended Alvernia, one of my goals was to host a podcast.”
Alvernia never had podcasts before, and when Matarella pitched an idea to the director of communications and the director of marketing, it was approved.
You can listen to it on Alvernia's SoundCloud here: https://soundcloud.com/alverniauniversity/sets/the-energy-in-the-room-podcast.
You can also follow @theenergyintheroom on Instagram for upcoming episode announcements and to see the launch on to more major platforms.
For Matarella, her work has truly come full-circle. While she attributes many leadership qualities and opportunities to the Allan P. Kirby Center, the center is also thankful for her time and dedication as she moves on to new phases of her professional and personal journey.