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There are so many different ways to get involved on campus and not only in the ways of the many clubs. I had the unique opportunity a year ago to apply to be a part of the Alumni Association Board of Directors (AABOD). I wasn't sure exactly what it was, but I figured I could go for it anyways.
Basically AABOD works with the Board of Trustees in part and works with all of the alumni chapters all over the country to plan events and bring the RIT community both current and past together as one. My role as a student member of AABOD is basically to bring a student's perspective to the table and try to increase relations between students and alumni on the student side of things.
The board meets three times a year, Brick City Homecoming, offsite in the winter, and again during Imagine RIT. The meeting usually consists of a full day business meeting and a couple days of networking and "getting to know each other" events. This past weekend was my second meeting as a member and the meeting took place in New York City at the Associated Press. I felt like a veteran this time after being so overwhelmed at my first meeting at Brick City Homecoming.
Aside from a hockey viewing party with the New York City RIT Alumni Chapter, an event with CIAS Alumni and an RIT in the news event hosted by Arthur Gosnell, I was inspired and learned an incredible amount at the business meeting.
I come from a high school in Colorado that has one of the most active alumni network in the country, so walking around school and seeing old alumni was nothing uncommon for me. We all agreed at the meeting that this was an area that RIT can improve upon. Yes, it is important to donate and give back to your alma mater, but sometimes the best way to do that is not always monetarily.
Myself along with 5 other students on the board have taken it upon ourselves to try to start a committee to handle events that involve RIT alumni. Although most students are unaware, they are allowed to attend RIT alumni chapter events. As a committee, we want to try to encourage current students to attend alumni events to try to connect with former students. In addition, we would like to begin holding speaker series or possibly networking luncheons for the mutual benefit of the students and alumni. Professional relationships are extremely important in the working world and I think that it is an area that many RIT students can learn about through the connection with alumni.
Yes, we graduate RIT with work experience and a Grade "A" education, but just because you graduate doesn't mean that you are done. As a female engineer I love hearing back from other female alumni in industry that can give me tips and tell me to hang in there and work hard because it DOES pay off. I would love to be on the giving end of that inspiration some day. Maybe one day when I make millions as the inventor of some impressive biomedical device I can donate enough money for a "Chapman Hall" at RIT, but until then I can donate my time to keeping the spirit of RIT alive and well and opening the connection between alumni and alumni-to-be.