Office of Alumni Engagement

Emilee Syrewicze

My hometown when I was a student was:

Luther, MI

I graduated from Alma in:

2008

I studied:

Political Science

I currently live in:

Charlotte, NC

I am now:

Executive Director, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation

Since graduating from Alma:

I received my JD from Vermont Law School, concentrating on water law/policy and nonprofit administration.  While in law school, I clerked for the Center for Environmental Law & Policy in Seattle, WA.  Upon graduating from VLS in 2011, I became the Executive Director of Northwest Michigan Supportive Housing in Traverse City, MI.  In April 2015, I became the Executive Director of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, which is the preeminent public interest organization responsible for educating and advocating to protect one of America’s most endangered rivers.   

My Alma education:

Prepared me for Law School/career and life in equal measure.  At Alma, I learned to balance work and fun while isolating what I enjoy doing and pursuing my life’s work.  Looking back, I realize how important it was to be provided with a safe but invigorating atmosphere to learn and have fun.  Not all college students are afforded the type of education that Alma provides and I consider myself very lucky to have been educated at Alma.  

My favorite place(s) on campus included:

The Chapel and the Gamma Phi Beta house

My favorite professor(s) included:

Dr. Borrello, Dr. Hulme, and Dr. Lorenz 

My most vivid/best memory of my time at Alma is:

Being in Model United Nations and singing in the Choir. 

How Alma has helped with my current plan/job/graduate school/etc.:

While at Alma, I participated in Model United Nations.  I can point to no other experience as having guided my future and career more. It was in MUN that I realized I wanted to make my life’s work about water.  The rigor of Alma’s MUN program resulted in me being able to easily handle the Law School workload and gave me the skills necessary to lead in various environments.  

Advice I would give a new graduate:

Don’t be too good to do work that is “beneath you”.  When you start out, you are going to have to get coffee for your boss, make copies and work in a windowless cubicle.  I’m the chief executive officer of one of the most influential environmental nonprofits in the South, but I still take out the office garbage.  A good work ethic is more impressive to your superiors than having all of the answers or being the smartest in the room.