By Chloe Riley
With the goal of increasing student engagement now to build on future alumni relations, the Ole Miss Alumni Association created the new position of student engagement coordinator.
“I think we need to be doing more engagement with our current students here from the time they’re freshmen to when they graduate, so that way they understand what the alumni association is all about and the importance of being part of this group,” said Alumni Association Executive Director Kirk Purdom (BA 93). “I would like to see us more involved with the student organizations around campus for us to get more students in our office, and for them to be involved in some of the programming and things that we do.”
Filling the position in September, Sunny Eicholtz (BFCS 09, MA 11) said her goals are to increase student awareness about the Alumni Association, let students know there is a student membership available through the Future Alumni Network and encourage them to be active in the Alumni Association while they’re undergraduates in hopes of continuing that involvement after graduation.
“I think the thing we found most over the years is that many students don’t even know where the Alumni Association building is, what we do and what we have available for them when they graduate,” Eicholtz said.
Sheila Dossett (BAEd 75), Alumni Association senior associate director, said the need for the position has steadily grown over the past few years.
“We had already been doing more student engagement work out of this office, and it had gotten to be that we couldn’t handle it – we didn’t have enough staff,” Dossett said. “It became clear that we needed a dedicated person to manage that.”
Logan Christian, vice president of external affairs for the Student Alumni Council (SAC), also recognized the importance for student engagement with the Association. He helped plan the Alumni Association’s Bridging the Gap event this year, which connected students with alumni in an open forum setting. The event allowed alumni to give advice and for students to ask them questions about their professional experiences.
“Networking is huge, especially in today’s society,” Christian said. “It’s good to have a good resume and everything, but in my opinion it’s about who you know. It’s hard to get in the door these days, but being able to meet alumni and make connections, you never know how it can help you in life.”
One of the first events Eicholtz worked on in October in conjunction with the SAC was Class Cab, where Alumni Association staff gave students rides on golf carts from the Alumni Center to their classes while various “campus celebrities” asked Ole Miss trivia questions. The more questions the students answered correctly, the more merchandise they won.
More Class Cab days are planned for the future along with other events to get students involved with the Alumni Association. With the goal of reaching #alumni30k by July 2017, the Association is encouraging students to join and enjoy special benefits just for student members while building their professional network. For more information on the Future Alumni Network and student membership, visit olemissalumni.com/students.
JOIN the Future Alumni Network Today!