Kate Allison ’12 connects current Lawrentians with former students, creating opportunities for individuals and for the school at large. Having served as an RLA during her years as a student and transitioned into the role of Residence Hall Director for three years following graduation, Allison has made a professional place for herself at Lawrence once more as Assistant Director of Alumni and Constituency Engagement upon her completion of graduate school at University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse in 2017.
Some of Allison’s main work is with Lawrence’s seven regional alumni clubs as well as reunion events on campus and the facilitation of the Student Ambassador Program (SAP). During the fifth, 15th and 20th class reunions, Allison served as the staff liaison for the events. Involvement in the regional alumni clubs revolves around creating activities and fostering interest and engagement in alumni in regions throughout the U.S. to keep them connected to Lawrence.
While there are clubs in Washington D.C., New York City, Chicago, the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, Madison and here in the Fox Valley, Allison noted that her office hopes to expand both nationwide and internationally so as to continue making these close connections.
Each alumni club has a chair and committee which meets on a monthly or bimonthly basis in order to put together various social events to help with networking and bringing alumni in the areas together. And with the fifth annual Lawrence Giving Day occurring this week, these connections are even more important.
Allison explained that alumni who are connected with their regional clubs are reached through email lists and Facebook groups with promotions for Giving Day. “Giving Day has always been fairly big on the social media side… you can follow things on the Lawrence website and there’s the livestream show on all that happens,” said Allison. Along with the alumni clubs, Allison works with current students here at Lawrence to promote better understanding and connection with alumni resources. Specifically,
Allison works with the Student Ambassador Program, which will be putting on the Price is Right programming for Giving Day. Allison explained how the Student Ambassador Program is beneficial for current students beyond contributing to the yearly fundraiser as well. “SAP [has] just been rebuilding themselves since I got here, they’ve been growing membership and trying some new events in different ways and I feel like that’s a great way for students to start learning a little bit more and figuring out not only having a connection with alumni, but kind of what alumni development does and the importance of that.”
Allison reflected that though it has not been so long since she herself graduated from Lawrence, there’s been lots of positive change along with a steady trend of student involvement.
“I would say I feel like there’s some core values that always stay the same. I feel like students are always excited, students are always asking a lot of questions, students are always very interested and wanting to have their hands on a lot of different things and wanting to have a lot of different experiences. I feel like that’s stayed the same, I think just the way that the different kinds of resources that are on campus and the way they’re promoted has been changing for the better. I feel like things have become more and more accessible than they were when I was a student and I feel very lucky to have been able to see it all first-hand.”
Allison is excited to have students reach out to the Alumni and Constituency office for any kind of support they might need in forming connections with graduated students. “Something that I brought up in our office and that we’re working towards is just making sure that students are aware that we’re here and that we’re a resource…we do have different ways for students to connect to alumni through us, but we can also happily connect students to other offices. We work closely with career services and admissions and other offices that do alumni work and so if someone says, ‘I want to connect with an alum and I have no idea where to start,’ they can always come to us and we can either help right here or we can point students in the right direction, so just knowing that we can be the start of a connection for them.”
Allison also mentioned a developing opportunity for students to connect online with alumni. Later this year, students may have access to an online information base called AlumniQ which will allow alumni and students alike to connect by using highly specific search criteria. Allison encourages students to seek out alumni and said, “I feel like sometimes there’s this kind of misconception that alumni are scary, that its intimidating to reach out, but honestly most alumni that I’ve met, they’re looking for that connection. They’d love to connect with students, they’d love to help students in that process.”