Andrea Lebedinski's official title at Stony Brook University is Coordinator of Annual Giving and Branding. However, the 25-year-old Setauket resident and Stony Brook alum is better known as Wolfie's agent.
For the past four years Lebedinski has been crafting the vision of the Stony Brook mascot and managing his social media presence. She acts as public relations, photographer, and scheduler, and compares branding Wolfie to the way Disney brands Mickey Mouse. Thanks in part to her efforts, this fall Wolfie will appear in commercials for ESPN's College Gameday alongside mascots from big Division I schools.
Lebedinski didn't stop there, though. This Sunday she will be participating in the 2012 Miss Long Island pageant as one of the final 12 contestants, representing the Stony Brook charity Red Watch Band, which she described as "an awareness program for the prevention of toxic drinking."
Patch sat down recently for a chat with Lebedinski at her office.
Patch: What's the most difficult part of being Wolfie's agent?
Andrea Lebedinski: Making sure everything stays organized and staffed. When I first started I had to reach out to local events and fairs and say 'Hey, we'd love to come and bring Wolfie to appear.' Now that he's so popular we're inundated with requests all the time. We can have up to five events in one day. So staffing is the biggest.
Patch: What was your reaction when you found out that Wolfie would be on ESPN Gameday with all the big Division I schools?
AL: I couldn't ask for a better opportunity to publicize. This is what you work for, this is why we go to every parade and try to get him out there as much as possible. Then when things like this come it's only natural to think that 'we've arrived' to some degree.
Patch: What was the response in the office when you told them that you'd be representing Stony Brook at the pageant?
AL: They were excited for me. They joke in a loving way. They kind of expect it of me because I like to be doing things that for me is an opportunity to help get Stony Brook out there and let them know about all the wonderful things we have going on here. They were happy.
Patch: Was there any animosity among the girls hearing that you just heard about it on TV one day and applied, whereas they may have been doing it for years?
AL: No, not at all. When I met the girls at the training session I was pleased to meet such kind girls who were willing to help. It's about encouragement. These girls are all similar in a sense that they're looking for personal or professional growth. Things like this are in support of one another and in encouragement of one another for female empowerment if you will.
Patch: What aspect of the pageant do you think will be the most difficult?
AL: Walking in my shoes. I wear heels everyday, but those heels will be a little bit higher. I'm probably one of the shorter girls so it'll be a little difficult.
Patch: What message do you hope to deliver to the people in terms of the pageant?
AL: That if you put your mind to something that you can accomplish it. I never thought that I'd be in a pageant. For me it's to show that you can have it all, that you can be successful in your career and in your personal life. Life's too short to blend in, you have to stand out. For me the biggest thing is to represent a place that I love, that is Stony Brook. I'm an alum, I'm a staff member, I've lived here all my life. To represent Long Island it would be an honor.