• 1997 graduate Eric Batch speaks to incoming students at the 2014 Matriculation Convocation. (Photo by Carlos Barron)

When President Edward Burger wanted to add an alumni speaker to the 2014 Matriculation Convocation, he knew just the person to invite – 1997 graduate Eric Batch.

“Eric beautifully represents what we are trying to accomplish here at Southwestern,” President Burger said.

Batch currently serves as Vice President of Advocacy for the Western States Affiliate of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. His department is responsible for handling the Association’s advocacy and government relations in 10 western states − Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

Through his job, Batch has helped the Association implement campaigns on issues ranging from anti-smoking initiatives to nutrition and obesity prevention. In the process, he has had the opportunity to meet two presidents and serve on a panel with the U.S. Surgeon General.

Batch credits Eric Selbin, professor of political science, with sparking in him a love of political science, particularly public policy. After graduating from Southwestern, he returned to his hometown of Los Angeles to earn a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Southern California.

“Because of the foundation I had from Southwestern, I was really prepared for graduate school,” Batch said. “Southwestern gave me the confidence to compete with students from the best colleges around the country.”

His first job after he finished graduate school was with Deloitte Consulting, where he helped clients in both the public and private sectors look for ways to operate more efficiently. After four “incredible” years, however, Batch said he didn’t feel the position was enabling him to impact people the way he wanted to. He joined the American Heart Association in 2004, and recently celebrated his 10th anniversary with the organization.

Earlier this year, Batch’s work for the American Heart Association earned him a  Community Service Award from the Orange County Chapter of the 100 Black Men of America.

“I was very humbled to receive this award,” Batch said. “The Orange County chapter of the 100 Black Men is one of the premier chapters in the country. To be recognized by them was very special.”

In addition to his government relations work with the American Heart Association, Batch also teaches a course for graduate students at USC on “Intersectoral Leadership,” which focuses on how the public, private and nonprofit sectors can come together to address problems.

“I try to share real-world examples and equip them with the tools to go out and make a difference in society,” Batch said.

In his talk to students entering Southwestern in Fall 2014, Batch offered nine tips:

  1. Be humble
  2. Don’t take this opportunity for granted
  3. Work hard, but play hard, too
  4. Put down the technology from time to time
  5. Broaden your horizons
  6. Make sure you call your parents
  7. With great power comes great responsibility
  8. Have honest conversations
  9. Remember your campus is bigger than Southwestern

Batch also shared with the group that he had recently read Rick Warren’s book What on Earth am I here for? and, borrowing a line from the book, encouraged the students to “lead lives that are significant.”