January Alumni Spotlight: Erin Michalik Klarer
We begin our 2015 Alumni Spotlight series with Erin Michalik Klarer, 2004 Honors Scholar. Erin graduated from EKU with a bachelor’s degree in English with a dual emphasis in literature and technical writing and a certificate in Women’s Studies. Her Honors thesis was titled “Comic Books and Popular Culture: Reflections Through Art and Literature.” While at EKU, Erin served as President of the Women’s Activist Group and was active in the Student Government Association, serving as Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee and as Chief of Staff. Erin continued her education at the University of Louisville and received a master’s degree in public administration in 2008. While there, she served as President of the Masters of Public Administration Society.
Currently Erin is the Vice President of Government Relations for the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA)/Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation (KHESLC). She represents both agencies and the concerns of students and families regarding higher education financing at the state and federal level and other industry associations and organizations. She assists in shepherding agency bills through the legislative process and coordinates bill reviews for other legislation pertaining to government grants and scholarships, student loans, education savings plans, as well as for issues that would affect state employees. She notes, “It's as if the sun and the moon and the stars became aligned: one of the Honors Program research projects I participated in dealt with access to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), something that I now deal with on a daily basis. And as Chair of Academic Affairs with Student Government, I became involved with an issue involving changes to the EKU grading scale and how it affected students' financial aid, especially Honors Program students. Little did I know that both of these events would be a precursor to my career!”
Outside of work, Erin is married to John and they have two children, William (3) and Charlotte (5 months), and a dog, Wendy. Their family enjoys travel – in even years, they try to go somewhere new in the United States; in odd years, they travel internationally. Erin also has a passion for community service. She volunteered in Kenya for a month following her EKU graduation with fellow Honors alum, Rushda Majeed. She often volunteers with Brightside in community-wide cleanups in Louisville and with Habitat for Humanity’s all-female build, Women for Habitat, as well as various bicycling events and charity rides. Currently, Erin is trying to begin a young professionals group in Frankfort.
Favorite Honors Memory: “There are so many. Late night discussions on the Sullivan porch, pizza suppers, Quick Recall, intermural activities and definitely traveling. Once in NYC I convinced a group of Honors students that we should just pop over to Marvel Comics' headquarters to take a tour and try to meet Stan Lee. You know, before we had to rush back and catch the bus headed home. After first taking everybody in the completely wrong direction (Hells' Kitchen, maybe? This was pre-Google Maps...), here we are, a bunch of out-of-breath kids from Kentucky standing in the lobby politely asking for an audience with Stan the Man. And it's just a regular office: cubicles, bad lighting, a potted plant or two. But I will never forget the look on the employees' faces! They quit doing tours after 9/11, and Stan was semi-retired in LA, but you know what? The adventure to get there was fun enough. I think we hit up the comic book store after that. I apologize, again, for getting us lost.”
Advice for Honors Students: “I didn't like my major and was undeclared for a while, worried about what I was going to be when I grew up. Dr. Ron Messerich gave me the best advice: he said to study what you enjoy as an undergraduate; a master's degree is for your profession. Between that and finding my passion in government and advocacy, I'd say that it worked out!”
Erin's children, William and Charlotte.
Interested in reading about more of our featured alumni? Visit the Alumni Spotlight Archive!
Are you an Honors Program alum? Be sure to visit our Alumni page.
Published on January 05, 2015