Alumni-Run Program Provides Valuable Skills
By Julia Gavin
Students have a perspective on their university few can claim. By connecting with alumni, prospective students and others, the University's new student alumni ambassadors share their insights and help others feel as at home on campus as they do. The students also gain valuable skills and networking opportunities as they help with events and programs run by the Alumni Relations and University Advancement offices.
"Our alumni and friends are always excited to talk with students about their experience, and we have been fortunate enough to have some of our best and brightest join the program," says Heather Makrez, director of alumni relations. "This is a great opportunity for our students to network with alumni and will serve as a cornerstone for our major University outreach efforts."
After interviews and training over the summer, new ambassadors were put to the test by helping with several large events, including the grand opening of the Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center and Fall Festival, both of which attracted hundreds of alumni and community members to campus. The 30 students greeted and directed visitors, updated alumni on campus changes and learned more about their University.
"Fall Festival was a wonderful experience. I love the fact that UMass Lowell has an event that allows families of the Lowell community and families of students to visit and learn about the different student organizations on campus," says Walter Bridglal, a criminal justice major. "Equally important, Fall Festival gives students the opportunity to connect with the Lowell community."
Kevin Doherty, a psychology major, says the program is giving him direct contact with alumni he wouldn't have otherwise and has been an "amazing experience so far."
"Connecting with alumni has given me the opportunity to not only meet some very interesting people, but to be active in my own networking process," Doherty says. The program has helped him get out of his comfort zone in order to make connections. "There's a lot to learn from these alumni: they were once in the same shoes I am and they were able to find success."
Bridglal's experiences with alumni during the events have not only provided connections, but also a stronger understanding of the University's history and progress in recent years.
"I got a bigger picture of the evolution of the University. I had the opportunity to meet several alumni who spoke vividly about their experiences before the University joined the University of Massachusetts system," Bridglal says. "This opportunity has enabled me to network and build relationships with alumni who have and will continue to contribute to my success."