By Stephen Wilson

Picture a room half filled with maroon and half filled brown. It’s almost terrible to imagine, but Sammy Chavin ’16 has to experience it every year as Washington, D.C., alumni chapter president when Lafayette and [that other school] tailgate together for the Rivalry.


How could this happen? Well, any reasonable person might blame the small but growing alumni base in that market. But those with the inside scoop know it’s really Chavin’s commitment to systemic change.

Change wasn’t new to her. She entered college thinking about a career in medicine, but the neuroscience and French double major moved to D.C. after graduation to pursue a different way to help people: policy. 

Chavin began working as a temporary employee shortly after moving to the district. That led to a full-time role where she worked as an association manager for health care organizations.

After a year and a half, she wanted to find a better fit that aligned her passions for people and culture.

She made the jump to MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, a nonprofit organization working to end hunger for people of all faiths and backgrounds in the United States and Israel.

MAZON gave Chavin the opportunity to advocate for others and herself.

“As a Lafayette alum, I am used to doing lots and achieving lots,” says Chavin. “At MAZON, I realized that advocacy work is right for me, and while I loved my job, I felt I could offer more at my organization.” 

While advocating for others came naturally to her, advocating for herself was more challenging. That’s when she reached out to Margie Cherry, associate director for Alumni Career Services. 

“Margie is a fantastic listener, so I reached out to her when I hit this road bump,” says Chavin. “We had a substantive conversation where she asked good questions and was very clear in equipping me with the tools to have a conversation at my workplace.”

Chavin had that conversation, which led to an expansion of her role.

Talking with Cherry also got Chavin thinking of how to grow her skills. Soon she was considering area graduate programs. Cherry helped with the decision and process.

Chavin is now enrolled in the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University.

“We can make systematic changes at the grassroots level,” says Chavin. She is eager to leverage her education and experience, and work on programmatic and policy change.

Maybe the first change will be turning the Rivalry into shared revelry.

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