Robin Hathaway: Rock Singer Turned Public Speaker

Robin Hathaway Class of 2014

Robin Hathaway Class of 2014


Robin Hathaway ’14 has owned her own business, partnered with her father in business, even achieved her childhood dream of becoming a professional singer. Yet even with all of these accomplishments she wasn’t happy, she said.

“When you know there is something else you need to be doing and that you are not reaching your full potential, nothing makes you happy,” she said.

But as fate would have it, a friendship she formed through her singing career would become the finger pointing her toward fulfillment.

At age 28, Hathaway was reading the Providence Phoenix, scanning the music want ads, and decided to answer an ad for a singer. She auditioned and landed a job with The Rockin’ Soul Horns based in Providence. She also met her husband, a guitar player, in the band. They performed at political events, weddings and events for the governor and mayor. But after five years in the music business, Hathaway was still not happy.

“I always had this regret in the back of my mind that I had never gone to college,” she said.

Inspired by a fellow musician in his late 50s who was earning a music education degree at RIC, Hathaway decided to enroll at age 34. “I thought, ‘If he can do it, I can do it. I’m not too old,’” she said.

Nonetheless, being enrolled full time meant Hathaway was unable to work. “My husband was not very happy,” she said. “Being in school put stress on our marriage. We had a very tough time financially. But he was also my greatest support.”

Hathaway decided on a music education degree, like her colleague, so that she could become a choral conductor. But by the end of her freshman year, she discovered that neither music theory nor the job prospects for a choral conductor excited her.

She sought out career counseling with Director of Career Development Linda Kent-Davis who she described as “one of her campus heroes.” After taking the Myers-Briggs assessment, Hathaway changed her major to communication.

“Being in business and working with people, particularly in sales, is my forté,” she said. But what she needed for fulfillment at this stage in her life was to help people sell themselves. “I want to help empower people and their business,” she said. Hathaway decided on a career in motivational speaking and business coaching for people in sales and high-stress positions.

“I researched the profession through the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the reality of finding a paid position. When I realized that this is something I could conceivably do and make a good living at, I began to eat, sleep and breathe the profession.”

Hathaway also founded and became president of the RIC Public Speakers Club. She was made a member of Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Association’s honor society. And she became a member of the National Speakers Association.

As part of an independent study course, she found speaking engagements for herself, presenting a motivational speech at OpenDoors, a Providence-based program that assists former inmates in finding jobs, and at the Center for Women in Enterprise.

“I have a passion for encouraging people to better themselves,” she said. “I want to get them to really think about the power they have within themselves to make the changes they need in their lives. That excites me more than you know.”

Her greatest achievements, other than walking across the stage to receive her degree, she said, are the achievements she made within herself. Hathaway is the first in her family to graduate college and she has graduated with one of the highest distinctions – magna cum laude.

She said her singing career is slowly being fazed. She said college liberated her from the feeling of insecurity she once had as a singer. “Most singers I know have some level of insecurity. When we get compliments and recognition, it does make us feel better about ourselves, but then we come to need that. I’ve discovered that I don’t need it anymore. I don't need validation from others. Rhode Island College had a lot to do with that,” she said.

At age 37, Hathaway said she is finally happy with herself. “Today I’m a college graduate and happy to be my own best friend.”

Hathaway was recently accepted into the MBA program at Bryant University.

Hathaway’s cap reads: 37-year-old Rock Star. Thanks, RIC!