Becoming an alumni

Jennie Kushner

Students scheduled to graduate in May have the opportunity to join the regionalized social and career networking organization, the National Alumni Association.

The National Alumni Association is self-governed and non-profit. The mission of the association is to connect alumni nationwide and continue communication from campus to graduates, said David Wilson, director of alumni funds.

Currently the association has 30,000 active members. There are more than 100 chapters nationwide, Wilson said.

“The ultimate goal of the Association is to support the University and support the alumni,” said Christian Park, program assistant. “Sometimes it’s hard when an alumni is out-of-state to keep communication, we are here to build that bridge and connect the two.”

For $20 annually, or $1.67 monthly, recent graduates can join the Alabama Alumni Association, Wilson explained. He said the first official record of the association dates back to 1849.

Through its scholarship program, the Association recognizes entering freshmen, transfer students and full-time undergraduate students, Wilson said. He said more than half of the money donated to the association goes to scholarships.

For fiscal year 2008-2009, the National Alumni Association granted $1,846,621 in scholarships, Wilson said. The budget totaled in $3,244,375.

Wilson said the University begins recruiting students at freshman orientation to join the Alumni Association by first joining Future Alumni for Tradition and Excellence. Wilson said it’s is an easy transition from FATE to the Association.

“FATE is the largest student organization on campus with more than 3,000 members,” Park said. “FATE is a great way to social and career network.”

Once a member of the association, alumni will be invited to their local chapter’s various events, Wilson said.

Wilson said that this week, President Witt will be flying to Charlottesville, North Carolina, to meet with a chapter. In the past, Mal Moore has traveled to meet with chapters.

“It’s a great way for students to stay connected to the University; they will receive communications about happenings on campus, and they can share their information with us,” Wilson said. “It’s a great way to stay informed and it’s an excellent opportunity to social and career network.”

Members will receive an alumni magazine quarterly in which they are invited to keep other alumni updated with personal happenings.

“We ask members to write back to us about updates with them,” Wilson said. “If they have a baby, get married, job promotions—we want to know about it.”

Wilson said many chapters have viewing parties for sporting events, and a lot of chapters will rent out local venues to host events.

“A lot of chapters will have tents on the quad on game day, and for the Homecoming game, the Alumni Association has a tailgate,” Park said.

Park said she expects around 600 graduates from the May 2010 class to join the association, although registration has yet to begin.

Caroline Avent, a senior majoring in advertising said she is excited to stay connected with the University through the association.

“I think it will be a great way to network, and it’s always good to keep in contact with your classmates,” Avent said. “I’m proud to be a graduate of this University, and I will be proud to contribute back to the University who gave me a great education.”

While Avent looks at the association as a positive, some students say post-graduation isn’t an appropriate time to ask new alumni for contributions.

“I think it’s a great organization that I will later join,” said Emma Hutchinson, a senior majoring in health care management. “Directly after graduation, it’s not feasible to join due to the monetary requirements.”

Senior Bo Cartwright, a business administration major, said students will be focused on paying other bills before joining the association.

“Right now I am focused on getting a good paying job so that later in life I can contribute to the University,” he said. “Right now most students are more focused on paying off their student loans than paying more money to the University.”

To join the Alabama Alumni Association, e-mail Christian Park at park033@alumni.ua.edu, or visit alumni.ua.edu