Coming Back, Giving Back

Kelsey Hatch-Brecek, EWU’s new director of alumni relations, shares her Eastern story.

I am thrilled to be back at my alma mater as the new director of alumni relations. And since every Eagle has a story, I’d like to share my Eastern journey with you. 

Back in 1999, I was a senior in high school in my hometown of Matawa, Washington. I knew I wanted to go to college and, as a third-generation Eagle, I knew also that my choice would be Eastern. Unfortunately, I didn’t put a lot of effort into my application. Early that winter, I opened the mailbox to find the dreaded thin envelope: “We regret to inform you that you have not been accepted at EWU,” the letter read. 

Kelsey Hatch-Brecek

I was devastated, but undaunted. I appealed the decision, explaining why Eastern needed me. I told admissions staff about my energetic involvement in high school extracurriculars, of the challenges my mom and I faced in a single-parent household, of how I was certain I would make a positive impact as an EWU student. In February 2000, I got a second letter. I was in. I was going to be an Eagle!

Transitioning to student life turned out to be tougher than I thought. Even though I was living in Cheney, where I had grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, it was my first time away from my mom. I missed my friends and small-town life. It even snowed on my first day of classes at Eastern, which I somehow interpreted as a sign that I didn’t belong. I wanted to quit literally every day. But I kept going. I kept pushing myself. Soon, I was participating in Eagle Entertainment and EWU Softball. My circle of friends grew, and I found myself the happiest I had ever been. 

I walked in the June 2005 ceremony, despite having a math class left to complete. I then landed a summer internship with a local event planning company, where I had ambitions to become the next celebrity wedding planner. 

I didn’t become a celebrity, and I didn’t finish that math class. But I spent the next 16 years happily immersed in event management, helping my employer become the powerhouse it is today.

When the pandemic hit, events shut down and, like so many others, I started rethinking my career choices. With the encouragement of my husband, Aaron Brecek ’03, and our 7-year-old son, Kameron, I re-enrolled at Eastern to complete my degree. Then, fate intervened: the university was looking for a new alumni relations director. I applied, got the job and here I am today, a proud recent alumna heading up an association of thousands of equally prideful EWU graduates. 

So, why this career? Easy. I wanted to give back to the place that gave so much to me. At Eastern, I met my husband, made best friends and was inspired to find my passion for connecting with people. The love I have for EWU is unmatched, and becoming the voice for Eag Nation is everything I could have ever wanted. 

I look forward to hearing from you. You’ll see me at just about every university event, and you’ll definitely hear me at football games. Come say hello to a fellow Eagle, and let’s talk about your own Eastern story. Go Eags!