Sycamore alumnus Alex Sventekis (‘04) has built a strong core of knowledge and skills early in his career, and it has led him to earning as position as a Development Officer at The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.
This summer, we caught up with Alex to talk about philanthropy, his new job, and how Sycamore played a key role in his success in school.
After finishing at Sycamore, Sventekis graduated from Park Tudor School, and then earned a B.A. in Marketing, graduating magna cum laude from Ball State University in 2014.
Sventkeis was the recipient of the prestigious John R. Emens Outstanding Senior Award at Ball State, an annual award bestowed by a committee of university leaders to the most outstanding senior student in honor of his or her cumulative record of co-curricular achievement, leadership, and contributions the university during his or her undergraduate years.
After Ball State, Sventkeis attended the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, receiving the distinction of University Fellow, and completed his M.A. in Philanthropic Studies this May.
While working on his degrees, Sventekis gained philanthropic experience at the Indianapolis Zoo and the Anthem Foundation.
SYCAMORE MAGAZINE: Tell us about your new job and what you hope to accomplish.
ALEX SVENTEKIS: My path to the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation has taken me through some preeminent philanthropic organizations located in Indianapolis, both academic at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy as well as professionally at the Indianapolis Zoo and the Anthem Foundation.
As a Development Officer with the Foundation, I coordinate the Friends of the Library program, manage the Foundation’s communications efforts, and work with a portfolio of donors. It’s an exciting opportunity to support the growth of the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library branches and their programmatic offerings. It is an organization that is historically and deeply tied to the Indianapolis community.
SM: What are some ideas or goals you may have as you continue to gain experience? What is your passion when it comes to life/work?
AS: As my career in philanthropy progresses, I hope to be able to help many people find ways to express their own passions through philanthropic means. Invariably, I find myself energized by others who share their passions with the world, and philanthropy serves as a wonderful method for people to express their passions in a meaningful and powerful manner. My ability to serve as a steward for these types of expression – to help both donors and recipients of philanthropy connect and better understand one another – is something that truly and deeply moves me, and I am eager to involve myself in as many opportunities as I can in order to become a better steward of philanthropy.
SM: Can you talk about how you came to know Sycamore?
AS: After moving to Indiana around 2000, my family and I had been seeking a school that would challenge young minds and shape global citizens – critical-thinking students with a lifelong love of learning who could tackle the issues facing our communities.
For me, Sycamore School was that school, the one place where I knew I would have ample opportunities to grow, learn, and evolve. It onlytook one visit to the campus before I knew I had found the right place to be,
Though I was young, I was eager to jump right into those types of opportunities, and challenge myself whenever I could in order to reach higher, and aspire to be an intelligent, compassionate, and engaged student. I have been incredibly thankful for the chance to attend Sycamore.
SM: Talk about the education that you received from Sycamore and the teachers when you were younger.
AS: After my first day at Sycamore, I remember coming home and telling my parents that I “had found my people,” and to this day, I believe that wholeheartedly. It is almost indescribable, to feel that type of connection with your peers – your friends – and teachers.
At Sycamore School, I found that education was a common exercise, one undertaken by a group of people who truly believed in the power of education, and in the responsibility to learn and help others learn, too. We were asked tough questions that made us think beyond the surface – not simply what something was, but rather why it was that way. . I believe this style of learning – hands-on, experiential, critical – instilled in me the lifelong love of learning that I have applied ever since.
SM: How did Sycamore helped you prepare and support your growth as a student?
AS: Again, the need for critical thinking was stressed during my time at Sycamore. I was oftentimes asked to think “outside the box,” and to develop new approaches to a problem. I believe that Sycamore really nurtured that ability and helped it mature into an incredibly beneficial array of skills and talents that are easily applicable to many issues, from my own everyday challenges in life and in work to larger issues that philanthropy in general seeks to tackle and solve. Sycamore’s program and teachers were instrumental in the development of this skill set, and I will always be grateful for their willingness to share their intellect and passion.
SM: What are some of the most memorable moments from Sycamore?
AS: I think that it was the sum of my classes, teachers, peers, and projects that made my time at Sycamore School such a special experience. Whether we were snorkeling in the Florida Keys, walking the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C., or exploring chemistry, English, and mathematics in the classroom, my peers and I undertook a shared learning opportunity that not only built our foundations as educated citizens but also a lifelong passion for learning, for understanding how the world works, and how we as members of a global society can contribute to that world. I hold a deep appreciation for all of my instructors at Sycamore School.
SM: Do you stay in touch with any Sycamore friends? What does their support and friendship mean to you?
AS:. Technology makes it much easier to stay in touch and keep track of the goings-on in my friends’ lives. My Sycamore friends and I will exchange small messages every so often. Even if it’s a simple greeting or a wish for a happy birthday, those interactions are meaningful, and I believe they illustrate the continued impact that Sycamore has made on us.