Dedman School welcomes director of development Sarishni Patel
When Sarishni Patel joined the staff of the Dedman School of Hospitality as director of development in November, she was impressed.
“I regularly saw Dedman faculty engaging with students outside the classroom,” said Patel. “Not only were they talking about internship options or which employers students should begin their careers with, but they were asking students about their Thanksgiving plans, their families, and checking in on their emotional well-being. It reaffirmed for me that this was the right choice.”
That’s no small praise coming from a go-getter like Patel, who not only earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at Florida State University, but developed an impressive career fundraising for the FSU Foundation while doing so.
“The moment I stepped onto the FSU campus, I felt at home,” said Patel, who during her senior year in high school organized a tour of the top five universities in Florida for fellow students in Miami.
Patel wanted to study public relations because it comprised her interests in traveling, meeting people, and being creative. “Because FSU’s School of Communications is a limited access program, one of the happiest moments of my life was when I was accepted as a public relations major,” she said.
Throughout her years as an undergraduate, Patel worked as a highly successful student fundraiser and student supervisor for the FSU Foundation. Shortly before graduating with honors in 2006, she realized she would not be happy working at a public relations agency. Instead, she chose to pursue a master’s degree in higher education with an emphasis on finance and administration.
During graduate school, Patel worked for the Foundation as a graduate assistant in its Annual Giving office and Office of the President. Upon graduation, the Foundation offered her a full-time position as its stewardship coordinator. In that role, she was able to successfully invigorate their stewardship program.
“After a few years, I got the itch to do something more,” Patel said. “It was during the recession and some of the university’s best faculty and students were being recruited away. I thought, ‘I can do something to help. I know how to raise money.’”
Around the same time, the Foundation was rebuilding their Annual Giving program. Patel was hired as assistant director. She helped relaunch fundraising programs important to the daily operations of colleges and units, including FSU’s Great Give – one of the first successful hyper-campaigns in the U.S.
Patel went on to work as the director of development for the FSU College of Engineer for four and a half years. During that time, she helped create a fundraising program that expanded their number of corporate partners, brought alumni engagement to all-time high, and enabled their development numbers to soar.
“We are very excited to have Sarishni on our team,” said Don Farr, director of the Dedman School. “We know her 16 years of successful experience with the FSU Foundation will ultimately translate into our being able to provide more opportunities for our students.”