Your Voice Counts: A Perspective from an Alum

Kenneth Holley '02 at Brick City Homecoming 2013

The following article was written by RIT alumnus by Kenneth Holley ’02 and originally posted on LinkedIn. The opinions contained belong to Kenneth Holley and have not been altered in any way that would change his intended message.

As a high school student, can you recall all the preparation it took for you to go to college? Do you remember saying, “I can't wait until I graduate from high school and go to college?”

Now what happened after your first day on campus changed your life forever, yes? You could have done so many things differently but in the midst of all the fun, your goal was ultimately to get out. The thought of being like a leprechaun seeking to find your pot of gold was your focus. In four years, you went from “I can't wait to get into college” to “I can't wait to get out of college.” This mindset focused on the “I” with little regard for the fact that you are called to bring others with you.

Many of us went on to graduate from college and built super tight networks of fellow alumni and never looked back. I would say, encourage your super tight network to take some time to give back to your alma mater in some capacity both great and small. I have done exactly that—hosting alumni events, building relationships for my alma mater Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to have access to over 40,000 New York City students, and recruited other alumni to support Applicant Interviews and Accepted High School and Transfer Student Receptions. I also recruited an RIT student from NYC to attend a Summer Send-Off event to support incoming NYC tristate area students who were committed to attending RIT. In addition, I have made financial contributions to university fundraising campaigns

What am I most concerned about is our future students and our future alumni. They are looking for us to connect with, to learn from. What are we doing to let them know we exist? These students are our legacy—think about how much more prepared they would be with some encouraging words from alumni, the people that came before them. As I reflect back on my years before and during college, what would be different if I was able to connect with some of the alumni who came before me? I've decided to be that voice that I feel was missing before I entered my first year of college. In my original college essay 20 years ago I stated, “I would give back to the university that would help me.”

Over the last three years, I have been a part of Rochester Institute of Technology Accepted Student Reception at the New York Marriott Marquis. I've had the privilege of being a part of an Alumni Panel addressing over 900 attendees consisting of accepted students and their support networks. During the Accepted Student Reception, there were panel discussions with college students and alumni. The purpose of the receptions was to congratulate accepted students, connect with students who may or may not have had opportunity to visit the campus, share more information about the university, answer questions and expose prospects to various student and alumni experiences. There are many ways to help prospective students, current students and alumni.

Do you know what makes your alma mater so great? It's you and your legacy.

Here are five ways you can help empower future and current alumni at your college or university:

  • Join or create a local alumni chapter in your city or region.
  • Attend university and/or alumni chapter events on and off campus.
  • Host your university at a local college fair or your former high school.
  • Serve on a committee interviewing applicants in your city or region.
  • Post a co-op or job opportunity with your university's Career Services Office.

Again, what makes your college or university so incredible? It’s you, your degree and your advocacy.

Your voice counts as an alum. Let it be heard.


Matt Garver ’99 (applied arts and sciences), assistant director in the Undergraduate Admissions office and coordinator of alumni admissions volunteers, Rochester Institute of Technology, said Holley is one of 715 alumni who volunteered in admissions last year at college fairs, spring receptions and accepted-students events.