Sarah (Muzzy) Dawkins
Professional Member

Anderson, SC

You’ve probably heard of Princess Leia, Princess Di and even the Princess Bride. But the “Pulp and Paper” princess?

Yes, she does exist. What other title could you give to one who eagerly answers the question, “What is your favorite paper or packaging product” with: I really, really love anything paper!

Sarah (Muzzy) Dawkins is truly the face of P&P’s future. An enthusiastic, dedicated young professional, she graduated from the University of Maine in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. It was there that she first came into contact with TAPPI, and where, one might say, it was love at first sight.

She became highly engaged in the TAPPI/PIMA Student Chapter, as well as serving as the Senior Vice President on the Pulp and Paper (P&P) Foundation’s Executive Board, as a student chapter member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChe), and as the TAPPI/PIMA Student Chapter President for two years. She was recognized for her many efforts in 2010 when she was named PIMA Student of the Year. It was the combination of all these activities that she says led to her choice of a P&P career.

“I attended every TAPPI Student Conference while I was in college,” Sarah said, “and was amazed at how the paper industry seemed like such a close knit family.” Through her attendance at those conferences, at Papercon and as a volunteer at various other industry-related activities, Sarah developed a network of fellow students, professional mentors and contacts. It was a foundation she says which helped her not only grow individually, but still helps her today as she continues to establish a successful career. “I earned my nickname because it seemed like I was involved in everything paper,” she relays with a laugh.

But involvement during your college years is no laughing matter, Sarah notes. It’s the ideal way to test the waters of an industry you may spend the next 30 to 40 years in. Beyond the networking, her student membership also provided access to extensive resources, including TAPPI’s eLibrary with more than 20,000 documents. It also helped build her personal brand by allowing her to develop key relationships that opened doors to job opportunities that might otherwise not have been available. Currently a member of the Chemical Process Design Group at O’Neal, Inc. in South Carolina, she began her career directly upon graduation as part of the Accelerated Sales Engineer Program at Nalco.

While Sarah sees many challenges ahead for the industry, she also sees great potential, particularly for those willing to enter it. “When I was in school, the opportunities in the field seemed limitless,” she said. “Now, they are so diverse they really can shape a uniquely challenging and rewarding future. I definitely have not been disappointed.”

And isn’t that the crowning glory for any industry’s future?

Q. Why did you decide to join TAPPI?
A. My involvement with the Student Chapter of TAPPI/PIMA at the University of Maine highly influenced my decision to stay a member after graduation and entering the industry. I attended every Student Summit Conference while I was in college (4 years) and also was able to attend Papercon my junior year. I was amazed at how the paper industry seemed like such a close knit family, and through my networking with TAPPI I have made many lasting connections. The last two years I have Chaired sessions at Papercon and have really enjoyed the experience and feel that I have learned a lot. I became the “Pulp and Paper Princess” during my time at the University of Maine. Students and Professors joked about how I was so involved with TAPPI and the University of Maine Pulp and Paper Foundation and it seemed like I was a part of everything paper while in school.

Q. Please describe your involvement with TAPPI over the years.
A. I served as the first Chairperson of TAPPI’s Young Professionals committee. I served two years as Treasurer and two years as President of the University of Maine TAPPI/PIMA Student Chapter. As President, I was involved with the Northeast PIMA/TAPPI local section.

Q. How has TAPPI helped you in your career pursuits?
A. As a junior at the University of Maine, I received the 2010 Student of the Year Award from TAPPI at Papercon. As I approached graduation and started looking for jobs, many people remembered me because of that award. I had also made many important connections at TAPPI events and in volunteering with the organization that helped me move into a job in the industry right after graduation. My involvement also helped me grow more confident and knowledgeable as a person, which continues to help me in my career today.

Q. Tell us about some of your interests outside of TAPPI and your professional life.
A. I really enjoy spending time with my family and friends, and taking vacations and seeking experiences that will be remembered forever. I love being out
Sarah Dawkins Wedding

Q. Can you share a unique or fun fact about yourself?
A. I married my husband Caleb Dawkins earlier this year on January 4. We were married in Charleston, S.C., on the Carolina Girl yacht. I have a nine-year-old step-daughter, Cadance, who I enjoy spending time with (see photo to the right).

Q. TAPPI’s 100-year anniversary is in 2015. Would you provide a few thoughts on what you believe have been the most significant contributions/breakthroughs in areas of our industry? Also, what is your favorite paper or packaging product?
A. I really, really love anything paper!! I think that one of the greatest things about the paper industry is that although it has faced many challenges and difficult times throughout the years, it is still strong and committed to sticking around for the future. The industry has had to be creative and has found many interesting ways to stay in business and continue to be profitable, even in hard times. It has made many great careers for people who have stuck with it, and I am hoping to have the same kind of success in the industry with my career. The opportunities are so diverse and can really shape a uniquely challenging and rewarding future for those willing to enter it. The industry is going to have to continue to innovate and create new products and opportunities to stay competitive and relevant. Young minds and new thinking will be necessary to carry this industry with a great legacy into its next 100 years.

Q. Closing sentiments?
A. I would highly recommend TAPPI membership to anyone in the industry, or who is interested in the industry. TAPPI membership is a powerful tool that when utilized can truly enhance your career and personal life. I have made many friends with TAPPI and consider the paper industry to be like family. I have met people who I see as mentors and can forever learn from their experience and success. TAPPI was such an important part of my college education and continues to highly influence my career. I truly look forward to the great future ahead for the paper industry and am very excited to see it innovate and adapt over the course of my caree