After growing up in the Galesburg area as the niece, daughter and granddaughter of Prairie Fire alumni, Megan Scott thought coming to Knox College was the last thing she wanted. She wound up graduating in 1996, marrying one of her classmates and devoting another 14 years to the school as an employee.
Less than a week away from moving on to a new opportunity at Lawrence University, the current Vice President for Communicatins reflected on her years as a member of the Knox community and the emotions involved in making the transition.
“The easiest way to describe it is bittersweet in all honesty,” Scott said.
As a student, Scott worked on Catch and as an editor on The Knox Student, eventually majoring in English Literature. While she enjoyed her time as a student at Knox, Scott expected to leave it all behind when she graduated and began a career in publishing.
“I never planned on coming back to the area, but life – you know – pulls you in different directions” Scott said.
It was Scott’s husband, fellow Knox alumnus and Latin teacher Brian Tibbets, who led them back to the area after finding an open position at a school in Monmouth.
“I was like ‘no, we’re not going back to Galesburg!’ But it ended up being a really great job for him, and so he had moved twice for me, so we moved back to the area,” she said.
Scott spent nine months commuting between Iowa City and Galesburg before, in 2004, the connections she had kept at Knox led to an offer to work in communications as editor of the Knox Magazine. Scott jumped at the chance.
“Always my goal was just to do right by Knox, to tell the best stories and to help communicate the benefits of a Knox education to alumni,” she said.
The Office of Communications that Scott oversees was created just six years ago, in an effort by President Teresa Amott to consolidate the aspects of communications that were back then widely spread across various departments.
“My job is never boring. We oversee everything that has to do with the public image of Knox,” she said. “I love the challenge that presents.”
Upon its creation, the office immediately had a major task of relaunching Knox’s entire website and admission communications within 14 months. The success of her office in pulling together left Scott with great pride.
“That was a lot of work. And we did it. We came together as an office and we launched on time, on budget, an award-winning website,” she said. “Looking back I think, wow, how did we do that in that amount of time?”
Scott is also proud of her involvement in the logo and mascot redesign that introduced Blaze to Knox in 2016. Scott thought the new energy was largely needed, the old logo having been around since her college days. While the redesign received a CASE award, but what brought the most satisfaction to Scott was the way the student body embraced Blaze.
“Everytime I see a button of the logo out on someone’s t-shirt or jacket I get really proud,” Scott noted.
Scott has loved experiencing the various star commencement speakers brought to Knox over the years, but it was then-Senator Barack Obama’s 2005 commencement visit that drew her greatest excitement. She had volunteered for his senate campaign and was then given to chance to interview him for Knox Magazine.
Scott describes the day of Obama’s address as a dramatic one. The campus internet connection was cut off for the day, which became a major problem when the Senator arrived slightly late with his speech not yet printed, requiring a rush off campus to print the speech.
“So I was supposed to interview him before commencement, but because of all the drama about trying to get the speech that ended up becoming the platform of his presidential candidacy… I didn’t have as much time with him,” she said.
But in the 10 minutes Scott did get one-on-one with Obama to chat about public service, a large impression was made.
“He was so cool and collected and I just remember walking out of that interview being like, oh my god, that’s the next president,” she said.
Years later, Scott got another presidential experience when Obama returned to campus in 2013, a visit that was even more wild than the first.
“Our office essentially became the White House Press Corps, because we were sort of the central office for all the communication points,” Scott said. “The sheer amount of secret service and staff who came in for the presidential visit, and then they sort of turn your life upside down for a week.”
Scott has built firm roots in the Knox community. She invited faculty to her wedding, and some of her former professors remain at Knox, such as her honors project advisor Robin Metz.
“You tell students that maybe it’s hard to imagine ten, fifteen years after leaving Knox that you’re still talking to some of your faculty and friends on a regular basis. And it’s true, you make those connections,” she said.
As a student employee in public relations, she never expected the people she worked for would become her colleagues today, like Administrative Assistant Colleen Culbertson and Associate Director of Communications Peter Bailley.
Scott will miss the students in the communications department she’s built relationships with, such as the recent graduate she’s made plans to see over homecoming.
“It is sort of funny how life turns around that way. the student workers that I’ve gotten to know and I’ve kept in touch with even after they left has meant a lot to me,” she said.
Scott will also miss her duties on the Knox Magazine, which she described as a consistent creative outlet even as her role at the school became more administrative. But there are elements of moving on that Scott looks forward to.
“I have edited 28 issues of class notes and so I’m excited to be able to just submit an update about my life and catch up with my friends and classmates and not have to edit it,” she said.
Scott is in the busiest stages of transition, making sure she’s left everything in progress at the communications office in good shape, and preparing for her first time making a move with children. But what she’s confident about is that the connection she’s made in this community will remain strong.
“Knox will forever be home for me,” Scott said.