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To the casual observer, it might appear that externship hosts do all the giving and students do all the receiving. Not so, says Ellen Kravet Burke ’76, who received the Alumni Association’s Externship Commitment Award 2011, for 10 years of participation.

Patricia Riordan '14 (L-R), Ellen Kravet Burke '76, and Margaret Del Col '15

Patricia Riordan ’14 (L-R), Ellen Kravet Burke ’76, and Margaret Del Col ’15

“We learn from students, particularly now with social media—Instagram, Facebook, and Houzz,” says Kravet Burke, executive vice president of Kravet Inc., a fifth-generation decorative home furnishings firm.

During school vacations at Lafayette, Kravet Burke worked at the family business, learning the basic operations. She now oversees marketing, advertising, public relations, sales training, and customer education. The firm employs 1,000 and has 50 international showrooms. Kravet Inc. recently received the prestigious Royal Oak Foundation Timeless Design Award in NYC, recognizing the company for its longstanding excellence in product design.

In January, Margaret Del Col ’15, a psychology major, and Patricia Riordan ’14, an English major, joined Kravet Burke’s list of mentees. Their agenda included meetings with department heads at the Bethpage, N.Y., headquarters. They also explored the design studio in Manhattan and three Kravet showrooms in the Decoration & Design Building.

Kravet Burke, a psychology graduate who holds a master’s in elementary and special education from Hofstra University, first came to College Hill after hearing her father’s dear friend Hugh Silver ’48 discussing Lafayette.

“My experience at Lafayette was invaluable in contributing to my career. I learned to be organized, analytical, and resourceful. Dr. Earl Pope and Dr. Burt Cohen were both very influential.” She notes that she has often used some of the valuable tenets of business she learned from Dr. Marshall Brown in industrial psychology.

A member of Council of Lafayette Women advisory board, she also serves on the Friends of Skillman Library executive council and is Class of 1976 fund manager.

And her last, but not least, reason to love Lafayette? It’s where she met husband Raymond “Ray” Burke III ’75, brother of David ’79, who is married to Francey Kanengiser Burke ’80, whose sons are Douglas ’04 and Ryan ’16.

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