Coming Home, Giving Back
A specialist in the early folk music of Black Americans and a skilled performer of spirituals, blues, and string band repertoire, Blount was introduced to the banjo during his first semester at Hamilton. It’s how he connected with Lydia Hamessley, the Eugene M. Tobin Distinguished Professor of Music, who then became his advisor as he designed his own course of study focused on the early traditional music of Black communities in the United States.
In the decade since first arriving on College Hill, Blount graduated with a degree in ethnomusicology (through Hamilton’s interdisciplinary concentration), released three albums, earned the famed Steve Martin Banjo Prize (2020), and has been a two-time winner of the Appalachian String Band Music Festival (better known as Clifftop). His work has been praised by Rolling Stone and earned him performances at venues including the Kennedy Center, Newport Folk Festival, the Library of Congress, and NPR’s Tiny Desk.
Hamilton alumni often return to campus because they are passionate about supporting students. While on College Hill, they frequently share professional expertise and personal experiences, speak in classes, offer lectures, recruit, host workshops, and meet individually with students. During the last academic year alone, more than 430 alumni helped students through the College’s Career Center with many providing internships, job-shadowing opportunities, and other career-related experiences.
In addition to Blount, here is just a sampling of alumni who recently came back to Hamilton.
Bestselling Author Kamila Shamsie ’94
Students and faculty spent an evening this spring in the Chapel listening to Kamila Shamsie ’94 read several passages from her latest novel, Best of Friends (Riverhead Books, 2022).
Shamsie, who majored in creative writing at Hamilton, regularly returns to campus for readings.
Renowned Climate Scientist Jonathan Overpeck ’79
Jonathan Overpeck ’79, who is the Samuel A. Graham Dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan, was one of 33 lead authors on the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore. (Photos: Dave Tewksbury)
Students have many opportunities to learn from Hamilton alumni. In addition to virtual visits, here are just a few of the other Hamiltonians who have come to campus to connect in recent months:
CEO of Brooklyn Public Library Linda Johnson ’80 met with students to discuss the nonprofit world and her experience in the industry. Read about Linda
Sarah Piel ’92, a specialist in infant and early childhood development, early intervention and special education, shared her experiences working in the education sector.
Gabriel Linden ’20 and Daniela Gonzalez ’19 joined Roy Aharon ’23 for a panel about how Hamilton’s Joan Hinde Stewart Career Development Program supported them. The program provides a comprehensive four-year program of career-related counseling and guidance to exceptional students with financial need.
First-amendment lawyer Michael Grygiel ’79 returned for a Government and Law Spotlight. He is co-chair of the National Media and Entertainment Litigation Group for Greenberg Trauig, LLP.
A number of alumni also visit on behalf of their companies and organizations in order to share their work experiences and recruit students for internships and job opportunities:
Kyle Clark ’22 and Jake Camel ’21 represented Tomo, a startup founded by former Zillow executive Greg Schwartz ’94 that is “transforming home buying into a customer-centric, streamlined experience.”
Stewart Lloyd ’08, Winnie Tang ’17, Brandon Willett ’18, Amanda Kim ’21, and Jafar Sharipov ’21 hosted an information session and networking reception on behalf of Deutsche Bank.
Katie Gagnon ’21 spoke with students about her work as a business analyst for The Seurat Group, an innovative, boutique, insights-driven consumer packaged goods consulting and private equity firm.
Athina Chartelain ’13 and Maria Treacy ’12 facilitated an interactive information session and panel discussion to help students learn more about working at Wayfair.
Go ahead. Fill in the blank. There’s no shortage of possibilities Because Hamiltonians make an impact in their professions and communities throughout the world.