As the new incoming WWU Alumni Association board president, I have a personal mission to help other alumni reconnect to Western. It’s been 20 years since I graduated, and for my first 10 years out of Western, I had no connection to the university—I got my degree and moved on. The university didn’t provide opportunities for me to engage as a new alumnus, and when they did call, they only wanted me to donate. Sound familiar?
In the past 10 years, I’ve moved back to Bellingham, spent time on campus, and reconnected with the faculty, students, and WWU Alumni Board. It’s been amazing to share my industry skills and experience with students and faculty, which, in turn, has allowed me to learn about new research and expand my professional knowledge.
I regret not getting involved sooner. If I had to do it over, I would have stayed more actively involved immediately after I graduated. I can assure you, as someone who was disconnected and came back, that the WWU Alumni board is a passionate group of alumni volunteers who are seeking ways to make your alumni experience awesome. We wish we could wave a magic wand that would get 100 percent of alumni reconnected; but we don’t have one.
One of the tools we do have is Western Engaged, a program that brings a new focus and investment by the university to get alumni more connected through college and departmental alumni events, alumni mentoring programs, Facebook groups, more frequent email updates from the faculty, and yes, even more awesome things like the Double Major: Death Cab for Cutie and ODESZA concert—the largest live event in the history of Bellingham which raised $27,000 for the WWU Alumni Association Scholarship Fund. Yes, more of that.
And while financial support of the university is really important, there are so many additional ways to support Western students as an alum. We need alumni to be our legislative champions in Olympia, advocating for higher education funding. We need more established alumni to employ young alumni and offer internships to students and recent graduates. We need professionals to help faculty stay current with industry trends, and so much more.
I really want to hear from you about what programs or initiatives you believe the WWU Alumni Association should focus on. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what matters most to you.