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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Women of Western: Q&A with Amber Asbjornsen

Welcome back to school, and welcome back to Women of Western! The next several blog posts will be dedicated to introducing some of the many women on campus who keep Western up and running.

We also hope to help any students on campus see what they can do to get to where the women faculty and staff at Western are now.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 73 million women were part of Americas work force in 2015. This is 46 percent of our nations total workforce.

Even with all of these women working in America, women are often underrepresented in movies as workers. You can see the clear misrepresentation in this graphic below. Movies are just one example of the entertainment industry doing a disservice to the amount of women in the workforce, including those at Western. 

Can you think of all the professors you have taken a class from, or staff in our many campus service centers, whom were women? According to the demographics on Westerns Equal Opportunity office site, 54.8 percent of faculty and staff at Western are women.


This week we talked to Amber Asbjornsen, director of development for the College of Science and Engineering, about her role on campus.


Amber Asbjornsen
Amber Asbjornsen


Q: Can you go into the description of your job?


A: My job is to raise money for programs, scholarships and faculty support. Its specifically focused on gifts of $25,000 or more. I do that by partnering with our alumni, parents and friends of the university who have a philanthropic interest in supporting a program or students at Western. At first, when you think ‘fundraiser’ it sounds like a scary job, but its really fun. You get to work with people who are philanthropic at heart and want to make a difference. I see myself as a matchmaker between the people who are interested in supporting Western and the programs who need the support.


Q: What path took you to the job you have now?


A: I started working at the foundation office when I was a student in the year 2000 as a phonathon caller. Its a group of about 40 students who call alumni and parents of Western and ask them for money to support the program they graduated from. Then, I was the student manager of the call center when I was a senior at Western. A couple years after I graduated, the job running the phonathon as a staff position was open, and I got it in 2004.  Ive worked various jobs within the foundation since…and Ive supported various programs and colleges over the years including Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies. My most recent job is at the College of Science Engineering, and Ive been doing that for about a year and a half. I always joke that its the equivalent of starting in the mailroom. And Im not the only one, I have a few colleagues that started as students at Western, and theyve been at Western ever since.


Q: What is your favorite moment working as a staff member at Western?


A: There’s so many favorite things. Working at Western allows me to be a student myself, even though Im not taking classes anymore, Im surrounded by such rich intellectual property. Theres always something new to learn. There have been a few moments of fundraising that have made real impact at the university, and it feels like a privilege to be a part of that. I can’t make big donations myself, but it feels cool to be a part of it.


Q: What advice would you give to women interested in a career similar to yours?


A:Look at every day as a learning opportunity and focus on the impact your work can make instead of worrying about how much money you’re suppose to be bringing in every year…That can be nerve-racking, but if you care about the cause and you work hard then that money come in on itself almost.


Thanks for reading. Have follow up questions or suggestions for Women at Western youd like to see represented? Let us know in the comments!


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