Confidence and Camaraderie: Alum Coaches Students in the Building Blocks of Success


By Andrea O'Neill '06
Pam Hallstead stands in front of Columbia Hall after graduation in 1984
Pam (Weaver) Halstead stands in front of Columbia Hall after graduation in 1984

Pam (Weaver) Halstead '84 did not intend to become a regular volunteer with Bloomsburg when she reached out to her alma mater to propose an alumni social in the Seattle area about twenty years ago.

After more than a few phone calls and emails, she and the Bloomsburg Alumni Association hosted a Sunday brunch for Huskies in the Pacific Northwest. She hosted several of those brunches over the next few years and realized she enjoyed interacting with fellow alumni.

"I enjoyed doing it. It was a fun experience, and [I thought], 'Wow, I have a lot of experience.' I've moved around so much, maybe I can share my experiences with students on how relocating broadened my career opportunities. "

The Business/Economics major moved from her small Pennsylvania hometown to Miami right after graduation to build a banking career in audit, compliance and risk management. Though now retired, Halstead recalls enjoying the part of her career that allowed her to mentor others. So, years after that social in Seattle, Halstead joined the Professional U career community of alumni, faculty/staff, and employer partners tasked with helping fellow Huskies navigate the transition from college student to confident professional.

"I don't even think I knew what being ‘prepared’ for the workforce meant," explained Halstead. "[Bloomsburg] gave me a baseline, but I didn't know how to apply what I had learned. The ability to connect with others is beneficial because when we understand each other, we communicate better and [are able to] build camaraderie and achieve goals as a team."

Halstead initially volunteered as an alumni panelist and mock interviewer for the Career Intensive Boot Camp and was pleasantly surprised at the professionalism students exhibited and sought to build upon their skills.

"I was blown away," recalled Halstead. They interacted with me, meeting me in the conversation, and I was really impressed with how prepared and engaged they were."

Halstead also tries to impress upon the students is that one can be successful anywhere and that success depends on building relationships and understanding others. She thinks back to her younger self, who made that transition from a small town to a metropolitan area at the same time she made the transition from student to professional. She says that alumni who now live far from Bloomsburg are uniquely positioned to help students because of their unique perspectives and how they impacted their own career opportunities.

"It's really a big miss of an opportunity if alumni who live in other places don't reach out to help students who don't have a greater worldview or understanding," said Halstead. “I learned that you can't be so regimented that you miss inevitable opportunities. It's okay to be afraid and take risks."