Relay for Life is Now a Full-Time Job for One Grad

After organizing Rider’s Relay for Life as a student, Megan Ptaszenski ’10 is now the Manager of Special Events for the American Cancer Society’s North Brunswick office.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Megan Ptaszenski ’10 certainly knows firsthand how a good deed — and hard work — can come full circle. 

Three years ago, when Ptaszenski and her roommates began planning Rider’s inaugural Relay for Life, they envisioned that the American Cancer Society’s signature awareness and fundraising event would become a new University tradition. In its first two years, under their leadership, Relay for Life raised more than $100,000 to become the biggest student-run event on the Lawrenceville campus, earning the distinction as the “Top Performing College Relay in New Jersey” — twice.

While Ptaszenski immersed herself in the event planning, she was also building an attractive résumé that would eventually lead to a full-time position with the American Cancer Society. Ptaszenski, who received a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, was recently hired as the new Manager of Special Events for the American Cancer Society’s office in North Brunswick, N.J.

“It’s been a lot of networking. I kept in touch with a lot of people, including Christine Sagge. That’s how this position came about,” explained Ptaszenski about Christine Sagge ’06, who recently left the North Brunswick office to take a position as manager of Income Development in the ACS’s Manhattan office.

Shortly after the success of the first Relay at Rider, Ptaszenski took on a greater leadership role when she followed Sagge’s advice and applied to become a member of the National Collegiate Leadership Summit. As a summit leader, Ptaszenski attended the National Collegiate Summit in Texas during the summer of 2009. There, she helped organize the Eastern Division Relay for Life Leadership Conference in November 2009 and was one of 12 students selected to serve as a breakout facilitator, a role that saw Ptaszenski and a student from Monmouth University lead a session about successful recruitment techniques. In all, about 30 students from colleges and universities from all over New Jersey and New York participated in the breakout session.

“I met my future supervisor, Michelle Daichman (senior director of Special Events) at the National Collegiate Summit,” Ptaszenski explained.

Later, Sagge encouraged Ptaszenski to apply as a communication and marketing intern for the North Brunswick office of the ACS. During the internship last spring, she worked alongside the director of Communication and Marketing.

Then this past fall, Sagge, who was attending the regional summit, e-mailed Ptaszenski that Rider had earned the title of “Top Performing College Relay in New Jersey” for the second year in the row. Sagge also gave her the heads-up that the North Brunswick office was considering adding additional staff and to send her résumé.

In February, Sagge followed up with Ptaszenski with promising news — the North Brunswick, office was beginning to interview for the manager of Special Events position and, if she was interested, to send her résumé. Again, Ptaszenski followed her fellow alumnas’s advice and applied for the position. Daichman later called her to schedule an interview. Ptaszenski was hired the same day of the interview.

In her new role, Ptaszenski will be helping to organize regional Relay for Life events —Rider’s 2011 Relay for Life on Saturday, March 26, will be her first event. She will also be working on Relays with The College of New Jersey, Hopewell-Pennington and South River, N.J. On her first week on the job, Ptaszenski returned back to the Lawrenceville campus where she met with this year’s student organizers.

“I went from organizing one event to four events,” said Ptaszenski with a laugh. “Between my experience of organizing at Relay, going to the national conference and interning with the ACS, I felt really prepared during the interview. It’s been an easy transition so far.”

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Megan Ptaszenski (second from right) was recently hired as the new Manager of Special Events for the American Cancer Society.