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“I’m glad I got to grow up here.”

Tamara Fouché’10 has returned to Beloit as Director of Advancement and President Liaison. Her busy, politically active student days — which included introducing then-Senator Barack Obama when he spoke on campus in 2008 — deeply influenced her and her career thus far.

How did you start working in Beloit’s advancement office?

I have been doing advancement-type work since I graduated. I kept in touch with President Scott Bierman throughout the years. I was the only student on the search committee that hired him. It was a lot of pressure, but it was a good experience representing the student body. I got to meet trustees and staff and faculty that I didn’t know before. [Scott and I] forged a great friendship and working relationship. He came to me in March 2021 and said, “What do you think about coming back to the college?” And I said, “Tell me more!” I have always loved Beloit — it was very good to me — so it just made sense. It was still in the same realm [as my previous jobs], but it’s nice because I’m back at a place that I care about, that I know very well. It was just a natural fit; puzzle pieces fitting together.

In advancement, we are tasked with working with Beloit’s supporters — alumni, friends of the college, community members — to raise money for the college. In my role specifically, I have lots of one-on-one conversations and I support Scott in his efforts to raise significant dollars for the college. I love doing this work, because I get to speak enthusiastically about the school I love, with other people who also love Beloit!

I am still working remotely from Chicago, but I come up from time to time for meetings and events. It is a nice full circle moment being back at Beloit — it feels strange because now most of my time is spent in Middle College and Alumni House, when before I was always on the residential side or in the Student Excellence and Leadership building, in South College.

What were you involved in while you were a student?

I was an RA, part of Black Students United, and in TRIO [a nationally-funded program to help high schoolers apply to college]. I was a McNair Scholar, which prepares low-income, first generation, and students of color for pursuing grad school. I started a club called Students for Barack Obama, and that took up the majority of my time and energy. I went to volunteer at the [campaign’s] volunteer headquarters. Camp Obama was run by the campaign to train people to send them out to early states. I ended up working really well with the lady who ran it, and she asked, “Do you just want to intern for me here?” I was like, “Yeah!” From that, I was super invested, so I came back to campus and started the club. People were really supportive, and I’d say it was one of the more successful campus clubs.

Tamara Fouché addresses the crowd before introducing Senator Barack Obama in 2008. Tamara Fouché addresses the crowd before introducing Senator Barack Obama in 2008.It culminated in then-Senator Obama coming to campus [preceding the primaries in February, 2008] — and I got to introduce him. It was amazing. That was a really memorable moment in my life. I’m glad the school was supportive in terms of giving students room to explore and do things. The school gave me room to spread my wings. Beloit invested in me as a person.

What did you study?

I was a sociology major and a political science minor. My professors were excellent and really worked on developing my confidence as a researcher, as an academic, and as a student. When you go out in the world, you know you can think for yourself and you can learn anything.

The ability to learn was paramount to the Beloit experience. I know that sounds a little weird, but knowing how to learn is not something that everyone knows how to do. It’s not just being open to information, but it’s also having a critical mind, having a worldly understanding of different topics and issues, and also having a theoretical basis so that you can understand different arguments people are making and where they come from.

Which professors stood out to you?

My McNair advisor was Georgia Duerst-Lahti. She’s now retired, but taught in political science. I’d say she’s a titan of the field of presidential politics and gender in politics. Definitely [the late Professor of Sociology] Carla Davis. I would credit her a lot with my understanding of the world in terms of race, class, and gender and the way our world is organized. Without that basis, you’re pretty lost in terms of how things actually are working. Kate Linnenberg, Charles Westerberg — all excellent. Those are the ones who formed me as a student and as an intellectual person. I was all over the place [in my career], so I think that was the other thing: Beloit makes you feel like you can pursue anything and be good at it.

How did you end up at Beloit?

I’m from Skokie, Illinois. I applied to the University of Illinois and the University of Iowa, and I got into their honors colleges, but I didn’t want to go there. I visited them and was like, “These are huge schools. No one is paying attention in the lecture. I will get lost here.” I applied to Beloit. I had a really interesting conversation with Kate Virgo — she was my admissions officer [and current director of enrollment information systems] — and she was like, “You should do a campus visit.”

My overnight host was wonderful. The next day, I did a tour and visited a women’s and gender studies class, which was fascinating for me. The professor came to talk to me afterwards. She really engaged me in conversation, and it was such a different experience from when I visited those giant schools where no one was talking to professors. This professor took me aside and said, “I think you would do really well here.”

I had an amazing experience at Beloit and it’s paid back in dividends. I am glad I made that decision and the stars aligned with the visit. Not to say that everything was perfect, but things worked out. I think that’s just part of the growing pains of being in your late teens and early twenties. Your life is kind of crazy and you’re learning a lot and changing. That’s part of growing up. I’m glad I got to grow up here.

Meg Kulikowski’21
December 16, 2021
  • Tamara Fouché’10
    RoGina Montgomery Photography

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