Rebekah Patent is a San Francisco native who came to Las Vegas by way of Texas. The University of Houston alumna is an avid sports fan who likes to fish, hike, and spend time with her large family. On the flip side, she’s a self-proclaimed bookworm who loves nothing more than to carve out a few hours to dive into a new paperback.
It is this tale of two Rebekahs that has brought her success at UNLV in the Division of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement, where she is the director of sponsorships. With her quiet, thoughtful side, she studies and listens to potential donors and sponsors to figure out their interests. And with her enthusiastic, outgoing side, she can create excitement and awareness about UNLV partnerships.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a dolphin trainer, but math and science weren’t my strong suits. It took some time, but I eventually realized that I have unique strengths for getting to know people and finding out what is meaningful to them. In addition, I have always been a storyteller, and getting to know people better allows me to tell their stories. When I was younger, I would write stories. My parents were very supportive and would invite friends and family over so I could read my stories out loud to them. Being a storyteller has come in handy throughout my career, especially at UNLV. As a fundraiser, I want to ensure our donors feel connected with UNLV. By understanding their values and interests, I can educate them about opportunities and help them become involved in areas across campus that resonate with them.
What did you do before landing at UNLV?
Before coming to UNLV three years ago, I worked as the Community Relations Manager for a Texas-based jewelry company, where I would create giveback opportunities for philanthropic organizations in the Las Vegas area. I never saw the company’s impact on these organizations, so I was thrilled to hear about an opening on the Annual Giving team here at UNLV. Now I am lucky enough to see the impact of our donors’ dollars in real-time.
What is the biggest misconception about your field?
Fundraising isn’t about used car sales approaches; it’s about creating relationships with the people and companies who want to help UNLV further its mission and help its students. I enjoy getting to know someone well enough to help them find opportunities that are a good match. Each partnership is unique; it’s not one size fits all.
What surprises you about working at a university?
Even though it is a large university, we are a small, close-knit community.
What’s the biggest misconception you encounter about UNLV?
People know about our student diversity, but I don’t think they know about all of the fascinating things on our campus, including the amount of world-class research our students are doing. Every week I learn something new and unique about UNLV. For example, I am blown away by the students participating in the President’s Innovation Challenge each year. They come up with the most creative ideas that could help the economy in Southern Nevada. This year’s winning team developed stackable, indoor microgreen grow boxes that use very little water. This idea is perfect for our local community faced with high rates of malnutrition-related diseases and limited water availability. Stories like this make it easy for me to convey my enthusiasm for UNLV to prospective donors because my passion for UNLV is real. I am constantly in awe of our students and love to share their stories.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Reading. I will read anything. I think it’s the perfect mental escape, and I love getting wrapped up in a good book that I can’t put down. I recently finished "The Book of Lost Names," set in WW2 France. I've been gravitating a lot to books set in the same era recently, and it's really interesting to learn about what was going on in Europe during that time. I have always been a bookworm; I used to skip recess and read in the library in elementary school. In fact, I’ve filled up so many shelves with books I’ve read that my family insisted I switch to an e-reader – it was that bad.
Describe your perfect weekend.
I love spending time at the beach with a stack of books. I grew up near the ocean, and I feel comforted when I smell the salt in the breeze and can put my toes in the sand.