Spotlight on Humanities and Social Sciences Alumni: Nanette Levin
Occupation: Ghost writer, small business marketing consultant, author, book publisher, horse trainer
Education (UR and additional): B.A. English, Political Science – UR 1986
Current city/state of residence: Rochester, NY
Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?
It was the best school that accepted my application.
When and how did you choose your major?
Senior year – I came in as a Chemistry Major but decided after the first semester of pre-med weed-out classes that it would probably be best to avoid math and science fields (those curves that made a 16% an A weren’t for me). One area I felt extremely weak about was my writing skills. Interestingly, I discovered I was one course away from an English major when I finally felt proficient enough to function in the real world. Twenty-five years later, the majority of my life-time income has resulted from my pen, so to speak. Creating copy provides a wonderful artistic outlet too. I owe this discovery to the U of R. I also majored in Political Science (the courses were interesting, plus the math focus gave me an opportunity to exercise the left side of my brain).
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?
I headed to Ohio for a promised full-time job riding horses. Figured I’d better get that fever quelled before I was married or burdened with other responsibilities. It seemed smart at the time to ensure I didn’t spend the rest of my life wondering – or regretting – a decision that didn’t include exploring this path. It lasted three weeks. Ultimately (two years later), I found myself back in Rochester working part-time for the Democrat & Chronicle and partnering with a couple of gals from the local television media scene with a Public Relations Firm venture. I’ve been mostly writing for a living in one form or another ever since.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
I’ve been a small business owner since 1989. When I started Fulcrum Communications, companies were being screened by the receptionist at agencies and turned away if they didn’t verify a minimum $50k budget. The mantra then was, ‘it costs just as much to manage a small company as a large one.’ Small businesses were generally considered more trouble than they were worth. Smaller budgets and an unwillingness to toss a ton of cash at a suggested solution without being able to measure results were part of the reason for this. Addy Awards didn’t put food on their table. It was great fun being able to offer solutions that made sense to small businesses while making a difference in the lives of the owners and staff as well as through legislation with advocacy work.
Today small businesses have gained respect. Plus, There are tons of tax dollars being thrown at programs designed to provide no or low-cost assistance. So, I’m putting more focus on Horse Sense and Cents® with its products and services for people who want to learn better ways to keep the horse in the conversation.
How are you still connected with the University?
I’ve been on the planning committee for two reunions since the college instituted Meliora Weekend (which is a wonderful initiative that I shout about to all who will listen). It’s invigorating to come back to the campus for these events to gain insight from the fabulous speakers while witnessing the growth of the facilities, plus, of course, catching up with old friends.
In addition, I’ve done work for the Simon School.
What advice do you have for current students?
Reach out to the leaders at the college. Joel Seligman, Mark Zupan and others are not only internationally celebrated for their past and current contributions to the world, but humble and accessible. Why not risk getting a ‘no’ for the chance to have an audience with one that may offer a life changing experience?