It warms our hearts to hear of Champlain College Alumni who are following their passion & living a daring life.When we heard about Jaqueline "Jacke" Zeiher, we knew we had to meet her. Below is her unusual story:
"When I graduated in 1971 from Champlain's Legal Secretarial program, the job market was difficult, much like today. Champlain had a great reputation, so much so that federal recruiters courted its graduates-to-be. I was interviewed by the FBI, the Department of Navy, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). I moved to Washington, D.C., for an entry-level Secretary-Stenographer position in the CIA's Procurement Department at the high salary of a $6,938. During my over 40-year federal career, I worked at the CIA, the Department of Navy, Department of Education, Executive Office of the President, and General Services Administration in the fields of procurement, personnel/position management, policy analysis, project management, quality management, and information technology. I retired this summer from my last federal position at the top of the federal pay schedule as the Director of IT Policy at the General Services Administration."
CC: Champlain College: How has Champlain College led you to where you are today?
JZ: I credit Champlain for making the difference at a critical point in my life as I moved from being my mother's child to becoming a young, independent, capable, responsible professional ready to add value to society.
CC: Who inspired you at Champlain?
JZ: My teachers, Helen Beaulac and Rev. Jim Peed. They were more than teachers. They were role models. They represented the real world and had compassion for every student in their classes. They took time to get to know us and let us get to know them. They taught us life lessons as well as academics. They respected us and commanded respect. Mrs. Beaulac was stately, had high expectations for us, and celebrated our successes. Rev. Peed made philosophy come to life, helping us to realize that our philosophy is the most important of all to our success.
CC:What is Champlain College to you?
JZ: I have now graduated from 3 schools: Champlain (A.S.), George Mason University (B.S.), and George Washington University (M.S.). Of all of them, I hold Champlain as the most important to my success. Champlain grows leaders because it teaches business characteristics and life skills in addition to academics.
I began my federal career one entire salary grade higher than my peers because of my Champlain A.S. degree. When I decided to continue my education, most of my Champlain credits were accepted by Virginia's George Mason University. In recent years, observers of my resume have exclaimed, "Oh, Champlain! That is a real up and coming school," in the same tone as if they were discussing Harvard. For many years, I have proudly hanged Champlain calendars in my offices throughout the years at the Naval Air Systems Command, the Pentagon, the New Executive Office Building, and some places I cannot reveal. People often took notice, and I was always proud to share the progress of the school and note the difference Champlain made in my life.
I am very proud of Champlain not just for what it did for me, but because it continuously reinvents itself to meet changing business needs and the needs of its students. I have contributed to Support a Student as my way of passing it forward and am a charter member of the recently formed alumni group in Washington, D.C. I am on LinkedIn and happy to connect to help students any way I can.
CC: What are some of your favorite Champlain memories?
JZ: Walking down Main Street from the magnificent Victorian mansion, Ward Hall dormitory, with Skip Rice to watch him play basketball; Sunday night bible studies at the home of Pastor and Mrs. David Heim, friendships with roommates and sorority sisters; the walks from Main Street to the campus with the wind whipping up from the Lake. Brrrrrrrr!
CC: Aside from your degree and educational experiences, what kind of other skills or lessons did you gain from Champlain?
JZ: This is where the wisdom of Mrs. Beaulac enters in. She had worked in law offices and taught us the business of business. For instance, she arranged for an evening business dinner for our class to help us live business etiquette. She had us work on projects as teams. She taught us business values of punctuality, confidentiality, integrity, striving for perfection, being the calm in a storm. Rev Peed taught us to understand the consequences of our actions. These life lessons combined with the excellent academic education is the difference that enabled me to step into the federal environment with confidence.
CC: What advice would you give to incoming students, or students about to graduate and move on to the real world?
JZ: Be aware that your opportunities are global and unlimited. Integrity and accountability are more than buzz words. Live today as if your security clearance depends on it, because it does. For instance, you are leaving an Internet trail now that you will live with for a lifetime.The basics never go out of style. Remember to say please and thank you and to honor those in authority, although you may learn as much from their mistakes as their successes. Be present and engaged with an attitude of service. Always be available and willing to take on the next challenge. Some of my finest assignments came from volunteering outside my job description and outside my comfort zone. And don't forget to enjoy the ride. It is great and it goes fast!