What is an alumnus?

Oxford defines the word “alumnus” as “a graduate or former student of a particular school, college, or university.” Technically speaking, that’s every single person graduating this semester. While many students are looking forward to packing up, leaving town, and living their lives, the Alumni Center at UAA gives students incentive to come back and help the university, or to get help from other alumni.

While the Alumni Association spearheads events like the annual Green and Gold Gala and the 9 in the Spine mini golf event, it’s not just events that former students and graduates can lend a hand with. Alumni at UAA are instrumental in helping other alumni or students succeed in education.

That kind of help isn’t limited to Alaska, either. UAA’s Alumni Association has charters across the nation, so that students who choose to look for work abroad will still have that support.

“Alumni in Seattle have the opportunity to call other alumni,” Rachel Morse, the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations at UAA said. “Same for Houston, same for Washington. Those are big areas, and when you leave with your degree, you’re taking big bold steps and you have to have a community that exists to support you.”

That kind of support is found in Alaska, too. While UAA, UAF, and UAS each have their own Alumni Centers, they collaborate with each other to bring experienced alumni together. Alumni can also help students who are still attending UAA.

“It’s the students that value that as well,” Jennifer Wisel, the Alumni Relations Specialist at UAA said. “when the alumni come back and show that they’re still playing a part and loving to give back to the students.”

Alumni can assist other students in a number of ways. For one, their accomplishments are always shown and published by the Alumni Association. They can return to help mentor and teach other students from their old department. It’s not just limited to education, either; they can also help out with clubs and organizations around campus, and they’re also encouraged to come and support UAA at events like sports or galas.

The end of the semester is a stressful time for students and new graduates alike, but Morse recommends that students come back and join the alumni community.

“Students often feel like they’re ready to be done with UAA when they graduate,” said Morse. “They’re done with finals, they’re done with taking classes, it’s often been a very challenging commitment that they have given to work and go to class and deal with all that kind of stuff that students do. But if I could tell students anything, it would be that there is a tremendous value and opportunity that awaits them as alumni. Being an alum is the opportunity to give all of that back. All of that hard work that you put in as a student comes back in the form of a community that’s there to support you and connect you to jobs.”

Even after a student graduates, they still have a lot of resources from UAA at their disposal. While that student can choose to ignore those resources, it may be prudent for them to dip into them when they need it. Those resources will be there for as long as they need them.

Written by George Hyde

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