[media-credit name="Tiara Winata" align="aligncenter" width="741"][/media-credit]On Thursday, Sept. 6, whether at one of their five booths spread throughout campus during the day or at the members-only free dinner at Peter’s Parking deck before T-Night, Student Alumni Association (SAA) representatives had spread out like a colony of proverbial Yellow Jackets across campus.
SAA staffers were keen to highlight the purpose behind the kick-off: to bring students into the SAA community and allow them to grow through opportunities for interaction with alumni and each other.
Martin Halicek, a third-year PHYS major who was helping staff the Tradition Keepers booth on Thursday, stressed that SAA provides a variety of programs to facilitate alumni-student connections.
“I that that’s really important for the alumni of this university: they like to give back,” Halicek said. “It helps the alumni get involved as well [as] feel like a part of the community.”
Halicek noted that the programs not only benefit students, but also the alumni who choose to participate in them.
Mentor Jackets, SAA’s most popular program, pairs an alumni mentor with a student to expedite the sharing of life experiences and professional advice between past and present Tech students.
SAA is distinct from the official Georgia Tech Alumni Association, which every graduate of Tech is automatically a member of. The Alumni Association focuses on connecting GT Alumni with each other, current students and the institution itself, raising funds to aid the Institute and providing career services, but shares at least one thing in common with SAA—a focus on philanthropy.
Steve Chaddick, a Tech graduate who was involved in the founding of the SAA several years ago, explained the foundational importance of philanthropy to the mission of both organizations.
“We also want to make sure that students, while they’re still here, understand the value of philanthropy at Georgia Tech,” Chaddick said. “A lot of kids, and their parents, frankly, think that, ‘gee, I payed my tuition and it’s a state school, so all the costs are covered.’”
Chaddick went on to mention that the state covers approximately 17 percent of Tech’s budget, allowing for the of some of the biggest construction projects of Tech, including the CULC, McCamish Pavilion and the Scheller College of Business.
“Alumni provide 60 percent of the philanthropic dollars that come into this place, and without it, this place would not be what it is today,” Chaddick said.