Spotlight on Humanities and Social Sciences Alumni: Nanette Levin

Name: Nanette Levin
Age: 47
Occupation: Book publisher, horse trainer
Education (UR and additional): B.A. in English and B.A. in Political Science, University of Rochester, 1986.
Current city/state of residence: Potter, 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 if I wanted to feel fulfilled about my college learning experience, it would probably be best to avoid math and science fields (there’s something about a curve that makes a 16% an A that takes the pride of accomplished understanding away). 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 is one of my favorite activities and a wonderful artistic outlet. I owe this discovery (and associated career opportunities) to the U of R. I also was one course away from a Political Science major (just found the courses interesting – and the way they were being taught at the time gave me ample opportunity to exercise my math muscles), so graduated with a double major.

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 so I didn’t spend the rest of my life regretting not exploring my passion as a career (much to the chagrin of my parents, who helped fund my college education). It lasted three weeks (don’t recall hopping aboard a single horse during that time – but built some muscles wielding a pitch fork). Ultimately (two years later) I found myself back in Rochester working part-time for the Democrat & Chronicle and partnering with a couple of gals well known on 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 own several companies, including BookConductors®, LLC (a book publishing company focused separately on the equine and entrepreneurial niches), Halcyon Acres® (a horse breeding and training facility) and am in the process of winding down Fulcrum Communications (leveraging inventive marketing solutions for small business and not-for-profits). Primary energy has been devoted to the Horse Sense and Cents™ initiative of late (under the umbrella of BookConductors®) where I’m hoping to combine my writing and horse passions under a single charge. The career path choice is largely the result of introspection with an eye toward where I want to be in 20 years (not risking my neck on young horses nor having my income directly tied to my time).

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 wonderful 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. On the small world front (this had nothing to do with my alumni status at the U of R) I’ve also been a service provider for the Simon School with newspaper/magazine copy writing and other (more confidential) prose for publication and publicity. In fact, I was introduced to Mark Zupan (a gem of a hire in my opinion) while he was still in Arizona preparing to come to New York to assume the helm. The leadership of this University is so different now (much more accessible and enlightened than when I was a student), which bodes well any current and future student.

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. Ten minutes gaining insight from them will change your life. Why not risk a no for the chance of an audience with one that may offer a life changing experience.