Alumni Spotlight: Joan Stamp
Marketing Grad Inducted into the Order of Vandalia
"Lasting friendships, lifelong friendships. Fun experiences, time to learn and grow. It's one of the best times of your life."
This is how Joan Corson Stamp, a 1973 marketing graduate, summed up her years at West Virginia University.
During a whirlwind weekend when more than 100 family members from across the country descended upon her hometown of Wheeling, W.Va., for a reunion, Stamp and her immediate family spent a very special afternoon in Morgantown on June 8 as she was inducted into the University's prestigious Order of Vandalia, which recognizes individuals who have made far-reaching contributions to WVU long after their college years.
"It was so humbling to be selected to join a group of such incredible, outstanding people," Stamp said. "The Vandalia members have done so much for WVU. I was very, very honored to become a part of that group. It was a little overwhelming, in fact. Just wonderful."
But Stamp has certainly earned the accolade, as she has served as a member of several corporate and charitable boards throughout the University and the state of West Virginia in areas such as academia, music and the arts, biological sciences and banking.
"I enjoy helping organizations. In Wheeling, we have a bit of an economic downturn. We want to keep the symphony and the museums in Wheeling because it adds to the quality of life. I enjoy the philanthropy and the arts, but my absolute favorite (area to serve) has been the WVU Foundation," she said. "The people are wonderful. There's great camaraderie among the board. The staff is just fabulous. We have a great time and it has been a great honor for me to serve. It's the best nonprofit I've ever worked with."
She has been a Director on the WVU Foundation Board since June 1998, and currently serves as chair of two committees. Her final of five three-year terms is coming to a close, but she will still remain an active member of the WVU community in several ways, including as a founding member of the Friends of the Arts Museum at WVU, as a co-chair of the Northern Panhandle A State of Minds Committee and a member-at-large for the national A State of Minds campaign, positions she truly enjoys.
"We had an outstanding campaign event here in Wheeling," she said. "Feedback from the school said it was one of the best they'd had so far. It was well attended; people especially loved (WVU President) Jim Clements, his energy, his delivery of what is going on at the school. (Attendees) came away saying ‘Wow, we didn't know all of that was going on at West Virginia University.' It gets people excited, and then they want to be a part of it. I think the campaign is helping to reconnect with both alums and non-alums in various communities — and it's spreading some excitement for WVU."
Previously, Stamp served as a member of the WVU Rosenbaum Family House Board of Advisors, twice chaired the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center Gala and along with her husband, the Honorable Frederick P. Stamp Jr., was named one of Mountaineer Week 2010's Most Loyal West Virginians. Outside of WVU, she has given her time and talent as a board member of Wesbanco, Inc., the Community Foundation of the Ohio Valley, the Oglebay Foundation, the Wheeling Symphony Society, the West Virginia Arts Commission, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the American Symphony Orchestra League and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.
That's a lengthy list of service, but the motivation behind it is short and sweet.
"Because I love it," Stamp said, without hesitation.
"I had such a wonderful experience at West Virginia University. My dad (Louis D. Corson) wrote the alma mater and received two degrees from WVU and loved it so much. He wanted me to experience that," she explained.
Stamp had attended a small, all-girls school in the Washington D.C. area and said that it was a big, but welcome, change to join the Mountaineer family, which at the time was about 20,000 students strong.
"It was a little overwhelming at first, but what a great experience. Joining Kappa Kappa Gamma was a way to find a group that I felt very comfortable with, a great group of friends for support and with similar interests," she said.
Originally a chemistry major, Stamp switched to B&E when she realized that the science and the long lab hours that accompanied it weren't her passion.
"I absolutely loved economics, money and banking, but marketing was my favorite of any of the courses I took," she said, explaining she was drawn by the creative licensing allowed by the field.
"In marketing, you can have fun when presenting ideas. Some business disciplines are very structured and constant, but marketing is unlimited to your ideas and creativity. That knowledge has served me well," she said.
She's referring in particular to her self-started, self-run jewelry business, BeadJeweled. What was originally a beloved shared pastime with her daughter, Stamp turned the hobby into a business after her children, Andy and Elizabeth, left home for college and has been selling her designs for about seven years.
"It's been a lot of fun. It's hard to market yourself; it's easier to market somebody else," she said.
But despite how difficult it may be, she has found success. Four outlets carry her handmade jewelry: two in Wheeling, one in Charleston, S.C., and one at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulfur Springs, W.Va.
"Everything is handmade by me, I ship the pieces or hand-deliver them to these outlets. It keeps me very busy. The marketing and business degree certainly helped. I do all my taxes and I was able to get (the business) up and going in no time," Stamp said.
One piece of advice Stamp has for current students is to take chances.
"We have a wonderful entrepreneurship division now," she said, referring to the newly named BrickStreet Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. "Don't be afraid to give it a shot. Give it a try. When I came out of school, I was a little afraid to try entrepreneurship, but it's great. I love working for myself. And don't be afraid to try different things to find your passion."
She also stressed the importance of giving back and staying connected.
"Experiencing college will give you a career. But for all that it has given you, in time, if you have the ability, it is really fun to give back," she said. "WVU is a major force in the national scene for schools and it's a great place to call home. I had great experiences meeting wonderful people through the visiting committees at WVU and the Foundation Board. It's wonderful to know people who are all so loyal to WVU," she said. "It's so gratifying to help others and to help organizations. I hope you'll try it."