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Sven De Jong

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Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Bethany College, Bethany, 38

On his first paying job: 

"I did some part time work in high school. I sold knives to friends and family, and I also worked part-time restoring old homes and doing renovation work. I learned perseverance, and I gained a good work ethic and learned how to reach out to people."

Before becoming vice president for institutional advancement at Bethany College, Sven de Jong had a varied resume consisting of his experiences as a salesman, a mayor and a volunteer firefighter. 

De Jong, 38, grew up in Rockville, Md., and now calls Bethany home. At his current job, de Jong oversees a majority of the college's external affairs, including alumni, parent and church relations, communications, fundraising and enrollment.  

"I love having the ability to meet and engage with our alumni throughout the country," he said.

When he's not working, he attends concerts and plays. De Jong also has spent time in Germany, which is where his parents are from originally. 

"Nowadays, I spend a majority of time at work," he said. "Approximately 100 nights a year are spent traveling throughout the country." 

De Jong also attended Bethany College, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1995. He earned a master's degree from Eastern University in 2010. 

Before becoming the mayor of Bethany — a position in which he served for seven years — de Jong spent 15 years as a volunteer firefighter at the Bethany Volunteer Fire Department. 

"When I was a member for the volunteer fire department, I certainly had the ability to directly help people," he said. "However, I enjoy working with college-age students and watching them as they become young adults and enter the work force. I like to see what impact a place like Bethany has on their lives."