Getting to Know You

An interview with Jeff Yaeger ’04

Getting to Know You

An interview with Jeff Yaeger ’04

Jeff Yaeger ‘04 and Cheryl Sweetser ‘81
Jeff Yaeger ‘04 and Cheryl Sweetser ‘81 during the 2017 Alumni Cruise in Casco Bay. Photo: Sarah Beard Buckley.

I wanted to showcase some of the alumni who serve on the Alumni Board and so I sat down with Jeff Yaeger ’04 who majored in Finance. You may know him as having played baseball for two years and soccer for four years. He would say that his Monks claim to fame is that he has streaked through the quad twice…both times last summer at Alumni Weekend. But I digress. Jeff is a Channel Sales Manager for WEX and he lives with his wife, Michelle, and their two boys, Lucas (9) and Caleb (6) in their new home in Gorham. I am grateful for his service to the Board.

Jeff Yaeger ‘04 and Cheryl Sweetser ‘81 during the 2017 Alumni Cruise in Casco Bay.
Jeff Yaeger ‘04 and Cheryl Sweetser ‘81 during the 2017 Alumni Cruise in Casco Bay. Photo: Sarah Beard Buckley.

What do you do for fun?
Although I enjoy music and movies, right now my hobbies include whatever the boys happen to be into and, at the moment that is mostly basketball, but also baseball and soccer. I share their passion for soccer and have coached everywhere from youth clubs to college, including six years as an assistant at Saint Joe’s and three as an assistant at Bates. I mostly work with the goalkeeper and am thrilled with the quality of the goalkeeper tradition that Saint Joe’s has had over the years—although, with each great keeper I move further and further down the record books! I’m also currently coaching for the Gorham Youth Soccer Association.

Why did you choose to attend SJC?
I’m originally from Presque Isle, Maine, and had brothers who attended Orono. When I visited them, I felt that Orono was just too big. I wanted a place where I didn’t necessarily know every person on campus, but I at least recognized them. Saint Joseph’s offered that (as well as the opportunity to continue playing sports). The deciding moment during my visit was when I saw the sun come through the trees that were up where Alfond Hall is now. It was a beautiful fall day and I knew that was the place I wanted to be.

Why did you join the alumni board and choose to stay connected to the college?
The College shaped so much of who I am today. I had a wonderful base—a sense of self—when I left home, but Saint Joseph’s is where I really developed my sense of humor, my personality, and the type of friend, father, and husband that I have become. Staying involved with the school has become a way to keep me grounded in those traditions. I want to be a resource and mentor to some of the students who have come through after me. I was looking for a way to grow as a person and as a professional. Historically, the only reason I left my house was to work and to coach. So getting involved with a place that I have such a history with—and that has such an exciting future—seemed like a great way to learn and give back at the same time.

What do you enjoy the most about being an SJC Alum?
I love the people. Meeting people and talking to them, learning from them, and continuing to develop myself are things I truly enjoy. In all honesty, my interactions with SJC have been more with current students than with Alumni. But attending Alumni weekend and Monktoberfest opened the door for me to some wonderful people. Additionally, I feel like life is moving so fast around us that respecting tradition has become a lost art. I think if we forget the roots of the school and the spirit of service under which it was founded we can easily lose our direction. So talking to some of the older alums has opened my eyes to history that I wasn’t even aware we had.

Why do you think alums who are not involved with the college should get involved?
I think this varies from person to person. It could be to reconnect with the people that you sat with at lunch, talked to, and laughed with so hard that you realized you’d been hanging out in the cafeteria for two hours and didn’t even realize the passage of time. For others, it could be to learn what direction the school is heading and provide ideas on ways we, as alumni, could help. Or, maybe you’ve been very fortunate in your career and you can help a student find what their passion is or provide them with an opportunity to start out their career on the right foot.

At the end of the day, my goal is engagement. Everyone’s college experience was different. Some people pine for the opportunity to recapture a little of the magic of those years. For others, it was the most challenging and difficult time of their life. Either way, college life developed the person that you are today. Honoring where you come from is an important part of life.

Where would you like to see the college in 5-10 years?
I want to see leadership that can grow Saint Joseph’s brand—regionally and nationally—while understanding and respecting the College’s founding spirit. We have some very exciting things happening on campus—from elite athletics facilities and teams to plans for environmental and organizational sustainability. It’s not the same school that I went to 15 years ago, or in
fact others went to five years ago. But we all chose Saint Joseph’s for a reason and my hope is that at least one incoming student in the class of 2024 or 2032 chooses the College for the same reason each of us chose it back when our biggest worry was making friends with the person on your floor that had a car.