On an unseasonably warm Friday afternoon in April, sounds of acoustic old-time roots music streamed from the Schambach Center courtesy of award-winning musician Jake Blount ’17 and his banjo. The informal concert was part of his short trip to Clinton that included attending a dance class, meeting with students in the Days-Massolo Center, reconnecting with a faculty mentor, and performing at the local Kirkland Arts Center.

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.

NPR Tiny Desk concert

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, 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.

Hamilton Career NetworkStudents 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:

Linda JohnsonCEO 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 ClarkKyle 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.” Read about Greg

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.

Athina ChartelainKatie 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.

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