On a warm spring day in 2004, Laura Zagby-Dye ’03 carefully thumbed through a binder of job listings posted at the College of Charleston’s Career Center as her thoughts wandered to life since graduation.
It had been nearly 10 months since she’d walked across the Cistern Yard as a triple major in philosophy, corporate communications and religious studies, and the question weighing on her mind was how to make a career out of her academic pursuits.
Then her eyes landed on a job posting with the South Carolina Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross. Nearly 13 years later, Zagby-Dye continues to find personal and professional fulfillment from her work as an account manager for donor recruitment.
“My favorite part of my philosophy and religious studies course work was applied ethics. The idea of what you should do and why you should do it always interested me,” Zagby-Dye says. “And, donating blood fits in well with that subject. That interest coupled with my communication course work worked perfectly to prepare me for this job.”
Last year Zagby-Dye was honored for her work organizing blood drives in Berkeley County and North Charleston when the American Red Cross presented her the Presidential Award for Excellence, which recognizes employees or volunteers who demonstrate superior performance within the organization’s priorities. The humanitarian nonprofit recognized Zagby-Dye for her efforts in mission fulfillment. During fiscal year 2015, the former Cougar’s efforts helped her exceed collection goals each month, success that put her in the top 3 percent of her Red Cross peers nationally.
“Laura has an innate ability to plan highly efficient drives and ensures their success through effective communication among all those involved, which leads to more lives saved,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer for the American Red Cross in South Carolina, in a 2016 news release.
Zagby-Dye says her work isn’t all that glamorous, but it is definitely rewarding. She meets with businesses, schools and church groups about hosting blood drives and then supports their efforts to ensure they have a successful event.
“It’s essentially a sales job, but there’s a lot of education, public speaking and marketing involved,” she says. “My job is to convince the community to make the right choice and do the right thing – start blood drive programs and donate blood to help save lives. It is as simple and as complicated as that.”
Her job isn’t is boring. On one day Zagby-Dye might find herself doing an interview with a local news station to promote a blood drive. The next she might be in front of a room full of first graders talking about why their parents should donate blood.
“There’s an array of tasks and responsibilities,” she says. “There’s always something new and different I can be doing and I love meeting and working with people of all ages and from all walks of life.”
Humble about the award for her work, Zagby-Dye simply says “it was nice to be recognized like that.”
But what really keeps her passionate about her work are the people whose lives are touched through blood donation. And because March is Red Cross month, it’s a great time to remember the significant services the Red Cross and its volunteers provide.
“When you are doing this job, you meet many blood recipients or people who know someone who is a recipient and when you hear those stories, it’s extra motivating,” she says. “It reminds you why you do this job. Because they wouldn’t be here without the selflessness and generosity of volunteer blood donors.”