Sarah St. Clair ’89, M.S. ‘91
“I grew up in a small town of about 1300 people, so to me the diversity at Radford University was amazing,” says Sarah St. Clair ’89, M.S. ‘91. “It opened my eyes to a much larger world around me.”
St. Clair serves as the Vice President of People Services at Booz Allen Hamilton, a management consulting firm based out of Northern Virginia. In this role, St. Clair serves as Deputy to the Chief Personnel Officer to ensure that the firm’s people agenda supports the business and helps attract, develop and retain staff.
“Basically, I support the firm as it relates to people,” St. Clair explains.
It is somewhat surprising to see St. Clair in such a position, considering her first impression of the business world was not great. “When I started at Radford University, I was a business major, but I just found it very boring,” St. Clair continues. “I’ve always been interested in psychology – interested in people overall.
“So I changed my major to psychology.”
Changing majors served another purpose to St. Clair, beyond that of curriculum. It also served as the catalyst that kept her at Radford University.
“When I first arrived here, I came in thinking that I would eventually transfer to another school,” St. Clair explains. “But when I moved to psychology, I met my advisor, Professor Michael Aamodt, who was influential in my education. He helped me work through whether or not I should even complete my education at Radford University.”
Dr. Aamodt was also able to assist St. Clair in gaining skills that could not be taught in a classroom. “He was influential in helping me network and helping me gain practical experience in the real world,” St. Clair adds.
Upon graduating with an undergraduate degree in psychology, St. Clair continued her education at Radford University, earning her master of science in industrial and organizational psychology.
“Because of the networking and the experience that I had,” St. Clair explains, “after graduation I was able to secure a position that four other Radford University graduates had also applied for.”
So how does a psychology major who found business too boring get into the field of human resources? For St. Clair, the transition was pretty simple. “I wanted to get into the business world because I wanted something practical for a job,” St. Clair explains. “So I looked for a way to combine business and psychology, to connect the business components with the people components.
“By knowing what makes people tick, I know what makes a business tick. I know how to maximize the business’s potential by maximizing the worker’s potential.”
St. Clair’s stay at Radford University was longer than she originally anticipated, but she has no regrets. “I worked my way through college, so I wasn’t able to experience a lot of extracurricular activities, but I still felt like a part of this larger community,” she explains.
Speaking of the community, St. Clair has the following words of wisdom for current and future Highlanders.
“Don’t be afraid to branch out and try new things while you are in college,” St. Clair adds. “The relationships I made at Radford University are long lasting. Several people I met at Radford are still among my best friends.”