UA Alumni Association looks to attract new graduates

CW+file

CW file

Camille Studebaker

The National Alumni Association, composed of friends and alumni of the University, encourages those graduating to join immediately because the first year of membership is free.

There are over 100 active alumni chapters nationally with more than 34,000 total members. Because membership is not exclusive to alumni, many parents of students join. To join, there’s a join button under the membership tab on the National Alumni Association website.

Keith Miller, former District 12 vice president of the Alumni Association, said its biggest component is scholarship, awarding $4.8 million worth of scholarships this year.

In addition to scholarship, it is involved in student recruitment by giving tours to prospective students, it has a homecoming committee that helps put on many homecoming activities, it gives out student awards recognizing several senior students and alumni and the National Alumni Association president is on stage for graduation and part of the whole graduation process.

Miller said scholarship opportunities are mainly what draws people into joining, especially for parents of prospective students. For parents that have been a member longer than three years prior to their student’s enrollment, the student receives an automatic Alumni Heritage Scholarship of $500. There is also the member-based Alumni Scholar award available to incoming freshmen who scored a minimum of a 25 on the ACT, according to the National Alumni Association website. That award is $1,000 a year for four years.

Miller said there are very few universities that have as strong of an Alumni Association as the University of Alabama.

“We have 533 endowments, which means there’s 533 scholarships that are fully funded,” he said. “We have a corpus of $43 million, and there are very few universities that can even begin to touch that.”

The Student Alumni Association, a group on campus with 85 members, works with students and staff at Alumni Hall to put on and host many events campus wide. These events help connect the University’s current students with the National Alumni Association. Through this connection, the National Alumni Association can see who their work is benefiting, said Alexa Ruttenberg, a junior majoring in psychology and president of the Student Alumni Association.

In addition to hosting events such as the Golden ‘50s Dinner and Alumni Weekend, the Student Alumni Association participates in community affairs such as supply drives for DCH, cleaning up the RiverWalk and fundraising. It also interacts with prospective students and makes their visit to campus more personal.

The National Alumni Association pairs with University Programs to host a Senior Week for graduating seniors in the spring, and the Student Alumni Association provides any help needed throughout the week and promotes the National Alumni Association to graduates. Additionally, the National Alumni Association puts together a Young Grad trip for any graduates of the University, Ruttenberg said.

“The Student Alumni Association is important to all students on campus because it provides networking opportunities for students to get to know their alumni,” she said. “These connections can instill priceless bonds that will help any graduate find their way throughout the ‘real world.’ ”