By Katie Manko
The Student Alumni Association (SAA) is a selective campus organization that is responsible for acting as a representative of the student body during alumni events both on and off-campus. Members of the group also assist the Alumni Relations Office with planning programs for students to help them with post-college life and to help alumni connect.
“The most important role of the SAA is that it helps to foster connections between the alumni and the current student body. The program helps to inform alumni about events going on campus and allows students to hear about the exciting things alumni are up to,” said Jackie Mandart ‘12, a junior chair of SAA.
While some of the history behind the founding of SAA has been lost over time, the organization was founded in 2003 and the first official student membership was established in 2004.
The current junior chairs, Mandart and Dan Nault, hope to not only expand SAA but to also build the association’s presence in the community to educate people about its role on campus.
“It’s great to connect with alums here and just experience different events…I have walked in the parade with the Garnet Guard, who are alumni that have either celebrated or are celebrating their 50th reunion. I’ve gotten to go to cocktails for the Terrace Council in the Nott with the President, meet with different people and connect with them and experience the different events,” said Senior Chair Clarissa Odence.
The approximately 30 student members of the SAA represent an academically diverse group of students from all four class years. The members, along with Leah Vanderhoof and Ashley Boland, Assistant and Associate Directors of Alumni Relations respectively, meet a few times per month throughout the year and meet more frequently before Homecoming, ReUnion, and Trustee weekends.
During these alumni reunion events, the members of SAA are responsible for a variety of tasks including staffing events, helping out with registration, joining alumni for luncheons and dinners, face-painting, walking in the parade and participating in alumni events both on and off-campus. The majority of the off-campus alumni events take place in New York City, Boston, and Washington D.C. SAA members have the opportunity to network with these alumni and serve as a representative of the current Union student body.
Going forward, one of SAA’s biggest initiatives is to educate the campus community and alumni about the organization by creating a website that is expected to be launched this fall. Nault is heading the creation of the website and is currently working with Information Technology Services and tech-savvy students. Upon its completion, the website will be linked to the current Alumni Relations homepage. Odence also plans to speak with Student Forum President Andrew Churchill ‘11 to send an e-mail to the campus about speakers and events students can attend.
Other plans are to continue advertising and having members be present at different events such as club expo, having a table in Reamer, and co-sponsoring events with Minervas to try and integrate more into campus community. Odence also expressed that she is interested in bringing in alumni speakers to facilitate relationships between alumni and the student body. The organization is also looking to expand its membership and recruitment will be held this coming fall.
“In the future I would like to see it be an org that more students readily kenw about on campus. You say Student Forum and everyone knows who that is. There are different groups that readily come to mind, and I would love to see the Student Alumni Association become one of those groups and to have students understand the importance of what SAA does,” said Odence.